Mushrooms. Candice Opper, a 32-year-old student at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, grew up thinking of them as slippery little stealth bombs with a funky taste and flabby texture, hidden in everything from her dad's canned spaghetti sauce to her mom's tuna noodle casserole.
Even worse were "mushrooms fried in a ton of butter until nearly black and served with overcooked steak," says Opper, who attempted to feed them to her dog.
The dog, it turns out, "only liked broccoli," says Opper, who resorted to picking the fungi out of any dish she found them in: "A lot of my early mushroom memories involved canned mushrooms, which already had an unpleasant, overprocessed texture, or fresh mushrooms that had been cooked to death," she says.
Still, because her vegetarian inclinations led her to forgo meat for eight years, she was destined for dozens of mushroom meet-ups, prompting her to try -- and try again. Opper's conversion moment came during a restaurant meal when she discovered that "mushrooms tasted pretty good if they were properly prepared." First, she tried a vegetarian portabella-patty burger and thought it tasty. Next, she encountered stuffed mushroom caps, "and I was in love!"
Now, she can't get enough. "I eat mushrooms whenever they appear," sliced raw in salads, simmered in stews, tossed in stir-fries, or minced, shaped, and cooked like burgers. The bad memories of flabby fungi are just that: memories.