The first food that I fell in love with was dutch meat balls. They were a staple in my house growing up. I now make them out of game meat, but when was a kid my parents and Oma (grandmother) used beef. It was the meal I would request on my birthday and I just adored it.
Generally, we had straight forward meals growing up. Both my parents worked hard and we always had good food to eat.
As I grew up, I found myself always looking for new and interesting food experiences. I remember the first time I really enjoyed sushi and the all you can eat Chinese buffets that have pretty much all since disappeared. I learned quickly that food is one of the great passions in my life and that I will forever be looking to the food as the gateway to experiencing new cultures and places.
I travel on my stomach and I judge a place by its food. I will never turn down something new to eat as long as I don't seriously fear for my safety. As an adult the drive to try new food has brought me to amazing food experiences. Highlights have been yogurt in Greece, boeuf bourguignon in France, Kobe beef in Japan, dim sum in Hong Kong, poffertjes kroketten and in Holland, this one perfect steak in San Francisco, and the list goes on.
Asia has been responsible for some of the best meals I have ever had and some of the strangest. In China I had amazing mutton and mantis shrimp. If you ever get the chance to try mantis shrimp, holy shit, try it. I also tried dog... yeah it was tough and nothing to write home about. I also had whale in Japan. When I had the whale though, they didn't tell me what I was having. This plate of what looked like deep fried chicken tenders arrived and we all dove in for a piece. Our host asked us what we thought it was. None of us had any idea, until one person said it tasted like fishy beef. The response was "Yes! Its whale,". I'll be honest, it was really good. Ethically dubious, but good. On another trip to Japan I had chicken sashimi and I am not dead, so this whole salmonella thing is a bit overblown. Also had raw horse that same day I had the chicken sashimi. I'll eat anything, but neither blew me away.
However, the most ethically dubious but fantastic food I have ever had is Bluefin Tuna. Yes, it is threatened, but damn it is good. Japan has a million ways to serve Bluefin Tuna and they are all good.
I'll rant later about vegans, vegitarians, and pescatarians, but for now I'll say this. I can't imagine a world without meat or fish. It would diminish one of my greatest joys and make life hard to live. I can't for a second empathize with someone who doesn't dream of their next amazing meal or reminisce about that time in that place you ate that thing. My life is hugely defined by the amazing meals I have had.
I recently had a business trip with a vegetarian colleague in Japan. His food needs determined so much of the trip. Furthermore, Japan is one of the most amazing food destinations and to miss out on that aspect of the culture is such a shame.
I'll end this post saying that in spite of everything above, I do have ethics, or at least I have evolving ethics about food. I am not static in my opinions and I love lively debate. I can be wrong, or at the very least, I can compromise. Who I am today is largely shaped with my latest ethical opinions about food. I'm sure that I'll change over time. Let's see.