I will be the first person to admit I am no daredevil when it comes to seeking thrills. Given my opposition to heights, skydiving, bungee jumping, rock climbing and that sort of thing — even just putting up Christmas lights makes me a little nervous — have never really appealed to me. That's not to say I don't enjoy the natural highs associated with those experiences; I just seek that out in other ways.
Adventure is out there! That malleable mantra, from the Pixar film "Up," is one I've adopted in a quest to feel a similar type of exhilaration, albeit one more in tune with my personal interests. Looking for adventure does not mean looking for danger, at least in my opinion, but that does not mean I'm opposed to pushing boundaries and expanding my horizons.
Case in point, I will try just about any food once. While I will admit to being a bit of a picky eater growing up, namely when it came to any type of vegetables, I found ways to enjoy some non-traditional kid foods. Yeah, it may have taken a bet to get me to eat a beet, but I was the oddball who actually liked liver (though I could do without the onions).
Getting older, I've come to be more accepting of leafy greens and the like, while also seeking out new and unknown food at every turn. With every culinary adventure I go on, I look for opportunities to excite my palate, whether by venturing to a brand new restaurant or trying a different dish at familiar ones. While friends and family around me fall into a routine in their eating habits, I like to push the envelope.
Even when my palate was still evolving, as a kid I remember pushing for curry crab pizza for dinner one night. Looking to try more of those flavors, I was undeterred in my first trip through the buffet at an Indian restaurant, going straight for the goat — pretty good, as long as you mind the bones.
Raw fish (outside of buffet sushi) was never really an option until I got to college, but it was when I went on a cruise with my family that I became hooked on the breakfast staple of bagels and lox, or cold-smoked salmon. I ate it almost every morning through the duration of the trip and came back craving it and wanting to try even more varieties (i.e. hamachi, tuna, etc.). Thankfully, Fuji Japanese Bistro has given me a great outlet in Newton and added even more items to check off — I've been eying the uni (sea urchin) for a while.
Being a diehard fan of the series "Top Chef," which first aired when I started college, has also had no small role in my blossoming culinary curiosity. Now, whenever I go on a trip I often find myself searching out the institutions of former "cheftestants."
From the Cap'n Crunch milkshake and burnt marshmallow foam at Richard Blais' Flip Burger Boutique in Atlanta to duck tongues at Stephanie Izard's Girl and the Goat in Chicago, I have not been disappointed yet — though I don't know if my friend Jeff has gotten over the shock of unknowingly eating the latter.
Upon getting a text from my sister about a new restaurant the other day, I was excited to find out she was recommending Hawaiian cuisine from Noble House, which will have have a presence at the "Ain't No Joke" food truck rally in downtown Newton this weekend. Though the event falls on her birthday, I not so subtly hinted that maybe our lunch plans had already been made — especially after trying the poké nachos at The Yardhouse in Kansas City, possibly the best appetizer I have ever eaten.
Setting out on a new adventure for breakfast, lunch or dinner is now an opportunity I actively seek out. Will I be able to try every restaurant and each unique delicacy from across the globe? Surely not, but as long as I make that attempt I know I will continue to be fulfilled by flavor combinations — like peanut butter and jalapeños on a burger —that may not have even been on my radar.
Dining on new dishes and at new restaurants, I am taking my own leap of faith. It may not come with the same risks of jumping out of a plane, but it still gives me a rush. Remember, adventure is out there, and it can be whatever you make it.
-Kelly Breckunitch is a general assignment/county reporter for The Kansan. He can be reached at email@example.com.