Picky Eating - Mental Disorder?
July 6, 2010 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Picky Eating might be added to the DSM.
posted by backseatpilot (358 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is what Heather Hill eats: French fries, pasta with butter or marinara sauce, vegetarian pizza, cooked broccoli, corn on the cob and cakes and cookies without nuts.

And what she doesn't eat? Pretty much anything else.


I'm no shrink, and we all have our preferences, but I'd say Ms. Hill might be carrying it to the point of neurosis. Just saying.
posted by jonmc at 9:10 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good. That need to be treated. Especially vegetarianism. HAMBURGER
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:12 AM on July 6, 2010 [18 favorites]


At least they're admitting that it's picky eating, not claiming an asparagus allergy.
posted by sanko at 9:13 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Picky eating, carried past early childhood, just sounds depressing to me as a foodie. Trying new foods is one of the few novelties left in adulthood. Depriving yourself that sounds really boring.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:14 AM on July 6, 2010 [59 favorites]


Good. That need to be treated. Especially vegetarianism. HAMBURGER
posted by mccarty.tim


So rife for snarking... must not... forward to... vegan friends...
posted by johnnybeggs at 9:14 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


lolDSM again? We all know that a big reason to have something added to the DSM is so that it can be assigned an insurance billing code for its treatment if the symptoms become distressing enough, right?

The most interesting (and LOL) part of the article is this here:

The first national public registry of picky eating
, launched last week by researchers at Duke University and the University of Pittsburgh, will allow people to log in and report on their unusual eating preferences and habits. Doctors also hope the effort will spur the development of improved treatment techniques for adult picky eaters. (The registry can be found online at eatingdisorders.mc.duke.edu. On the right side of the page, click on the Finicky Eating in Adults study link.)

I'm actually kind of excited to see the results.
posted by availablelight at 9:17 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


... and... cue handwringing about how psychiatry "just doesn't get it"...
posted by koeselitz at 9:18 AM on July 6, 2010


Well that's just crazy.
posted by TedW at 9:18 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I only eat locavores.
posted by everichon at 9:18 AM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


I also feel sorry for picky eaters, but my sympathy ends when they stop keeping their pickiness to themselves. Please don't make puking sounds when I mention I went out for sushi, OK?
posted by JoanArkham at 9:18 AM on July 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


She describes foods that don't appeal to her as if they are inedible objects. "You wouldn't put a handful of grass in your mouth and chew it up," says the 29-year-old.

DON'T YOU TELL ME WHAT I WOULDN'T DO
posted by Greg Nog at 9:19 AM on July 6, 2010 [102 favorites]


Does this really need its own classification (so it can give rise to yet another collection of re-branded SSRIs and the like, and another flavor of pop-psych self help spew?) Is this not OCD manifested as an eating disorder?
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:21 AM on July 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


Amber Scott, of Enon, Ohio, has eaten only about 10 different foods since she was 3 years old.

God. That's terrible.

Ms. Hill describes her own habits as inconvenient and limiting to her life. To get around eating with friends, she tells them she is fasting or has already eaten. Two Thanksgiving's ago, when visiting her husband's family, she avoided dinner by hanging out with the kids in another room, she says.

That's even worse. The grocer's apostrophe, I mean.
posted by rtha at 9:22 AM on July 6, 2010 [49 favorites]


There is a documentary about these type of people floating around the internet. As a foodie, i thought it was incredibly sad. And it's obvious that the majority of these people have some significant psychological issues relating to food.
posted by gnutron at 9:26 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


For reasons that aren't clear, almost all adult picky eaters like French fries and often chicken fingers, health experts say.

so not so much different than 6 year old American picky eaters. I wonder if this is culturally specific?
posted by availablelight at 9:26 AM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Is this not OCD manifested as an eating disorder?
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:21 AM on July 6 [1 favorite +] [!]


Neat result! Where's the journal article?
posted by Jpfed at 9:26 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


My daughter eats a Peanut Butter Veggie Dog Pizza for dinner EVERY NIGHT: A mini whole wheat pita, peanut butter on it, sliced veggie dogs on top. She's 4 so we allow this (all in all it's a good source of protein and fiber for her) but this has been dinner every night for at least a year now.

Now I can officially call her mentally disturbed, right?
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:28 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I worry that my insanely picky 7 year old will end up like this. She loves bacon, though, so I cling to that as evidence that there is hope for her palate and that she is just a headstrong child who will grow to love other delicious foods.
posted by jeoc at 9:30 AM on July 6, 2010


Mock allergies as picking eating if you must, but my eggplant allergy pisses me off. I love eggplant. Every time I ask if a veggie plate has eggplant, I get "picky eater" looks when I'm really just trying to avoid anaphylaxis.

My love of ears, tails, feet, all manner of innards and strange vegetables gets me looks from people on the other side of the spectrum too.

Personally, I could give a fuck what you want to eat. I could care less if someone wants to classify personal preferences as a disorder.

The only reason I care about your food preferences is to help me decide whether I want to go out to eat with you or have you over to my house for dinner.
posted by Seamus at 9:30 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


My brief attempt at being a personal chef a few years ago taught me that the picky eaters far outnumber the "I'll try anything once" crowd. Meeting new clients, it was usually an 80% likelihood that they would not eat onions, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, cheese, fish, or some combination thereof. In almost every instance, it was a childhood prejudice that person simply chose not to get over, not an OCD issue, but I can easily see how eating is a hotbed for OCD-related problems.
posted by briank at 9:31 AM on July 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


Ms. Scott, a writer, is planning to move to Los Angeles and is "terrified" of having to sit through networking dinners.

Just wait until someone tells her what "sous-vide" means.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:33 AM on July 6, 2010


My daughter eats a Peanut Butter Veggie Dog Pizza for dinner EVERY NIGHT

When can I come over for dinner?
posted by marxchivist at 9:33 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Unlike people with anorexia or bulimia, picky eaters don't seem to make food choices based on calorie content. They aren't necessarily skinny or obsessed with looking a certain way. Researchers don't know yet what drives the behavior, but they say textures and smell can account for a picky eater's limited diet. Some will only eat foods with one consistent texture or one taste, leading some medical experts to speculate that picky eaters have some obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Doctors worry that over the long term such eating habits could lead to nutritional deficiencies linked to health concerns, including bone and heart problems.

Picky eaters tend to gravitate to certain foods, including blander products that are often white or pale colored, like plain pasta or cheese pizza. For reasons that aren't clear, almost all adult picky eaters like French fries and often chicken fingers, health experts say.

