A cook's dilemma 厨师左右为难

Salmon with toast

How about this as the first course?

Vocabulary: Food 词汇: 食品

What to cook when you have guests? I always feel like I'm walking on eggshells when I have to prepare a dinner party for new friends or people I don't know well.

Some eaters are picky and don't like cheese. Others can't stand a particular vegetable. And even puddings have their critics. Attitudes towards food can be formed during childhood and have an impact on the rest of their lives.

President George Bush senior, for example, banned broccoli aboard the presidential plane, Air Force One. ''I do not like broccoli!'' the President said in 1990. ''And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli!''

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It left a bitter taste in the mouth of the American farmers who produced the vegetable.

Dr Emma Uprichard from the University of Warwick published a study on food hates. It revealed common patterns in the foods British people reject.

They don't like milk puddings - semolina and rice pudding - often associated with school dinners of the 50s and 60s.

But it's not only bad memories that make us turn our noses up at certain foods. There are biological reasons too. Scientists researching genetic differences say there are various groups of ''tasters''.

The one they call ''super tasters'' are more likely to have strong aversions to bitter foods such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts. I always keep my fingers crossed that none of my dinner party guests are in this group.

And food is about cultural diversity too. The British don't eat horse meat. Brazilians like a black bean stew with pork which, in the experience of a Brazilian cooking for friends here in London, isn't popular with Kurdish people.

Sometimes I think the life of a host would be easier if we could just serve everybody a simple omelette, seasoned with love and friendship.

What about you? If I invited you for dinner what would you like me to cook for you?

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