How to Branch Out and Try New (and Weird) Foods

Do you ever find yourself trapped in the same eating patterns? Do you fix the same breakfast for yourself every day, or eat out at the same two or three restaurants in your area? Or do you order the same lame turkey sandwich no matter where you go out to eat?

It might make you content in the short-term, but over the long-term, this can become stifling. Not only will you be limiting the range of nutrition you take in, you’ll also be preventing yourself from discovering new things and enjoying new experiences.


That said, many people aren’t sure how to branch out, or how to discover and try new foods that push the limits of their interests.

Types of “Weird” Food

If “weird” food sounds unsettling to you, don’t worry. There are many broad categories of food that can challenge your palate and introduce you to new flavors, including:

– Novel candies and packaged foods. First, you might try some of the novel packaged foods you can find on supermarket shelves. For example, you can try candy buttons or other rare and nostalgic confectioneries that remind you of the past. If you head down the right supermarket aisle, you can find similarly strange products in other categories—like frozen dinners or canned foods.

– Exotic ingredients. You can also expand your palate and find new things by seeking out exotic ingredients from other countries and other cultures. You might be able to find some of these in the ethnic aisles of a local grocery store, but you’re better off seeking these out in niche ethnic stores in your area.

– Experimental recipes. Alternatively, you can try new foods by combining familiar ingredients in unfamiliar ways. Even simple, strange recipes may strike your taste buds in unique ways, like the increasingly popular peanut butter and pickle sandwich.

– Fads and temporary runs. Sometimes, major brands like to experiment with different flavors, new recipes, or creative new angles. For example, you might find a potato chip flavored like ketchup or an ice cream that tastes like wasabi.

 

The Benefits of Trying New Food

There are several benefits of branching out to find new food, including:

– Creating a memorable experience. Even if you end up hating the new food you try, you’re still going to remember the taste—and the overall experience of eating it. These novel experiences are good for stimulating the mind, and giving you many good memories to carry indefinitely. This effect is enhanced if you’re eating new types of food while on vacation, or if you’re experimenting with new culinary treats with loved ones.

– Introducing you to new tastes. As a child, your parents probably told you “you don’t know what you like until you try it.” The same is true for you as an adult. Occasionally, when trying weird foods, you’ll discover an exotic taste that you truly love, and you’ll be able to integrate it into your normal rotation. This is especially important to consider because human taste and smell tend to change as we age; over time, we lose taste buds and become less resistant to strong flavors.

– Better understanding new cultures. If you purchase ingredients that come from other areas of the world, or if you try a recipe from another culture, you may have a gateway to better understand that culture—especially if you’re willing to do some extra research. You may learn that there’s a ritual method of preparation for this specific food, or that this food has a special meaning to a certain group of people.

– Challenging your assumptions. You might instantly assume that you wouldn’t like a particular kind of food, like eel or durian fruit, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Trying new foods forces you to challenge your assumptions and better understand your own tastes.

– Opening your mind in other areas. Trying a food you think you’ll hate and ending up liking it is a powerful lesson to learn. Once learned firsthand, it can help you open your mind in other areas of your life. If done consistently, it might permanently change how you see and experience the world; for example, you may be more wiling to try new movies, meet new people, or go new locations that you wouldn’t ordinarily.

 

How to Find New, Weird Foods

If you’re on board with seeing these benefits, the next step is to find new and weird foods. There are several ways you can find these ingredients, recipes, and manufactured products, but these are some of the best:

– Talk to connoisseurs. If you know anybody who considers themselves a connoisseur, or if you see them eating lots of different foods and visiting lots of different places, strike up a conversation with them. Ask them for direction on unusual foods they think everyone should try. It’s an easy way to get recommendations. And you can count on them wanting to share some of their favorite experiences with you.

– Look in the corners of your supermarket. Your supermarket probably carries some products you’ve never even imagined, and you can find them if you know where to look. Avoid the main aisles, and head to unfamiliar territory—and make sure you scrutinize each item of the shelf, both above and below your main line of sight. You’ll probably see things you’ve never noticed before.

– Visit local ethnic shops. One of the best ways to find new and exotic foods from all over the globe is to visit local markets owned and operated by people of different cultures. For example, you might find a Vietnamese shop loaded with ingredients you’d never find in conventional stores in the United States.

 

Once you try a “weird” food that you truly love, you’ll have no trouble motivating yourself to find other interesting foods in the future. Invite your family and friends to join you in this journey, and discover more overlooked gems from cuisines around the world.

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