Amber Scott, of Enon, Ohio, has eaten only about 10 different foods since she was 3 years old. She describes foods that don't appeal to her as if they are inedible objects. "You wouldn't put a handful of grass in your mouth and chew it up," says the 29-year-old. "I feel the same way about spaghetti." It isn't as much the flavor as it is the texture and the way her body reacts to a new food, she says. When she tried eating an apricot last fall, her stomach churned. "I really wanted to like it, but my body wouldn't let me," she says.
Um.... okay, is it at all possible to have a mild form of this? This description creeps me out. I didn't realize it wasn't normal?

Since I was a child, I've had a great deal of physical difficulty eating foods with certain textures, strong smells and/or flavors. I'm actually most comfortable eating very bland foods like pastas, breads and dairy products -- they're my go-to comfort foods.

I do experiment and have cooked and tried a very wide range of foods over the years -- to varying success. One of the reason I cook so much at home is I know what I can and can't eat without problems. 
posted by zarq at 9:33 AM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


My kids and I were discussing the one food universally loved, something everyone will eat and enjoy. Potato chips, no?
posted by Keith Talent at 9:35 AM on July 6, 2010


As a child I was a picky eater and I'm still...ritualistic?...about it. Basically I have maybe 3-5 different meals I always make. However, I mainly credit laziness for this, since I'm fine eating things other people make (restaurants, etc) and even make new dishes myself sometimes. Like, it'll be A, B and C for 3 months, then I drop A and add D for 3 months, then C is old hat and I had E and F for 6 months or whatever.
posted by DU at 9:38 AM on July 6, 2010


My son, now 6, refused to spend time on his belly as a baby. He didn't crawl. Developmental specialists claimed that not spending time on his belly has resulted in him being very sensitive to new stimulus and new textures in food. He hates new food, loud noises, unexpected rough housing, etc. However, we have worked very hard at opening him up to new foods and textures and it is slowly working. It would be very easy to give up and give him the macaroni and cheese or peanut butter sandwich that he wants for every meal. But I love him to much to allow that.
posted by kenaldo at 9:39 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


In almost every instance, it was a childhood prejudice that person simply chose not to get over, not an OCD issue, but I can easily see how eating is a hotbed for OCD-related problems.

Or, you know, it could just be that they don't like the taste of those ingredients.
posted by Electrius at 9:40 AM on July 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


I'm curious. What would happen if you either starved said person and their only options were the food they claim they can't eat, or just, you know, forced them to eat it?

Not solutions. Just curiosity. I doubt this disorder exists among those who don't have enough to eat. Or any food options at all.
posted by Malice at 9:41 AM on July 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


The line between a disorder and a personality quirk is the point at which the issue negatively affects your quality of life (or that of people who are close to you). If you cope by mostly eating at home that's totally cool. If you're lying to people around you or obsessively fearing for your children's health, that's probably a disorder.
posted by nev at 9:42 AM on July 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


I'm curious. What would happen if you either starved said person and their only options were the food they claim they can't eat, or just, you know, forced them to eat it?

Being picky about anything is a luxury
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:45 AM on July 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


I wonder if some of this is similar to "supertaster" traits, where certain tastes and sensations are stronger.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:45 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


"I'll try anything once" crowd.

Is it possible to have the opposite of picky eating? I was a picky growing up (Chicken fingers!) but now I'm so easily bored by food that I'll gladly shove anything into my mouth if it promises a fraction of novel thrill. "Smoked Puffin breast in honey and almonds served with rose-infused rice and rasins and spicy pickled cabbage? Bah! I had that yesterday. Don't you have anything interesting?"

As a result, I am a pain to live with.
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 AM on July 6, 2010 [30 favorites]


OK, I have totally redefined what it means to be a picky eater. Wow.

I wonder if this might be an extension of societal tendencies as well as an expression of more deeply rooted personal problems. I mean, fifty years ago, when giving a dinner party (or five hundred, or five thousand years ago), you didn't have to quiz each guest about their allergies and food preferences. I speak of a certain class of people, of course. (You can take the word "class" any way you'd like.)
posted by kozad at 9:46 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


...they would not eat onions, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, cheese, fish, or some combination thereof. In almost every instance, it was a childhood prejudice that person simply chose not to get over, not an OCD issue...

I think there's a vast territory in there that is neither "prejudice" that one has not "chosen to get over" nor OCD. Can a person simply not like fish?
posted by DU at 9:48 AM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I don't even have to self-diagnose. Everyone who's ever met me has already done it. I eat like a six year old.

Fortunately, I work with children. It's an excellent cover.

(I'm also not terrible, I'll try almost anything but the list of foods that I know I don't like is extensive enough that foodies throw up their hands and scoff at me.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:48 AM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Well some of my familial picky eating was money-based. You only had so much cash per week and if you used it something you didn't like (or, more likely your kids don't like) then that money was just gone and it's cereal for dinner again. It was easier to just make the same 4-5 dishes over and over again. When I started doing the bulk of the cooking in the house, I'll still dirty looks from my mom if I got some new kind of bread or something, not cause she didn't like it but because no one had tried it yet and it was possible waste of money.
posted by The Whelk at 9:49 AM on July 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


Potato chips are too fatty for everyone to like. I vote for bread.

I know a few people like this. I'm not really opposed to picky eating being in the DSM. But I do have a pretty low opinion of the DSM and the standards needed to get a disorder in there. (Though I'm not sure what the criteria are for the DSM-5... maybe they've gotten better. If anyone knows a good article on the construction of the DSM-5, please let me know.)

So I wonder, for instance, if picky eating has any sort of cross-cultural validity. Are there picky eaters in India? In China? The DSM only purports to be a compendium of Western disorders, and disorders are no less real if they are culture-specific, but I'd think that a diagnostic category should be given more consideration for inclusion if it appears across all cultures.
posted by painquale at 9:50 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


My daughter eats a Peanut Butter Veggie Dog Pizza for dinner EVERY NIGHT

When I was three or four, I would pretty much only eat Campbell's chicken noodle soup.

By the time I was seven or eight, I was saving my allowance so I could buy my favorite Saturday lunch - sushi and chocolate milk. (Okay, so the sushi was inari, and thus fishless. But I liked fish sushi too.)
posted by rtha at 9:50 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it possible to have the opposite of picky eating?

It's called hipsteritis. Comorbidities include Brooklynism (known as Somerville Fever in the Bay State), the Fixies, and Inflammation of the Blog.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:51 AM on July 6, 2010 [33 favorites]


I'm wondering where the line is between being an official diagnosed Picky Eater and just having preferences. Sometimes, you can just dislike a handful of foods, but because they're used as ingredients in a lot of other foods, there are lot of recipes you end up not liking.

In almost every instance, it was a childhood prejudice that person simply chose not to get over...

