I don't understand why I have such trepidation when it comes to trying new food. Four score and seven years ago, when I didn't have teeth and soiled myself on a regular basis, all food was new, and I had to eat it whether I liked it or not. As an adult, I went from eating the imitation crab stuffed California roll at Byerlys to thinly sliced kampachi lightly dipped in ponzu sauce at Origami (heaven on a plate, kids). If I don't try, I'll never know if I'm about to eat my new favorite food, just like my mom used to say. Of course, Mom also let me eat a lot of paint chips as a kid, so what did she know?
Anyhow, this is why I love going out to eat with my sister-in-law Cara. We have an annual tradition where Noah and I go out to dinner with her and my brother in lieu of buying each other Christmas gifts. Back in the day, we'd go to a steakhouse, stuff ourselves with an insane amount of beef, and do a little barhopping downtown. Then we'd go to the hotel bar for last call, which was supposed to be 2 but is now apparently 1, and dare question the bartender who responded with a jovial "Sorry, last call is at 1. Sucks to be you!" After that we'd bring a few more drinks up to the room and not leave a tip on our $100 bill because, WOW, that guy was an asshat! Well, I guess that last part only happened once, and that is why we no longer drink or sleep at the Hilton on Marquette.
Now that we're older and have more refined palates (read: food snobs), we've upped the ante with where we go out. And so here's the great thing (one of many) (taste in men is questionable though) (please don't hit me Nick) about Cara. She'll bust into any restaurant with her No Fear t-shirt on (metaphorically) and order anything, and somehow convince you that whatever delicacy she has her eye on is going to be the most magnificent consumable ever to pass your lips. Case in point, our dinner at Butcher and the Boar last year. I'm perusing the menu all, "Oooh, fried green tomatoes! Like the movie!" Meanwhile, she's drooling over the sweetbreads terrine. I know you're thinking Barf City - as was I - but it was actually really tasty! My only regret is that we didn't order another plate of that instead of the pig's foot. If anyone out there is wondering what that was like, make summer sausage with no flavor and throw in some sawdust for good measure. It'll taste pretty much the same.
But we tried it, and took pictures to prove it, and the remainder of the meal was delicious and filling. Like, I'd give my right arm for a link of their pork and cheddar sausage right now, and I'm still digesting lunch! It makes me think of a quote from How I Met Your Mother (no, seriously): "Experience your food!" Think about it. I'm not suggesting you go to fancy restaurants and do their biggest tasting menus, but it's good to go outside one's comfort zone once in a while. We're going to Meritage (St. Paul, now open on Saturdays!) in April, and if I accidentally order brains, I'll try not to pull a Donna Martin and spit them out on my plate.