A few weeks ago, I was at the grocery store just minding my own business and then I spotted it. Long, skinny, with a ton of feathery leaves. Celery. I had to think quickly. How could I navigate around it or maneuver away from it before my husband spotted it. You see, I have this thing about celery. It is possibly the only one food on the planet that I absolutely cannot stand. With due apologies to all celery lovers out there, forgive me this one. But I cannot lie.
It started about 18 years or so ago when I first came to the US. I had never eaten celery before although I vaguely recall hearing about it but I had never seen it or tasted it. I was in college and a fellow student invited a group of us for dinner. A t dinner, I was introduced to this slim, green, fairly innocent looking vegetable.
My friend was chopping ingredients for a salad she was making. I stood there watching and smelling. Something smelled very strange. After a while I couldn’t stand it anymore. “What is that smell?” I asked her. “What smell?” “That strange odor,” I said looking around and then determined it was coming from the ingredient she was chopping. “What is that?” I asked pointing to the long, slender, green stem. My friend looked at me very strangely, “Em… celery….” Well, I informed her, I had never seen or tasted it. She managed a smile but her eyes betrayed her. I must have seemed like the biggest dolt in the world. Her eyes said: who hasn’t tasted celery? But gracious as she was, she offered me a piece and told me how much she loved it. “It has like no calories, it is so good for your system and it goes with anything. I add it to this chicken salad, to sandwiches, and of course, you can add cream cheese to it and eat it.” Sounded good to me and so I bit into it.
Have you ever seen those cartoons where a character takes a bite of something so gross that his whole body turns green and he bloats up and is about ready to explode? Well, I looked and felt pretty close to that image. The strange unfamiliar taste did not please my taste buds. I have tasted things before that I have not enjoyed but this was something else. The smell and the taste combination were so unpleasant that I could not imagine anyone would like it. It defied logic. But I was in the minority. All the folks around the table popped a piece in their mouths too and talked about what a nice taste it was. Once man’s food…
I can’t tell you why I react so strongly to celery. But I do. I have researched it and some researchers say that there is a particular component in celery that smells really bad to some people. I have no way to verify that.
I have to admit that even more annoying than celery are the people who try to keep convincing me to try it again and again. "You don't know what you are missing," they will say and try to feed it to me in any format they think i will like - soups, salads, in drinks. My dear friends, no offense, but please don't. I just don't like it. I eat everything else on the planet so what if I don't like celery?
These days, there is no escaping the smell. My husband loves to eat it lathered with peanut butter. My kids don’t seem to mind it so clearly the hatred, thankfully, wasn’t passed down. I wrap it in saran wrap and then put it in a bag way at the back of the fridge and yet, I can smell it. It is there, taunting me, asking me, why? Why don’t you love me?
So as my family betrays me, I look to the Internet for camaraderie. And yes, there is a I HATE CELERY group on Facebook.
Perhaps it is time for me to join.
Is there a food you hate? Tell me about it here. Leave a comment, share a rant. One lucky winner will get a signed copy of my book MODERN SPICE. And guess what? It doesn't have a single recipe that uses celery! The giveaway ends on Friday, July 9th at 3:00 pm and winners will be announced here. Please do participate!