I can't stand onions or peppers, and I've tried multiple times to "get over" it. Most recently, I ate part of an Amy's pizza that I was convinced had no onions (I only eat pizza once or twice a month, btw, not as a staple), and I had to give up after choking down the first piece. A closer read of the box confirmed that it did, indeed have red onions in it that I'd overlooked. I have no problems with strong flavors in general, but I just can't eat onions. I'll eat around them, but too much onion-flavor makes me kind of queasy. But do you know how many foods Americans stick onions in?

Other than a few (4-6) things I deeply dislike, I am known as an "adventurous" eater - I have to try the weirdest thing on a menu whenever I go anywhere new. As long as there are no onions.
posted by wending my way at 9:52 AM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


So since all mental diseases can be treated by swallowing a pill, therefore-

Oh, wait.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:52 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


1) Market a new line of food called 'Finicky Human' with genetically modified, nutrient-enhanced entree versions of french fries and chicken fingers.
2) ????
3) Profit!
posted by Menomena at 9:53 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


My kids and I were discussing the one food universally loved, something everyone will eat and enjoy. Potato chips, no?

Define "food." Potato chips are potatoes sliced in a certain manner, deep fried and seasoned. This is a cooked food.

Strawberries, and/or other fruits, are probably universally loved, but are most often eaten raw.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:53 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I vote for bread.



CAAAAAAAAAAARBS!
posted by The Whelk at 9:54 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Is this not OCD manifested as an eating disorder?"
That assumes a lot of things, including, inter alia...And, of course, more. Any one of these assumptions may now be true, or may be true in the future, or may be a description of what psychiatrists & clinical psychologists believe now (or in the future).

Some day, probably - hopefully - we will understand mental disorders better than we do now, and on that day, your question could be properly adjudicated. For now? As always, cui bono?
posted by mister-o at 9:55 AM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Can a person simply not like fish?

Right here, dude. I have tried and tried. All different types of fish, all different preparations. The only "fish" I like is when it's served in a ceviche.

I'm open to suggestions ... but for now, the fish of the world's oceans are safe from me.

Crustaceans and mollusks, though? I am become death, destroyer of clams, oysters, squid ...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:57 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


My kids and I were discussing the one food universally loved, something everyone will eat and enjoy. Potato chips, no?

Not a bad choice, but potatoes in general are eaten in far smaller quantities the further east yout travel in Asia. If you're willing to set aside vegetarians from your definition of universal, I'd nominate fried chicken. I've never been anywhere they didn't love fried chicken, and I've been a lot of places.

KFC, for example, is far and away the most effortless globetrotter in the fast food biz. I mean, you plop a McDonald's down in like Delhi, you've got to explain to people what this food is and all that. (McDonald's literally had a floorwalking employee who did just this at the first McD's in Delhi.) Whereas you open a fried chicken outlet, people are like: Fried chicken? Fuckin' A! Hook me up! Your only problem is competing with the local versions already up and running.

In fact, the extreme picky eaters in the linked article often cite chicken fingers, which are basically fried chicken pieces with the icky reference to an actual animal removed.
posted by gompa at 9:58 AM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


Or, you know, it could just be that they don't like the taste of those ingredients.

Or, y'know, not. Time and time again, someone would say they didn't like one of those things (and it was almost always one of the things in that list), only to admit that they hadn't eaten said thing since they were little. That's not to say that people can't have genuine aversions to those foods, it's just my experience that the people I met had been avoiding them out of long-established habit, not actual dislike. After a while, it was pretty predictable.
posted by briank at 9:59 AM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Crustaceans and mollusks, though? I am become death, destroyer of clams, oysters, squid ...

*glare*
posted by The Whelk at 10:01 AM on July 6, 2010 [32 favorites]


I'm curious. What would happen if you either starved said person and their only options were the food they claim they can't eat, or just, you know, forced them to eat it?

First, one of my favorite Paul F Tompkins bits


Then, to address the question...you could not force or pay me to eat a pickle. They look like turds floating in jars of piss to me.
posted by stifford at 10:02 AM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Ugh. It's not like she requires a separate utensil per food item or freaks out at the thought of other food touching each other or if someone takes a sip out of her glass (say siginifant other) that she freaks out and immediately wretches.

Sheesh.

Not that I would know *whistles away*
posted by stormpooper at 10:02 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems some of the people here are talking about food blacklisting versus the issue talked about in the article, which is food whitelisting. If you blacklist some foods but will eat most others, it seems that wouldn't be a big deal compared to those who will only eat a limited number of whitelisted foods.
posted by kmz at 10:02 AM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


I was a somewhat picky eater as a kid, and while I still have limited preferences in fish and cheese, I'm a lot more adventurous now, thank goodness. But then again, my family served a limited range of vegetables and other foods when I was a kid. I didn't try broccoli until I was offered it at a friend's place when I was 24 (and I loved it immediately -- go figure.)

BBC had a series on picky eaters who ate only crisps, or pasta, or chicken fingers, and who would gag if they had to eat any vegetable except for tomato sauce (as in pasta sauce, not ketchup). But their families didn't seem to be terribly adventurous eaters either, so I can see how a somewhat picky kid with some possible OCD tendencies could more easily get to the point where they could eat only 2-3 foods if the typical family meals were only about 10-15 foods.

Strawberries, and/or other fruits, are probably universally loved, but are most often eaten raw.

You may very well think so, but -- nope. I once knew someone who never ate raw fruit as a kid, and stubbornly refused to even try as an adult. And this account from a picky eaters blog describes someone gamely attempting to eat some lovely, fresh raspberries. Points for trying, folks.
posted by maudlin at 10:03 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


sushi and chocolate milk.

That was an outtake from a Rufus Wainwright album, IIRC.
posted by jonmc at 10:04 AM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't get why so many people think "Oh, I had X once, ew! I simply don't like it!" is a reasonable excuse.

Most things are not instantly-enjoyable. Lots of things will taste funky or weird the first few times you try them, it's usually not because you have some magical inborn aversion to an entire food group but because you're not used to it.

Appreciating (if not loving) tripe or whatever takes a little bit of work, but I think not immeditaely rejecting new foods is an important part of being an adult and of opening one's mind to other cultures and people.

Sure, there are super-tasters and people with mental disorders, and yes everyone has one or two foods that they don't like -- but I wish most people would give something uncomfortable a try rather than just rejecting it immediately.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:04 AM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


Can a person simply not like fish?

That was me until about age 22. I hated fish, seafood, anything that had spent most of its life underwater (something to do with the smell and the richness and the tendency toward oily sliminess, in my imagination at least). Then, coming down off LSD one evening, I found myself in a restaurant feeling utterly repulsed by all the meat options on the menu. Meanwhile, the fish + chips some guy was eating at the next table suddenly looked interesting, the color of it more than anything. So what the hell, I ordered some, and I ate it, and it was good, and I've had NO particular issue with seafood ever since.

