A tomato. Some call it a fruit, some a vegetable. Some call it delicious, others disgusting. Up until the 221st day of my 16th year on Earth, I was a proud member of the “Tomatoes are disgusting!” group. I had to pay $3,000, travel 4,000 miles, get on five busses, one airplane, and pack the largest suitcase I own to figure out on June 12, 2009 that I really belonged in the “I LOVE TOMATOES!!!” group.
Traveling through France with a tour group of 50 people is quite an interesting experience. Meals were easily the highlight of my journey because we rented out an entire restaurant to ourselves for two hours and were served a three-course dinner every day. After a busy, busy day exploring the vast grounds of the Versailles palace, we stopped at a small restaurant just outside Paris city limits and got ready to eat another fabulous repast.
All throughout our trip, I had been afraid of having something served to me that I truly did not like. We were given no option to order, food was simply set in front of us to eat and plates were collected at the end. As I jumped on my AirFrance flight earlier that week, my mom gave me a card to open on the plane. When I finally remembered to drag it out of my backpack once we got across the great big blue, I found she had written (in rather large capital letters) “TRY NEW THINGS!” Well, for the first two days, I was lucky enough to avoid taking her advice.
On the third day, the travel gods decided to play a very cruel trick to test my endurance.
There it was, sitting on a round white plate. Plump and a blood red color, sliced horizontally with bits of mozzarella in between each slice; the tomato sat before me.
It would surely be my undoing.
There was absolutely no way I was going to eat a tomato. I had never eaten a tomato in my life and why was France going to change anything?
I sat there staring at it for several minutes. All at once, it was like my life was flashing before my eyes. Images of me refusing to eat tomatoes, cucumbers, and various other foods circled my frantic brain and I could almost hear my mom chanting, “Try it! Try it! Try it!” in my head.
I made an announcement to my table.
“Attention everyone. I would just like to let you know that I will be trying a tomato for the first time in my life.”
And with 5 other people watching, I took my fork, cut off a piece, and shoved it, apprehensively, in my mouth.
How could I have waited so long to taste the amazing qualities of that vegetable/fruit many people take for granted?
As I finished up my weeklong trip, I decided that at every meal, I would try one more new thing. And when I got back home, my newfound habit of trying new things didn’t just stop at food, I was trying everything!
Why did it take me traveling 4,000 miles, getting on five busses, one airplane, and packing the largest suitcase I own to find the confidence to try new things? And why did it have to start with a tomato? I don’t know, but I thank that tomato every day for teaching me one very valuable lesson.
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