I'm not a picky eater, but I'm not adventurous.
I find something I like to eat and then, being comfortable with it, will avoid straying too far from that if given the choice to try something strange off of a restaurant menu. The running joke in my family is that my most-ordered dish at sit-down restaurants has always been a cheeseburger. I just don't like having to commit to eating something before determining whether I like the taste of it or not. I'd hardly waste my own money experimenting with this, much less the money of whoever's treating me to dinner.
So my experiment at a Spanish(Hispanic? Mexican? I'm not entirely sure what the distinction is, when it comes to food) restaurant recently was somewhat out of the ordinary for me. I went with a friend of mine whose parents were treating us. I was nervous right from the get-go, because Mexican food, to my mind, is associated with "spicy," and I don't like spicy food. Not because of any problem with the taste, but simply because I really can't handle it.
Let me explain. When I first came to college, one of the earliest meals I had in the dining hall included fries. They were served with Old Bay on them. I had never experienced this before. I used to dip my fries in ketchup as a kid, but when I grew older I graduated to only using salt. I'd never even tried Old Bay. I really wanted french fries, though. So I exposed myself to the new sensation, and boy was it spicy! I had to try to scrape some of it off the fries just to be able to handle it, despite having water to wash it down with. Some of you may say, "what? Old Bay isn't spicy." Let that impress upon you just how little I can tolerate seasonings of any sort. If Old Bay is spicy to me, imagine what "salsa caliente" is like. As a general rule, I fear anything Mediterranean, Oriental, Indian, Cajun, or Mexican. If I'm going to eat 'ethnic,' I'll go to an Italian restaurant and order myself a plate of spaghetti. You can't go wrong. :D
The appetizer was served immediately. Chips with guacamole and some sort of salsa. For those who don't know, avocado is the fruit, and guacamole is what you make out of it -- adding some pieces of tomato and maybe citrus etc. Much like salat is the leafy stuff and salad is the mix of veggies you get when you throw it all together (I learned that from the chef when I worked as a dishwasher some years back). I hadn't had avocado in a long time, but I figured I'd try it. It's a strange sensation if you're not used to it -- very creamy, whereas I'm used to vegetables being watery or crunchy -- but it was very good. Apparently the guacamole is the pride of the establishment we visited.
Next up, we ordered the meals and I couldn't figure out what anything was by looking at the names. Pictures would have been VERY helpful! I ended up deciding on a Chimichanga (always thought that was "chimmy-chonga"), based on the description of the ingredients and the urging of my friend's brother. As it turns out, a chimichanga isn't all to different from a burrito. It's thinner, and just has meat inside (in this case, beef), but then the bread is fried, and it's served together with rice, refried beans (something else I'd never had--baked beans all the way, baby!--and it resembled baby food; the texture was the weird part, but the taste was familiar), and more guacamole to boot!
As it turned out, everything I had was delicious and now I know a "safe bet" to order if I ever find myself at a similar restaurant in the future. If you haven't tried Chimichangas, I recommend them to you heartily. Expand your palate! I did. And I'm glad for it.
PS (technically speaking, I think the style of food is "Tex-Mex." I probably would in fact fry my tongue if I tried authentic Mexican food)
~ Rak Chazak