Now, if only I could accomplish the same thing with eggs. I simply do NOT like eggs, and not just the green ones.
posted by philip-random at 10:05 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of course. People who don't like cilantro are crazy.
posted by fuq at 10:06 AM on July 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


My husband was incredibly picky when we first started going out. McDonalds, Kung Pao Chicken and Pizza comprised the bulk of his diet.

Interestingly enough I've got him eating Nong Shim (Korean noodle soup, like ramen,) pastichio, and iceberg lettuce (although only when I insist.) He'll eat pretty much any kind of fish (grilled, no sauce) and he hates condiments. He'll also eat Hamburger Helper and Jambalaya--things I wouldn't go near with a barge poll.

Corn, peas, carrots and maybe green beans are the only veggies he'll eat. Strawberries and orange juice the only fruit.

When we go to restaurants I have to look over the menu and tell him what he'll like.

So I wouldn't necessarily put him in the Picky Eater category per se. It's more that he's timid about new stuff, and when he finds things he likes, he's comfortable ordering those, over and over and over.

At least I can take him out in public. That's a plus!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:08 AM on July 6, 2010


I simply do NOT like eggs, and not just the green ones.

Oh man, century eggs. *drools* *watches others run off in terror*
posted by kmz at 10:08 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was a horrendously picky eater when I was a kid, but my list of approved foods had a few really odd entries: salami, cauliflower, pickled cabbage, beets, and blue cheese were all perfectly acceptable to me.

Eggs, nuts, raisins, green vegetables, and most forms of meat, on the other hand, were utter anathema, as were most fruits, and any bread other than white or rye.

Lord, would it have sucked to carry that into adulthood.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:09 AM on July 6, 2010


I have a sister that has been a notorious picky eater since early childhood, at one point during her teenage years eating only five things (french fries being one of them). I have never known her to willingly eat fruit or vegetables in any unprocessed forms.

A couple of years ago I took on partial care of an elderly aunt who we had never interacted with much as children and I can never recall any meals with this woman. She and my sister share the same food neuroses to the point that although my aunt was cagey and embarrassed about her eating issues, I had an easy adjustment shopping for her and anticipating what she would and would not eat. I haven't discussed this with my aunt or sister as both of them find their food choices very difficult to speak about but I have been quietly amazed at the similarity of their tastes. I wouldn't be surprised to find a genetic component, even this being somewhere on the asperger/austistic spectrum.
posted by readery at 10:09 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not a bad choice, but potatoes in general are eaten in far smaller quantities the further east yout travel in Asia. If you're willing to set aside vegetarians from your definition of universal, I'd nominate fried chicken. I've never been anywhere they didn't love fried chicken, and I've been a lot of places.

Accepted worldwide, yes. But that everyone loves? Fried chicken varies between locales -- mostly in the spices used in the breading. I'm just guessing here, but the more spicy the breading, I suspect the less likely the people described here as "picky eaters" would be to eat it.

I don't have them... well, ever. But I've eaten McDonald's chicken nuggets by removing as much of the breading as possible -- literally breaking them in half and removing the chicken, then discarding the exterior coating.

I won't eat their fried chicken sandwiches... or anyone else's for that matter.
posted by zarq at 10:09 AM on July 6, 2010


Then, coming down off LSD one evening, I found myself in a restaurant feeling utterly repulsed by all the meat options on the menu. ... So what the hell, I ordered some, and I ate it, and it was good, and I've had NO particular issue with seafood ever since.

So clearly, I need to attend more Phish concerts to enjoy fish.

Everyone see what I did there? I crack myself up sometimes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:10 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


All cats are now insane.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:10 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's weird, I was a really picky eater when I was a kid, and that even extended to a lot of "kid-friendly" foods (I refused to eat spaghetti, pizza and hamburgers, for example), but when I was in my teens I just sort of...snapped out of it. Now I'm a really adventurous eater. I avoid certain things (I don't eat beef because I don't trust the way it's raised and processed, and I don't eat fin-fish because I'm allergic to them), but generally speaking, I'm willing to give just about anything a chance, and some of my favorite foods are generally considered "exotic" where I live (Indian, Ethiopian, authentic Chinese).
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:10 AM on July 6, 2010


Sharon Astyk has written about how she deals with her kids pickiness: if you don't like what's for dinner you don't eat until the next meal. Hunger is a damn good motivator to expand the palette (none of her kids having to skip more than 1 or 2 meals being proof of that).
posted by symbollocks at 10:11 AM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think picky eating and Western entitlement are somehow connected, however I vacillate between this and the belief that my foodieism is directly related to the privilege I had growing up in a home full of foodies. To clarify - were I living in sub-Saharan Africa in the midst of crushing poverty and near-constant hunger, I would probably eat any damn thing called food. (I'm open to the possibility that this could just be a dumb American fantasy - perhaps starving children in Africa also have stuff they absolutely won't eat because they think it's "icky".) So, then, given options, an American child might opt to be picky about foods that don't satisfy their biological cravings for fats and sugars. Though I think there has to be an accounting for how American poverty also destroys a child's palate.
The other day I was tasked with driving two eleven year old kids (not my own) some four hours across the state. I knew every restaurant on the route and told them that they could have absolutely anything they wanted for lunch.
"Anything?" they both asked with wide eyes.
"Absolutely anything," I said, "provided that it is not fast food."
This baffled them. Because they, like myself, really wanted nothing more on this road trip than a whopper and a jamocha shake, a combo which requires visiting two separate fast-food restaurants. I had subjected us to a kind zen koan approach to road food.
So they immediately began bargaining. "What if we don't go through the drive-through? And sit inside and eat it? What if we eat it real slow?"
Eventually I asked them, "What do you love most from fast food restaurants?"
"Whoppers."
"Okay, well, that's a kind of hamburger. Let's find hamburgers."
Getting from lunch had to begin with first principles. Eventually, we had an awesome lunch at a diner staffed by the owner and her husband. We had home-made hotdogs, burgers, waffle fries and chocolate shakes. It was pretty much the best lunch ever.
But I think I'm haunted most by what one of them told me before she ordered.
"It says that all this food is home-made. That means I probably won't like any of it."
When I was a boy, making any comment about the food you were served was absolutely verboten. Even making a face could earn you a swat from pa. I don't know what happened in the past twenty years but it's seriously freaking me out and we have very little time to fix what's broken in the American diet.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:11 AM on July 6, 2010 [26 favorites]


Strawberries, and/or other fruits, are probably universally loved,

You've never met anyone who disliked strawberries? I think disliking them is actually pretty common.
posted by Justinian at 10:13 AM on July 6, 2010


Just for the record, should it be palate or palette? I understand the first to be a biological term for the back of the roof of the mouth and the second as that wooden plate-thing that painters hold while they do their thing. Seems both could be appropriate when describing the range of food a person will eat, but maybe the second is a little closer.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:14 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


At what point to simple preferences become neuroses? When they interfere with one's life? What does that mean? Veganism becomes a neurosis when one refuses to go to Black Angus for a friend's birthday?

