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Friend only eats chicken - help with education

I've got a friend who is seriously limited in what he'll eat. He is interested in expanding his horizons, so DH and I are throwing a dinner to help. We're planning to do 8-10 small plates.

I questioned him extensively and discovered the following. He currently eats chicken (primarily), burgers, steaks. Doesn't eat vegetables really - even mashed potatoes. Fries are good. He does like garlic, parmesan, bacon, Mexican flavors and strangely (to me), red curry. No pork other than the bacon or hot dogs or any seafood. To his everlasting credit, he is willing to try almost anything.

Any suggestions for basic kind of 101 foods/preparations? Here's what is on our tentative list....

spring pea soup
caprese salad
carpaccio
seared scallop
shrimp ceviche
raw ahi
pork tenderloin - maybe coffee roasted?
bison steak with mashed potato
some sort of dessert

I feel like there's something that I'm missing. Any ideas?

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  1. More vegetables! Maybe roasted red peppers alongside raw ones for comparison. Kale chips. Spaghetti squash shredded out or zucchini fettuccine (with a vegetable peeler) tossed with butter, S&P and a sprinkle of cheese. A platter of marinated artichoke hearts, olives, spicy hummus, cucumber and carrot dippers.

    A cheese and fruit plate for dessert.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nemo

      Roasted asparagus or cauliflower

      1. re: chicgail

        I have eaten my weight in roasted asparagus this spring! Love the stuff. I think I'll start a post for a good pickled asparagus recipe.

    2. I think you are being a bit too ambitious serving anything raw. French research shows that children need to be exposed to a new food 12-17 times before it becomes "normal" Pickiness around food has many aspects, one important one to consider is control, make sure your friend has had a good day before you try to introduce new foods to him. The second consideration is texture, it is a BIG factor in why people don't like certain foods. I would also let him help with some prep (helps with control issues) so he sees how his food goes from basic ingredients to plate.

      I do really like the small plate idea.

      Good luck and I look forward to hearing how it turns out

      7 Replies
      1. re: ike04

        I agree about being over-ambitious. There are four dishes there that are raw or near raw which may, in total, be challenging and off-putting. Certainly I wouldnt like them all together and I'll eat just about anything.

        It seems though that all is not lost with the friend - rather than the thread title which says he only eats chicken, he actually also eats beef and pork in some forms.

        And likes strongly flavoured food - evidenced by the mention of Mexican and curry. When you say he doesnt eat vegetables, does that mean he might just eat only eat chicken for a meal - no carb or veg? The not even mashed potatoes may well be a texture thing (my partner doesnt eat it either), seeing as he will eat potato in the form of fried potato. Might be worth trying some other veg in a fried form to build on that - say some shredded cabbage and sit some pork on top of it.

        Cheese & fruit for dessert also sounds good - don't go too far adrift from strong hard cheeses like the Parmesan he likes

        1. re: Harters

          I totally agree with others here that you're being WAY too ambitious - particularly about serving "seared" scallops, carpaccio, shrimp ceviche, & raw ahi. What's this apparent "thing" you have about raw food?? You do realize that you'll be sending this poor person screaming out of the room. He's been severely sheltered/limited in his food preferences & you're going to be confirming his fears by serving him 4 dishes that are not only raw, but are all acquired tastes????

          Geesh - give the guy some common likeable vegetable dishes; give him some seared but cooked through scallops or braised in a nice sauce or in a Cioppino or Paella-type dish; cook the tuna rare, but COOK IT!! Raw "Shrimp Ceviche"? Forget it!!!! I'm very adventurous & have had both freshwater & saltwater shrimp sushi & sashimi, & it's not for everyone. This would be a mistake. Grill or saute those shrimp with garlic & herbs & serve it on its own like a tapas or over a small serving of Angel Hair pasta. And absolutely forget about the Carpaccio. Good Lord.

          While your heart "might" be in the right place, I can't help but feel that your menu is more in line with you showing your friend how "upscale" your personal tastes are & less in introducing him to the way the rest of the world is eating.

            1. re: LauraGrace

              Wow yes, but true. Better to do baby steps in the case of a guy who only eats chicken.

              1. re: EWSflash

                I was more commenting on the tone than the content. o.O

                1. re: LauraGrace

                  Perhaps, but I think it hits upon a possible tendency in terms of dealing with food: Is this about the poster and her wonderful and expansive tastes or is this about broadening another person's awareness of the range of good food out there?

                  The former is all too present at times and is more self-aggrandising than effective. Make it about the friend. (This is something you suggest below...)

            2. re: Bacardi1

              Thanks for the comments. I do appreciate it. I guess I wasn't really clear when writing the menu above. I can totally understand your thinking (but you were kind of harsh!).

              I was planning on a seared (but cooked through) scallop - not raw at all. I thought this would be a good introduction to a mild seafood.

              Also - the shrimp would be cooked before making the ceviche. I guess I was thinking more of the flavors of ceviche - lime, chiles, etc. No raw shrimp. I could make it a scampi.

              He did indicate an interest in sushi, so I thought one raw piece of ahi served with something else with a crunch would work. Again - my thinking was it isn't a fishy-fish.

              The carpaccio will probably come off the menu after seeing do many folks feel dicey about it.

              I do thank you for your input - and I assure you - my heart is in the right place. He wanted to be "challenged" so that is what guided our thoughts. :)

        2. Well, I think the most commonsense approach is to present food that he'll perceive familiarly in unfamiliar ways. The pea soup is good, caprese's great, the meat mains sound pretty spot-on. I'd advise against the raw preps, though - or at least as many of them as you're proposing, They may be too "out there" or scary for his taste just now.
          Why not some vegetables, maybe prepared differently than he's used to? Tempura'd, roasted?
          I think it's great that you're trying to expand is personal culinary horizon, and greater yet that he's not locked into a mindset of "hating" things he's never tried. Sounds like he just needs some education. He might like it; he might not; but at the end of the day, you both tried. :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: mamachef

            I love tempura sweet potatoes - and you could also try sweet potato fries since he likes french fries.

          2. I too would skip the raw preparations. Why not go for dishes that are already popular with many folks? What about spaghetti and meatballs? A nice braised beef with polenta? Risotto with parmesan and bacon? You could even start with an antipasto that offers lots of little bites of salami, cheeses, roasted veg and such. I have to admit when you I look at your list I see 4 dishes that wouldn't be high on my list.

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