To say I am opinionated would be a drastic understatement. Since I was a kid, I’ve always had strong opinions on just about everything. It doesn’t matter how trivial the matter; you best believe that, one way or another, I’ve taken a steadfast stance. Sweet or salty? Salty, all day, every day. Health care? Universalize that. Artificial intelligence? Introduce strict regulation, pronto. Best Harry Potter book? Seriously, how is that even a question—it’s obviously Goblet of Fire. Oh, and seafood? Unambiguously, unequivocally, unmistakably hate seafood.
You see, my dislike for seafood has never been up for question. It’s always remained clear cut, and dates back as far as I can remember. When I was younger, every time my parents prepared some kind of seafood dish for dinner, I’d know it was time to begin whipping up my Kraft mac and cheese. In college, salmon nights in the dining hall could only mean one thing: I’d have to order up a burger from the grill. And while my friends would indulge in big bread bowls filled with San Francisco clam chowder, I’d be nibbling away at my sad slice of sourdough.
But this summer, I’ve been all about affirming a general commitment to stepping out of my comfort zone. In practice, this has meant jumping off of cliffs near Lake Bled. It’s meant venturing off marked trails to scale waterfalls in Triglav National Park. It’s meant kayaking across the Adriatic Sea at sunset. Most dauntingly, however, I figured that this commitment to trying new things—to saying yes—had to extend to seafood.
It would almost feel disingenuous not to sample some seafood, especially since Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is world famous for its fresh fish and expansive array of dishes. That being said, I still had my reservations. There is just something so inherently creepy about digging into a fish as its two eyes stare right back at you with a pained expression that simultaneously communicates judgment, fear, and distaste—or, hey, maybe I’m just projecting because I really, really did not want to try seafood.
But I had to—try seafood, that is. At the very least, I figured it would probably be too embarrassing to continue the rest of my trip aggressively avoiding anything with fins. At this point, I felt too old to continue on with my childlike pickiness. So it was time to abandon my strong opinions on seafood, and give it a chance.
I took my first bite. And it tasted…good? In fact, I enjoyed the third bite, the fourth bite, and then the entire plate was gone and I was suddenly unsure as to why I had so zealously steered clear of fish for the past 22 years of my life.
I’m not going to say I was remarkably brave or anything, but I will say that as I twirled my fork into the mix of pasta, white sauce, and—gulp—fresh scallops, my hand was barely even shaking. And then I did: I took my first bite. And it tasted…good? Surely, this had to be a fluke. I ventured another bite, needing to reexamine my initial conclusion, and—it couldn’t be—I enjoyed that too. In fact, I enjoyed the third bite, the fourth bite, and then the entire plate was gone and I was suddenly unsure as to why I had so zealously steered clear of fish for the past 22 years of my life.
Since that first fortuitous bite, I’ve taken great pride in ordering seafood dishes at basically every restaurant I’ve visited since. There was the Croatian bakalar na bijelo, a salted cod and potato dish that was delightfully filling. There was the peka pot filled with a surprisingly complementary mix of vegetables and octopus. And there have been many, many more bowls pleasantly filled to the brim with some classic seafood pasta.
So what’s the point of all of this? Well, first things first, here’s a hot take: seafood? Yeah, it’s pretty good. Now that this helpful travel tip is out of the way, let me just end on this note: it’s fine to be opinionated, but I’ve learned the hard way that remaining too deadset in your ways often ends up being pretty detrimental.
By all means, stay resolute in your beliefs; if hating seafood is one of your core values, then more power to you. But every so often, especially while traveling, it’s important to reexamine those beliefs and remain open to other possibilities. Because otherwise, you may miss out on what could be a fundamentally life changing plate of seafood pasta.
Lydia packed two pairs of shoes for her travels in Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro. She is counting on her well-worn, well-loved sneakers to carry her through coastal markets along the Adriatic, majestic ruins of ancient cities, and Balkan national parks. She also packed a pair of festive sandals, intended for long walks on the beach and questionable hostel showers alike. She considers this an exercise in versatility. When she isn’t carefully curating the most austere of packing lists, Lydia enjoys crafting incredibly niche Spotify playlists and reminding people that she is from California.