Our newest Dish blogger, Dan I., is the head of the Restaurant.com Independent Consultant Support team.  Dan is an advocate for dining adventurously and will be sharing his tips to help readers get out of their culinary comfort zones in his new series, “Adventures In Dining.”

Tradition is a beautiful thing.   From your sacred spot on the couch closest to the television, to the comfort and security provided by that simple home cooked meal, we’re all comfortable with things that we know.  But every now and again, when life gets in the way and you find yourself peeling the plastic back on yet another “home-style” TV dinner, it’s time to GET UP, GET OUT, and experience something new.

I, personally, am a food fanatic.  Maybe it’s pure luck that I landed here at Restaurant.com, or maybe its fate.  Either way, I have spent the majority of my days here reviewing menus from every corner of the culinary spectrum.  Whether I’m cooking for myself or going out to eat, new and wonderfully creative dishes never cease to thrill me.  So, the Dish team has asked me to help encourage others to get out of their comfort zone from time to time and try to dine more adventurously.

Lesson 1: Every food deserves a second chance

How often do we really get things right the first time?  There are many common sayings dedicated to this exact principle.  “Practice Makes Perfect,” “Better Late Than Never” and “Rome wasn’t built in a day ya know!” I apply these quotes to my daily life and of course, to food.  Just because you have in your mind that you don’t like a food – ahem, cooked green vegetables – doesn’t mean you should eliminate them from your diet forever.

Just because you’ve had asparagus in a familiar restaurant and it was boiled to the point where it was almost mush, unseasoned and bland, doesn’t mean you should give up on poor asparagus forever.  A nice home-style Italian restaurant might give you a different opinion.  Picture lightly steamed asparagus spears still packing that homegrown snap basted in olive oil, topped with parmesan bread crumbs, minced garlic, lightly sprinkled black pepper and baked to a perfect golden crunch.  Take a bite out of that and tell me I’m wrong!

Maybe it was the time your mother forced you to eat spinach that went from a can to the stove to your plate with only a slight dash of salt.  “Eat it or you get no dessert!” she’d say, so you’d choke as much of it down as you could, face turning green, pining over that one chocolate chip cookie that would make it all worth your suffering.  Well you are an adult now, and the days of exclusively eating grilled cheese and hot dogs with ketchup only died long ago.  Try some spinach and artichoke dip! That soft, perfectly seasoned, melting cheesiness clinging to the edge of a chip, parts of it baked golden brown, parts creamy and delicious will erase the bad memories.  It’s as if a flavor bomb went off inside your mouth.  The tactical response to this unavoidable explosion?  Not the yuck of yesteryear, but an emphatic MMMMMM!

If you’ve tried something a few times and truly don’t like it, that’s ok, we have the option to say, “No, that’s not for me.”   We do, however, get to go out, sit down, and enjoy the flavors of the world being brought right to our table.  So tonight, tomorrow, this week, think of your least favorite ingredients and challenge yourself to find a new restaurant that does something a little different with that ingredient.  Who knows, it might just be something you’ve been looking for all along!

Do you have a food you refuse to eat?  Tell us why in the comments section below – maybe we have a new twist on that item for you to try!