No, I know, but really it's like pornography - hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Unfortunately that's a huge problem for diagnosable disorders. Once something is in the DSM, and depending on what category it may be listed under, a whole host of consequences follow. Insurance, treatment regime, stigma, to list a couple off the top of my head.
posted by Xoebe at 10:15 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sharon Astyk has written about how she deals with her kids pickiness: if you don't like what's for dinner you don't eat until the next meal. Hunger is a damn good motivator to expand the palette (none of her kids having to skip more than 1 or 2 meals being proof of that).

My folks tried that with me. I just skipped the meals and ate paper napkins.
posted by stifford at 10:16 AM on July 6, 2010


Disliking spicy food - now - that's not so much being picky as it is lacking constitution and pluck, in the most Teddy Rooseveltian sense of the thing.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:16 AM on July 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


If you're willing to set aside vegetarians from your definition of universal, I'd nominate fried chicken. I've never been anywhere they didn't love fried chicken, and I've been a lot of places.


UGH. i like the crispy breading. but more and more i dislike chicken at all.
posted by liketitanic at 10:19 AM on July 6, 2010


This almost sounds like the product of Big Pharma and Big Farm merging, developing products to complement each other, and then getting fast track APA and FDA approval since they're staffed by former executives.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:23 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I also didn't like olives until early adulthood. Then, a friend's dad said, "Eat three of them in a row and you'll love them for life." I tried it and he was right.

I think a lot of food dislikes go this way. It's driven by fear, an intense avoidance of sensory "weirdness", or intensity, which of course, is where most of the great flavors lie. Blue cheese, for instance. mmmmm ... blue cheese.

But not with eggs.
posted by philip-random at 10:23 AM on July 6, 2010


I know of a guy who only eats white foods. THAT is insanity. I want to know what he eats in ractice. Potatoes? Milk? Does chicken count?

But, also, I think it's totally incomprehensible when people won't eat bugs or organ/gland meat.
posted by cmoj at 10:23 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Of course. People who don't like cilantro are crazy.

Actually, there's a probable genetic marker for that. Identical twins rarely have differing opinions on cilantro.
posted by schmod at 10:23 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just for the record, should it be palate or palette?

palate
posted by JPD at 10:24 AM on July 6, 2010


I have a friend who is like this and said it's because he's a "hypertaster" but now I know that he's just crazy.
posted by XMLicious at 10:26 AM on July 6, 2010


My girlfriend might be a poster-child for this: anything she eats outside of a few select foods causes all kinds of disagreement in her stomach and intestines. A small army of (non-psych) doctors is not sure what causes it, but the effect is a fear of trying new foods. As a bit of a foodie, I'm kind of nonplussed about the situation -- most of her "whitelisted" foods are things you couldn't usually force me to eat: unseasoned chicken fingers, french fries, etc, much like the list in the article. It still burns a little every time we cook two separate meals, or go to two restaurants in one night so we can both get something we like, but them's the breaks I guess. I've always wondered if it could be psychological, but the effect seems to happen whether or not she's -aware- of what she's eating -- at one point she ate a type of cookie she liked and considered safe, but from a new store, and was violently ill for about 6 hours. She wants to broaden her horizons, but like the people in the article, is unable to do so. I do hope that this kind of work creates new understanding of what's going on here, physiologically and psychologically, because there doesn't seem to be many other options besides "just coping" anymore.
posted by Alterscape at 10:27 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have always seen picky eating as a personality flaw. I can't help it. When I meet a grown adult who will not at a vegetable and says stuff like "Indian food? I don't eat that." I just want to knock some heads together.

I understand some people just don't like certain things, but it's the people who refuse to even try them that make me roll my eyes and question their sanity.
posted by thekilgore at 10:27 AM on July 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


The attitude towards food and eating expressed in the blog that maudlin linked above is just incredibly foreign to me. From the attempt at eating an orange:

"And then I went beyond the pale. The next piece, I tried biting into it while it was in my mouth. Ew, that was nasty. Like an upsetting organic explosion. It feels like you’re hurting someone. I had to fight to not throw up. I was so right about the structural tension. The resistance, and then the bursting of each membrane is just upsetting, and so detailed as you do it."

I'm pretty sure I could eat a vaguely organic mystery object off the bathroom floor with less analysis. Reading something so seemingly simple described in such gruesome detail...I don't think I can have an opinion on this person, completely different frame of reference.
posted by ghharr at 10:28 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know of a guy who only eats white foods. THAT is insanity.

Any chance the guy is following some kind of Ayurvedic diet? I'm vaguely remembering the actual color of the food coming into the equation sometimes. Still insane, but at least there's a name for it.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:28 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was a boy, making any comment about the food you were served was absolutely verboten. Even making a face could earn you a swat from pa. I don't know what happened in the past twenty years but it's seriously freaking me out and we have very little time to fix what's broken in the American diet.

So, you can't even say you liked your dinner? Your dad would hit you if you so much as flinched at your plate? Sounds a little extreme, honestly. I wasn't raised that way, and I turned out fine, an adventurous eater and I like to cook. I was picky as a kid but grew out of it. My dad tried to force me to eat liver once and I immediately puked it up (I still hate liver, and it's not psychological). I think those kids' parents aren't feeding them very well and didn't establish enough respect for elders (they are guests and so should be polite about food choices), but I don't necessarily agree that forcing kids to eat foods they don't like is beneficial.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:30 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Then, coming down off LSD one evening

This was exactly the sort of thing Abbie Hoffman used to go around saying LSD was good for.


I also didn't like olives until early adulthood. Then, a friend's dad said, "Eat three of them in a row and you'll love them for life." I tried it and he was right.

I used to disgust my grandmother as a child- she found black olives repulsive, whereas I'd eat an entire can of them if not stopped.


Reading something so seemingly simple described in such gruesome detail...I don't think I can have an opinion on this person, completely different frame of reference.

I can't eat fried chicken because I have a very similar reaction to the sensation of teeth scraping on bone. Makes me want to throw up.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:31 AM on July 6, 2010


I couldn't believe it the first time someone told me they didn't like cucumbers. The most inoffensive of the garden vegetables! What the hell?!?
posted by Daddy-O at 10:32 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, I really don't get parents who won't make their kids eat various foods. You establish the habit of a varied and open-minded palate as a child; it's a responsibility to give your kid the most variety you can.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:32 AM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


I once knew someone who didn't eat courgettes (zucchini) because they were "posh".
posted by MuffinMan at 10:32 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


From a NY Daily News sportswriter's blog:

While eating in the Mariners press dining room the other night, I found myself in a conversation with Michael Kay [the NY Yankees TV announcer], who was sitting at the table without any dinner in front of him.

