Are You Guilty of “Once-and-For All-ism”?
I enjoy reading very widely on a variety of topics. This weekend I ran across a blog post written by an Economics professor from George Mason University. He was discussing intellectual mistakes that people make in processing or communicating what they believe ( https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2022/06/the-intellectual-mistake-of-once-and-for-allism.html). Here is the quote that caught my attention:
““Once-and-for-allism” occurs when people decide that they wish to stop worrying about an issue at the margin. They might either dismiss the issue, or they might blow up its importance but regard the issue as hopeless and undeserving of further consideration. Either way, they seek to avoid the hovering sense of “I’ve still got to devote time and energy to figuring this out.” They prefer “I am now done with this issue, once and for all!” Thus the name of the syndrome.”
Obviously Professor Cowen was discussing our approach to vital issues of the day, but his statement started me thinking about “once and for all” decisions that I had made along my culinary journey.
Very early in life, I made the decision that I do not like cheese. To be honest, it was because I preferred the taste of a hamburger to that of a cheeseburger. But instead of testing my hypothesis by trying different types of cheese, I made the decision, once and for all, that I do not like cheese.
I was not consistent in this decision. I allowed the exception that mozzarella was okay - in fact, I found that I actually liked mozzarella cheese. But that was as far as I would go in breaching the “I do not like cheese” wall.
THEN, someone served Brie at a function I attended, and I found that there was another exception to my once and for all decision. Now I have finally amended my decision to, “ there are some cheeses that I do not prefer, but there are some that I really like.”
The problem is there were 50 years between my “once and for all” decision and my willingness to amend my statement after trying different cheeses. I missed out on a lot of cheese enjoyment in those years because I made a once and for all decision and convinced myself that I do not like cheese.
Somewhere in my formative years, I got sick after eating a chicken salad sandwich. So I made the once and for all decision that I didn’t like chicken salad. Now, after another multi-decade gap, a good chicken salad sandwich is one of my favored summer choices.
Are there any “once-and-for-all-isms” in your culinary journey? Is it an ingredient that you have decided you do not like, or a method of cooking that you have deemed as silly? Are you letting one negative experience, which may not have had anything to do with the food you ate at all, keep you from something that may love?
Instead of making a “once-and-for-all” decision that you do not like cheese, spend some time getting to know the various types of cheeses. Talk with an expert, do some sampling. We have a very fine cheese shop here in my hometown in western Michigan. I think I’ll drop in this week and do a little learning and sampling!!
By Robby Richardson