Victual Diversity: The Importance of Eating Boldly

Noticed the huge campaigns for diversity lately?  As a college student, I sure have. Look, I’m all for intellectual diversity and it’s really cool that people care and stuff, but WHAT ABOUT VICTUAL DIVERSITY?

Uh, you’re not getting it. (Xavier: Or maybe you are. If so, just go with it.) HOW CAN YOU NOT UNDERSTAND—okay. Look. Your inability to understand the definition of “victual diversity” underlines the seriousness of the lack of said diversity on this planet. (Xavier: Or maybe it underlines the nuttiness of your idea.)

Let’s roll an example. As one who is proud of his Chinese heritage, I often bring snacks from the Asian grocery store to college. It won’t be uncommon for me to ask folks if they want to try some. The answer might be a flat “no.” Which is completely fine. Otherwise, one of two things happen: the person either curiously takes some and eats it (victual-ly diverse; yay), OR I get “the look” (not so diverse). Not the one your mom gives you when you’ve just crossed a line, but the scrunched-up one with the interrogative eyes and a smile plastered on for the sake of being polite. Then it’s on to “Uh, what is that? Is it like Ritz crackers?” Then it takes ages to convince them to try the food and I’m left questioning myself why I bothered.

That question is quickly answered when the person finally takes a bite (or drink). Their eyes light up and it’s all worth it. And it’s not a pathetic 0.1 Watt bulb light either. It’s a REAL light-up. Sublight engines switch over, and the Falcon goes to light speed. That kind of thing. Of course, I’m happy that they got to arrive at Yummyness Central, but why does it take so long to get there?

I think it’s because a vast swath of people grow up less adventurous in terms of eating.  They are not “victual-ly diverse.” If it doesn’t look and/or smell familiar, folks are afraid to try it, and often miss out on something delicious. That’s why questions like “Does it taste like chicken?” exist. Everything new must relate to a recognized dish. So you might think the easiest way to “expand victual diversity” would be to simply fib and say “Uh, sure, yeah, kinda like chicken.” But then people will take a bite and go “Huh! It does taste a tiny bit like chicken.” Uh…no and…no. It doesn’t taste like chicken. It’s a unique, non-chicken food with a unique, non-chicken flavor. Victual diversity doesn’t get expanded if one is constantly associating new foods with old ones. Because then everything is just a different type of chicken. How would you feel if you were a completely different animal and someone said your taste was “basically chicken flavor?” (Xavier: I’d probably feel quite dead, genius.)

Okay. This whole time, I’ve been talking about victual diversity and never really defined it. (Xavier: Kids, always define your terms before using them.) In case you haven’t already Googled it, “victual” is a noun that basically means “food.” Fortunately for me, the “-ual” at the end makes the word look like an adjective and thus fit nicely in front of “diversity.” (Xavier: Ugh. Unbelievable.) You are victual-ly diverse if you are willing to try new foods with an open mind, without constantly checking beforehand if they “taste like chicken.”

NOTE: If you’re concerned about food safety, that’s a perfectly valid reason to not try a food. Xavier said I needed to note this here, so I did. (Xavier: Good.)

The logical question to ask now would be “Why is victual diversity important?” Easy. If you’re more willing to try new foods, you’re statistically more likely to discover another food you like. If you read that and said “well, duh,” then what’s keeping you from being victual-ly diverse? (Xavier: Look, I’m still not eating locusts. Food safety.)

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nothing is keeping you from missing out on the next amazing taste bud exciter, except the lack of victual diversity.

So here’s the call to action: Next time you get offered something you’ve never seen before, try it out. It could be the best thing since sliced bread, quite literally.

(Xavier: Quick note, the pictured food is a taro root which you can learn more about by Googling. Or eating.)