Back in my undergrad days, I met one of my dearest friends. She comes from a rich southeast Asian heritage, specifically Pakistan. It was at her house, at her dinner table, where all my prejudices about "foreign" food shattered and my tastebuds experienced the glory of spice for the first time.
Let me tell you a little bit about my food preferences pre-Pakistani food. I loved pinoy cuisine, of course, but nothing with any heat. I enjoyed the food my husband (then boyfriend) ate with his family, but was averse to anything that smelled too strongly of spice. Basically, I felt like a big bad foodie because I ate chicken feet and pig liver, but in reality, I was a spice sham.
That is, until I ate lentils, roti, and some savory chicken dish I don't remember, with my hands as the rest of the family did. I remember hearing an Indian chef say that unless you ate with your hands, you could not reach the full sensory experience of the dish. Perhaps it was that, or perhaps it was the good company, or maybe her mother poured love and care into the dishes that occasioned the sea change in my culinary landscape. Whatever it was, I'm glad for it. Dishes with complex spices are a treat for me and I still find myself craving the same dishes I used to eat at her house. Now that she has moved across the country (ready to have a baby!) and her sisters are scattered across the globe, I miss dining with them. Now, I eat at random middle eastern and southeast asian cuisine establishments, but it's just not the same.
For those of you who are wary of trying new foods, go to a friend's house and have dinner with their family. There is no better way to experience something new than to share food with friends.