As I enjoyed a bowl of clam chowder, Michael mentioned that he had never had soup in his entire life (he thinks the slurping sound associated with it is grotesque). I found this amazing. He then told me he had never had any fish or seafood of any type, either.

As the conversation went on, he informed me of several other things he has NEVER tasted in his life: bananas, condiments of any type (though he lost a bet on his radio show and had to eat a packet of ketchup, which made him sick), jelly, any cheese not on a pizza, veal, coffee ... it went on to include more things, but I can't think of them at the moment.

posted by L'OM at 10:33 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also didn't like olives until early adulthood. Then, a friend's dad said, "Eat three of them in a row and you'll love them for life." I tried it and he was right.

Didn't work for me. I used to bartend and occasionally ate the cocktail olives if there were no other food around, even though I didn't like them much. Still don't. I can tolerate them but the brine is just too much to really enjoy it.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:33 AM on July 6, 2010


I remember eating with a friend at college last year — an adult, intelligent, accomplished. And all she had to eat was white bread, creamy peanut butter and grape jelly, a combination that appealed to me as a kid, sure, but I've far outgrown — apricot jam and crunchy peanut butter on multi-grain? Oh god yes. It's the first interaction I really had outside of childhood with picky eaters, besides my terribly obnoxious (when it comes to food) high school-aged younger sister, who will only eat fried, Mexican, Italian or fast food. She's also dangerously overweight.

But I do think it's important to acknowledge what kmz says above — it's perfectly normal and totally acceptable to have an aversion to the occasional foodstuffs, as long as you aren't harboring a childhood distaste and have actually attempted to eat said food in the years since. But a food white list? Absolutely leaning more towards OCD. In the article, it talked about how one of the people had tried to get a therapist's help, but couldn't find one that could effectively treat her condition. It's not normal, and in many cases it's not remotely healthy. While I'm sure some people are perfectly happy with the quirk (and as adults, they have a right to be), there are people out there who would love to eat other foods but just. can't. And for them, the addition to the DSM could certainly be beneficial, perhaps opening the way for better and more efficient therapy.

As long as it doesn't go too far into the realm of "people who hate onions are diseased," because it is entirely possible to dislike [onions, strawberries, etc.] while still being an open-minded eater.

And no, I don't believe in forcing kids to eat adventurously, as long as their diet is healthy and not laden with fast food. I was a picky eater until I entered high school; I hated sushi until college. I think many awesome foodies have come from a childhood background of picky eating. An adventurous palate is the best part of growing up!
posted by good day merlock at 10:34 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]



I only eat locavores.


But do you eat only local locavores or do you have them shipped in?
posted by doctor_negative at 10:35 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


creamy peanut butter

The greatest of culinary crimes!
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:36 AM on July 6, 2010


Also, I really don't get parents who won't make their kids eat various foods. You establish the habit of a varied and open-minded palate as a child; it's a responsibility to give your kid the most variety you can.

Oh, well that would be my preference, but I think the real responsibility is to the child's health. If a kid is healthy but has a non-varied diet, so what? Not my kid anyway.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:36 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't care if you're a picky eater but does anyone else know someone who eats tuna salad sandwiches but claims to otherwise "hate seafood"? What the fuck is that?
posted by windbox at 10:37 AM on July 6, 2010


I don't get why so many people think "Oh, I had X once, ew! I simply don't like it!" is a reasonable excuse.

I don't get why you think anyone needs an excuse. Why is it any of your business?

I am a picky eater I guess, in that there are many foods I don't like, but can eat if I must. However, there are other foods that go well beyond dislike: the nearest I can describe it is that my body seems to think some foods are poisonous, even though I am not technically allergic to them, trying to make myself eat one of these foods is beyond stressful, I am talking heart pounding, nausea, shaking. And it's exhausting having people think that it's a) any of their business what I eat and b) something I could and should just get over. I don't find eating weird things (or even not-weird to anyone else things) fun or adventurous, I find it stressful and deeply upsetting. If I were trapped on a desert island with nothing but, say, bananas to eat, I would likely starve to death, even the smell makes me beyond nauseated. To me, fucked up as it may be, bananas are no more food than dog shit is. And I would rather touch dog shit with my bare hands than bananas. Really. They are like kryptonite to me. Only way grosser.

That said, I eat spicier food than anyone I know, and I am very willing to try new things as long as they don't contain foods I won't eat. I also fully recognize that the way I am is not how most people are, but it's really just not that big a deal to me, nor is it anyone else's business. I have better things to worry about than whether or not my pickiness is a mental illness or not (it probably is, by some definitions, but really, who cares?). It's not hurting anyone, including me.
posted by biscotti at 10:37 AM on July 6, 2010 [25 favorites]


Can a person simply not like fish?

That's pretty much my last area of avid fussiness. I love shellfish and crustaceans, and I'm mad for sushi, but there's something about the smell, taste, and texture of cooked-through fish that I just can't handle. Canned tuna is particularly off-putting to me. I can enjoy an ahi steak or a salmon fillet as long as it's very, very rare-- but once the meat becomes opaque and flaky, it's pretty much game over for me.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:37 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


@maudlin, that blog was just so interesting! It made me realize that I was actually friends with a picky eater and I never got what he was going through. I just thought that he was being a baby. I grew up eating everything from supah spicy curry to oysters to weird pasta dishes, so I just assumed that people who were picky about lots of foods just weren't trying hard enough. Weird. I also know another person who only eats junk food and can't/won't eat anything else. I'm sure that there is a huge difference in not liking something versus being a 'picky eater', though. I'm terrified of eating or touching mayonnaise/sour cream/creamy dressings; I wonder if that'd sort of food phobia would be covered under the picky eater umbrella.
posted by 200burritos at 10:38 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't care if you're a picky eater but does anyone else know someone who eats tuna salad sandwiches but claims to otherwise "hate seafood"? What the fuck is that?

I run across that quite a bit. I am not sure but think it has to do with how tuna is served, like in tuna salads, not often by itself.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:39 AM on July 6, 2010


It's weird, I was a really picky eater when I was a kid, and that even extended to a lot of "kid-friendly" foods (I refused to eat spaghetti, pizza and hamburgers, for example), but when I was in my teens I just sort of...snapped out of it.

