28 September 2011

try it, you'll like it, it tastes exactly like...

My brother and I have both loathed mushrooms all our lives. It wasn't a childhood picky phase, to this day we genuinely cannot abide them. And I think, on balance, that anaemic fungi which grow in dark musty places are an acceptable thing to dislike. I will never make them a priority for my daughter's palate.

But I clearly remember the day that my Mum first uttered the perennial fib: "just try the mushrooms kids, you'll like them, they taste a lot like potatoes". Even my spongy, unformed brain questioned the logic of serving something-that-tastes-a-lot-like-potatoes on the same plate as actual potatoes. And of course, they tasted nothing like potatoes. They tasted exactly like the rubbery, beige, basement-dwelling rot-eaters that they are.

The line was trotted out to disguise various new or exotic foodstuffs over the years. A most memorable example being a deep-fried alligator dish which was said to "taste just like chicken". I didn't holiday abroad till I was an adult, so where the heck in the British Isles we found ourselves eating something that purported to be alligator is anyone's guess. Ironically, it probably WAS chicken.

So what is the long-term, character-building effect of repeated exposure to "trust-me-you'll-like-it"? I have concluded that it's a lasting skepticism for anything that comes with a forceful recommendation. Tell me "seriously, you'll LOVE IT!" about just about anything and watch my cynical heckles rise while I sneer a little inside.

So when about half a dozen people recommended a novel to me, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, some of them in the most endearing way ("I thought of you as I read this, knowing how much you would enjoy it") I smiled and put it on the mental list of books I did not want to read.

I know, I can hardly believe it either. I am that contrary. And the decision was supported (in my brain) by the fact that I hadn't read the author's previous novel because it had a terrible cover. Yup, I'm also that shallow. But in my defence, sort of, Cloud Atlas really did have a rubbish cover. Now that they're making a film of it in the city where I went to university, I might have to get over myself and read it. But I'll make a brown paper cover first.

When my husband gave me a copy of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet as an anniversary present earlier this year ("from the back-cover blurb it seems exactly the kind of thing you'd like!") I smiled and put it on the actual list of actual books I would actually have to read. Secretly I stubbornly refuse to anticipate enjoying it, but acknowledge that I possibly will. The first fifty pages have been alright. At this stage my pride won't allow me any more enthusiasm than that, I'm not quite ready to be proved wrong yet.

It's Yarn Along day, so as well as books, we're talking knitting. My Stripe Study scarf is coming along well. The colours are a bit wild, but I hope they'll make more sense in the context of a relative opening a gift on a chilly British Christmas morning. About half way in the number of stitches per row has already ballooned to 200+. I think that's set to double. Very long rows aren't really my thing because, with a small child on the loose, I need to be able to stop regularly. So it's slow progress but I'm trying to use it as a lesson in enjoying the process over instant gratification.

Linking in with the lovelies at Yarn Along who will, I'm afraid, have to try and forgive me if I don't comment very often on their creations this week. I'm sorry. My beloved old mac G5 eventually gave out on me last night, after nearly seven years of flawless service. I've just about managed to create this post on a screen so small and infuriating that I'm going to shut it off and go directly to the optician. I hope normal service will resume soon. And I hope I can retrieve the last three months photos in time for the Bumbles & Light Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge for which I had been snapping away like a crazy beast. D'Oh.


  1. The bright colours are great, love the purple

  2. You sound just like me - people tell me I'll love something and I become stubborn and less likely to want to look at it! Also, I totally judge books by their covers, and hate mushrooms ;)

  3. I really enjoyed Cloud Atlas so I'll await your verdict on this one - I guess with that amazing intro, if you end up liking it then it'll be REALLY good! I love that scarf pattern too.

  4. Your knitting is lovely of course! Good luck getting a new computer :)

  5. I love reading your posts! I've not read either of the books you mentioned, looking forward to seeing how you like Thousand Autumns once you're done. Your scarf is stunning!

    Oh, and I totally agree with you on the mushroom front. Disgusting.

  6. Potatoes? Are you serious? Your mom is funny.

  7. What wonderful adjectives for the fungi. I hated practically all vegetables as a child and mushrooms were definitely on the top of the list. However, I like them now and several of my children love them. (usually sauteed in butter and wine with salt & pepper)

    Your knitting is very bright and energetic. I'd like to knit one of the Stripe Study shawls soon.

  8. Hmm - 50 pages is my limit - if I don't care for the characters by then the book gets shut. That said, fiction is not my thing at all. Loving your scarf colours. Hope the pc issues get sorted. x

  9. What a delightful blog, I've just found you and looking forward to reading more. I've even signed up to follow!
    Oh! And I lived in Singapore when I was 5! We came back to the UK on my 6th birthday!

  10. Haha, let's see if you'll be ready to be proved wrong by next week. I'm ready to hear you admit it. :) I haven't read the book, but I like the title. That's how shallow I am. :)

  11. Glad to hear I'm not the only fungus-phobe out there. Phew. And thank you for all the lovely comments one and all - they make me beam!

    Welcome along A Trifle Rushed - do you remember much of Singapore as a little one? I'm wondering how much my daughter might remember one day (we'll be leaving around about her 5th birthday).

    Thanks all for the computer sympathy too. Well, L'il Mac has ordered a Big Mac, and it should be arriving next week. Thank goodness. This crappy old netbook is driving me crazy. I've tried to leave messages on numerous Yarn Along blog posts, but they just disappear repeatedly, and my eyes are so strained. So we'll be eating porridge till Christmas, but at least I'll be able to blog about it on a shiny new toy!


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