No artichokes. No liver. No eggplant. The four restaurants I was assigned as a rookie Taste of Buffalo judge seemed to have dishes I could stomach.

I’ve never been much of a veggie fan, but since I became the WNY Refresh editor at The Buffalo News a little more than four years ago, I knew I should embrace better eating if I was going to write about health, fitness, nutrition and family life in the region.

But even a healthy eater has limits. Erin Collins, one of the helpers with the Taste – which continues from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday in and around Niagara Square – told me in advance that if I really didn’t like a certain food, I could swap out one of my four restaurants.

Fairness counts when it comes to such a task, after all. I sought advice from veterans, and felt a bit more confident going in.

Mayor Byron W. Brown, who’s judged a dozen contests, told me some of the owners of the nearly 60 restaurants and food trucks have been known to ladle on more food, sauces, and even sing a song as a way to gain influence.
Food Editor Andrew Galarneau advised taking only one or two nibbles of each dish I would judge – 19 in all – or I’d be too full to best assess the last couple of stops.

“You should have brought somebody. You’ll never be able to eat that much food,” Jacquie Walker told me when I reached the judge’s staging area on Saturday morning. Her husband, Mike Beato, was ready to join her.

I couldn’t convince anyone in my family to do so at 11 a.m. My youngest daughter, 24, and her boyfriend are vegan. My oldest daughter, 26, has limited tastes and wouldn’t dream of getting out of bed before noon on a Saturday. My fiancée? She’s one of the healthiest eaters I know and always has been cool to a food festival in the city that birthed the beef on weck and chicken wing, and for my money has the best pizza in the world.

I was on my own. Worse, I pitched a story to my editor about finding healthy fare at this year’s festival, and the GetFried Fry Café was one of the choices on my list.