I truly believe this is as it should be.
When we were evolving the picky eating children didn't tuck into toxic mushrooms or toxic leaves when their parents were out hunting and gathering - thus propegating their picky genes. Once they were old enough to supposedly make adult choices, their pickiness faded. Perhaps it is a "just-so" story - perhaps not.
I truly believe. however, that biology makes children picky eaters as a protective measure and most will grow out of it if their parents left them alone and didn't make them candidates for APED (Adult picky-eating disorder).
posted by xetere at 10:40 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I once had an incredibly awkward date with a woman who told me she only ate mashed potatoes. Every day was a skipped breakfast, mashed potatoes for lunch and mashed potatoes for dinner. I suspected she might have been putting me on to amuse herself or to test my reactions (to overcome for some other imagined shortcoming, perhaps). I tried very hard to find the common ground among amused surprise, acceptance, and, because I didn't want to be a sucker, skepticism. At the time, Chicago had a restaurant that only served mashed potatoes, but she claimed to have never heard of it. I found out later through common friends that she considered the date "an absolute disaster," but there was no further explanation.

Years ago the Chicago Reader had a story about a man who was so loyal to Pepsi that he drank nothing else. No alcohol, no juice, and absolutely not any other sodas. If a restaurant didn't have Pepsi, he'd bring in his own and pay for an empty glass. His doctor was pleading with him to drink at least one glass of water a day, but he just couldn't do it.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:41 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am glad to see this posted. I am very close to someone who could have been interviewed for the article. They have a very limited go-to selection of foods -- cheese pizza, french fries, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken fingers, plain or alfredo pasta, plain chicken breast -- with some newer foods I have been able to introduce (a baby spinach salad, chicken with rice, grits).

They are deathly afraid of pickles and bacon. The smell from across a room can make them gag. They will not eat food that has touched offensive foods. They have stopped eating cheese pizzas before because there was part of an onion in the sauce.

They are also extremely worried about people noticing or talking about the issue.

I was raised with good Southern and Cajun cooking, and a family that always, always ate the same thing at the same time every weeknight. I like to cook, and I like to eat at new places and try new foods. It is a source of friction, and it makes me sad.

I've thought about the supertaster angle before, but I do not know if that is it. I think it is a deep-seated psychological issue. The person in question had a hellish childhood and I think the simplicity of the foods in question is a type of security blanket. But then again I could be wrong. If it is more widespread than we realize, and there is actual research going into it, then it might be something that can be remedied in one way or another.
posted by m0nm0n at 10:44 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just don't understand this, and never have. I think it was, in part, because I was never allowed to be a picky eater when I was a kid. I ate what was put in front of me, or I went hungry. My parents also forced me to at least try everything once. Even if it was just a small bite.

This could be why I find people who indulge their children's every whim so. fucking. annoying.
posted by brand-gnu at 10:44 AM on July 6, 2010


I couldn't believe it the first time someone told me they didn't like cucumbers. The most inoffensive of the garden vegetables! What the hell?!?

*raises hand* Oh, I'll eat cucumbers in a mixed dish that I'm offered, just to be polite, but I don't LIKE them, the same way I dislike honeydew melon and love cantaloupe. If you're going to take up space in my mouth with some crunchy texture, you damn well better deliver some flavour along with it.
posted by maudlin at 10:45 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


While I'm sure some people are perfectly happy with the quirk (and as adults, they have a right to be), there are people out there who would love to eat other foods but just. can't.

Me and eggs again. I would love to love them. Ever tried finding a breakfast special that doesn't include a least two of them? And they look so good, served up in so many permutations (scrambled, poached, hard boiled, omelettes, quiches - the list is endless) ...

But. I. Just. Can't.

That said, I love things with eggs in them with Yorkshire pudding being the sort of dividing line. I generally love them but every now and then I bit into one and ....... too. much. egg. can't. eat.
posted by philip-random at 10:46 AM on July 6, 2010


A group of us at my last job formed a sort of "lunch circle" - we'd go out to eat weekly and occasionally bring in dishes to share.

One of the group was so picky we started keeping a list on my whiteboard of all the foods he would eat. Certain things were just nonsensical to most of us - he would eat apple pie but no other kinds of pie, for example. Fish was usually right out.

The absolute weirdest thing I ever witnessed from him, though, was his love/hate relationship with New England clam chowder. He loved clam chowder. He hated clams. The cafeteria in the building offered clam chowder once a week, which he would purchase regularly. He would then proceed to eat the bowl of chowder at his desk, leaning over a garbage can, so he could scrape the clams out of the bowl and into the garbage.

He also hated warm milk (included with all other hot beverages), so I really didn't get how clam chowder appealed to him at all.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:47 AM on July 6, 2010


I don't get why so many people think "Oh, I had X once, ew! I simply don't like it!" is a reasonable excuse.

Because...no adult (and in my opinion, no kid) should be forced to eat something they don't wish to, and it's not really anyone's business as to why? I don't need an excuse, I can just say, "no thank you." And a good host will accept that without grilling someone as to their allergies, or probing into their reasons for refusing. Because that's how respectful adults treat each other.

If food aversions are crippling someone's life/making them malnourished, then I am all for them seeking therapy if they wish to.

What anyone not their therapist thinks about what they do or don't eat is completely immaterial.

I have a problem with certain vegetables and fruits, namely, their textures. Always have, even though I've tried them many times and many ways.

My son will eat almost any of them without hesitation. But I will eat meat, and he almost never will. Sometimes he'll want the same thing for dinner three nights in a row, and sometimes he won't eat anything but a bowl of grapes. And that's fine.

Nobody in our house is shamed for what they do or don't eat or forced to eat something as some sort of disciplinary exercise. People who make their kids sit at a table in front of something they don't want to eat are indeed teaching their kids a lesson, all right, but that lesson sure as hell isn't how to enjoy eating.
posted by emjaybee at 10:51 AM on July 6, 2010 [37 favorites]


If sugar is so fattening, how come so many kids are thin?
posted by gman at 10:56 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't get why you think anyone needs an excuse. Why is it any of your business?

It's not like I ask for an explanation when I dine out with picky-eaters, I'm talking about in the context of this thread. I guess I just see open-mindedness as an important quality, and the prevalence of people who just... reject new things, ideas, and foods without really giving them a chance as a seriously worrying thing.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:57 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


My kids and I were discussing the one food universally loved, something everyone will eat and enjoy. Potato chips, no?

Meh. I'll eat just about anything, and I don't care for potato chips, for the most part. Sometimes I'll eat the nice thick-cut kettle chips if they have an interesting seasoning, but I usually pass on potato chips.

But yeah, everyone likes fried chicken.
posted by electroboy at 10:57 AM on July 6, 2010


I just don't understand this, and never have. I think it was, in part, because I was never allowed to be a picky eater when I was a kid. I ate what was put in front of me, or I went hungry. My parents also forced me to at least try everything once. Even if it was just a small bite.

This could be why I find people who indulge their children's every whim so. fucking. annoying.


