I remember my food epiphany. I was ten plus or minus a few years, and the epiphany came in the form of a previously frozen Green Giant button mushroom, cooked in butter in a cast iron pan.
This is the part where I back up to give you, my imaginary reader, some context.
My dad is a major foodie. He was a foodie before the word foodie was coined. I can't think of anything he doesn't like except badly made food. And he enjoys food with such gusto! I remember as a kid it would gross me out to watch him eat because he'd be so into it! Rolling his eyes, groaning and smacking his lips. Later, when I knew how to cook, I would realize how fun it is to cook for him because he enjoys it so much. But as a kid I was horrified by the things that he liked. Blue cheese, dark meat poultry, fish, mushrooms...
My mom, on the other hand, was not a foodie. She wasn't exactly what you'd call a picky eater, but she had (and still has) a huge list of food dislikes. Blue cheese (that's mold in there, you know), dark meat poultry (the white meat is the only good part), fish (all fish. period.), mushrooms (they're grown in shit, you know). Since the five of us kids spent the majority of our time with mom, these hang ups became our truth. Mom was always right.
So there I was, hanging around in the kitchen, while mom frazzled the mushrooms for my dad in that little cast iron skillet. The thing was, they didn't smell disgusting. They smelled delicious! They smelled amazing! Finally, I couldn't take it any more and I asked mom if I could try one. Of course she reiterated how foul they are, how they're grown in shit, yada yada yada. But I kept after her until she relented. I stabbed one of those puppies hot out of the pan with a toothpick (this was before toothpicks were banned from the house... long story) and blew on it until it was cool enough to pop it in my mouth. BAM, that was it! It tasted just like it smelled! Delicious! Amazing! Earthy and salty and buttery and so deeply savory!
In that one bite I learned three startling things:
1) Mushrooms are not disgusting, they're delicious!
2) Mom was wrong
3) Dad was right
Wait a minute... Dad was right? But what about all the other gross things he likes to eat? Could it be that they're delicious, too?
That one bite changed the way I thought about food (and my Dad) forever.