Would it surprise you to know that the first thing I remember watching on television is Reading Rainbow? As the child of two educators, books were a part of my life from the beginning. Luckily, I never had to wait for a rerun to see a favorite again–my mother bought the books LeVar recommended and read them to my sister and me herself. Favorites like Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Byron Barton, Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall and Barbara Cooney, and A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams were regulars in our bedtime repertoire.
My favorite, though, was always Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat. I loved this story of Gregory, a little goat who shuns his parents’ favorite meals of tires and tin cans in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables. At the time, i.e. the early eighties, I appreciated the humor, and I associated little Gregory with the goats we would visit in the petting zoo. As I a grew, though, so did my appreciation of Gregory and his trials and tribulations; I was a picky eater, too.
The Reading Rainbow theme song told me I could be anything… but I never became a good eater. When planning my wedding, my mother laid down the law: don’t even think about telling the caterer you want chicken fingers on the menu, she said. It wasn’t until I was actually married to my own Gregory (yes, that’s his name) that my eating habits began to change.
Whether it is because he grew up in Hong Kong or because he’s simply easy to please at the table, my husband Gregory is the best (as well as the most adventurous) eater I know. He eats–or dreams of eating–the kind of things that the average American is more likely to see on Bizarre Foods than on the plate of their dinner companion. True story: I once found octopus in my refrigerator. I have no desire to try said octopus, but I’m proud of my husband’s educated palate.
With Gregory’s encouragement, I’ve tried a number of things I never would have eaten otherwise–most notably, a variety of Asian vegetables and, lately, Korean food. Despite the recent diversity of my dinners, I’m not rushing into anything. I prefer to take new culinary challenges the same way you eat an elephant: one bite at a time.
Purchase Reading Rainbow Season 1, Epsidode 11 featuring Gregory the Terrible Eater here.