I don't think the people that have these issues are the result of parental indulgence. My sibling with issues is part of a larger family and the product of an age that did not indulge whims. She (and my aunt) simply can not eat foods you or I would consider enjoyable. It sucks and can be very limiting. My mother has a story about trying to force my sister to eat something besides one of her usually limited foods, not allowing any of my sister's normal choices. My mother gave up after the third day, afraid she would starve. This was around 1960 and the pediatrician could not even consider a child not suddenly "breaking through" and making more expansive food choices.
posted by readery at 10:57 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


She describes foods that don't appeal to her as if they are inedible objects. "You wouldn't put a handful of grass in your mouth and chew it up," says the 29-year-old.

I dunno, I have a big bowl of dandelions in my fridge.
posted by bradbane at 10:58 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Somewhat related, A food critic at Slate overcomes his own food phobias: The Omnivore.
posted by a.steele at 10:59 AM on July 6, 2010


Tangentially relevant to the FPA, but I can't believe that no one has brought up conditioned taste aversion in the discussion of "can't someone just not like something?" Ask a chemotherapy patient sometime - or anyone undergoing any treatment that makes them nauseous for long periods of time. It's possible to not like something "for no reason," but that's often, in all probability, shorthand for saying "there's a cause, but how the hell should I keep track of every time I eat something, or figure out why a particular food is associated withe negative affect?"

It's probably also worth noting that what a pregnant mother eats changes the composition of her amniotic fluid, which in turn shapes a prenatal baby's preferences.

Ten thousand factors go into every thing that we do. The dialectical fault line of "I just (don't) like it" versus "why are you so fussy" ignores all of them.
posted by mister-o at 10:59 AM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


I know of a guy who only eats white foods. THAT is insanity. I want to know what he eats in ractice. Potatoes? Milk? Does chicken count?

I know a woman that, as a kid, wouldn't eat ANY white foods. No milk, no vanilla ice cream, marshmallows, white cheese, white bread, mayo, etc.

As an adult, she'll eat those things if she has to - but still thinks they're kind of weird and gross.
posted by Pax at 11:00 AM on July 6, 2010


krinklyfig: "So, you can't even say you liked your dinner? Your dad would hit you if you so much as flinched at your plate?"

I should clarify. We were encouraged to compliment the chef. In fact, often my dad would ask to have the chef come out and meet us so we could personally thank her or him. But, yeah, making a face would incur punishment. (For the record, I'm not celebrating my father's methods of discipline and would never strike a child, but his was a different generation - didn't have all the answers and I don't think I do either.)
I was brought up in a strict and academic household. My dad was a military officer and a law professor. That combination... yeesh. My sister and I were taught how to sit perfectly still and eat quietly at restaurants. He would order for us and the "kid's menu" was off limits. He was pretty militant about the food thing. No getting up until excused, try one bite of everything on your plate, and absolutely no substitutions. I hated tomatoes and despite trying to hide it (I'd salt them, pepper them, mix them up with the mashed potatoes, anything to cover their nasty tomato flavor with something else) but my dad caught on - and I'd eat a bite of a tomato whenever he noticed. Today, I'll eat them if they're served to me. I don't love them and won't add them to my food, but I don't really care if I have to eat them. There's no terror in the tomato for me.
But I think it must have been nice for my parents - we really were well-behaved children in the restaurants at a very young age (4 and 5). Today my sister and I celebrate food - it is a profound and gratifying joy in our lives. We travel for food. I'm not sure how much of that is due to dad's mentality or our own cultural capital, but yeah - no faces at the table. That sticks out in my memory like a clearly rung bell.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:02 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, I really don't get parents who won't make their kids eat various foods

Tell me how you have made your children eat foods they didn't want to eat. Please, I want to know! It would really help us out around dinnertime.
posted by pinky at 11:02 AM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I was reaaaaally picky up until I was about 16 or 17. My family didn't cook much, so I wasn't exposed to much variety. I pretty much lived on ramen, pastaroni, mac and cheese, fast food chicken strips, and McDonald's double cheeseburgers.

But then my mom got sick and I started cooking for her so she'd eat something other than cereal every night and by the time I was 18 I started cooking school. I decided on the first day to try eating anything and everything I could. That included sheep testicles, chicken and beef hearts, sweetbreads, nine different varieties of caviar, steak tartare, chicken feet, pickled eggs....and on and on. I do still have a fondness for shitty pre-packaged carbs that will probably never go away, but I can't imagine ONLY eating that stuff.

My only real food issue that still lingers is fish and seafood, but not for lack of trying. I've tried at least 30 different varieties of fish and most types of shellfish and it's still a no go. It's probably more of an allergy or intolerance though since I've had a few incidences of throwing up and even passing out after eating fish. And I've succumbed to cravings for greasy ass fish and chips when drunk, even though I know the consequences.

God, I love food.
posted by evilbeck at 11:03 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, my parents did the "eat it or you will go hungry" routine. I was okay with going hungry. Then they upped it to "you will stay at the table until you eat it." I was okay with falling asleep at the table. Then they went for "eat it or get hit."

They finally got the point when I puked all over the table after having a bite of the egg yolk they wanted me to have. I had eaten other stuff, and had lots of water to dilute what to me was the REEKING SULFUR POISON that eggs smell like, so it was quite messy. I didn't feel bad about that. It wasn't like I hadn't said, "I think I am going to throw up" a whole bunch beforehand.

I continue try things I dislike intensely, such as mushrooms, once a year, to see if my tastes have changed (they haven't), but I still cannot get that near to eggs. Every time someone hassles me about not eating eggs, I tell them in detail about my sloppy barfing at the table, until they say "Stop, you're grossing me out." And I'll lean forward and whisper, "That's how I feel about eggs."

People are so damn pushy about their food.
posted by adipocere at 11:04 AM on July 6, 2010 [20 favorites]


These days, I love food, but I was a horribly picky eater as a kid. I would be miserable, I think, if I hadn't grown out of it—PB&J and Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup is a dismal diet. I genuinely feel bad for people who haven't broken out of their "food shell," so to speak, and I continually make efforts to help the people around me who aren't adventurous. Is this annoying? Perhaps, but having been extremely picky, I have seen both sides of the fence and am usually pretty decent at pointing out portions of the "food spectrum" which are less objectionable to the uninitiated. Hate beans? Try black-eyed peas. Hate spicy food? Don't try the sour, watery sauces and unmitigated "hotness" of fast-food—try something subtly and interestingly "hot" (usually from Asia).

To this day, however, I know people who won't eat any green vegetable and one woman who eats, essentially, french fries and ranch. (I'm not sure how she's alive.) These are the people who wrinkle their nose when I tell them that I'm eating potato-leek soup for lunch, or that I had a very good meal at a Spanish restaurant.
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:05 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm so very grateful to be able to eat just about anything.

Except eggplant. Fuck that nasty ass mutated monstrosity from hell.
posted by new brand day at 11:05 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Slight tangent: I had the chance to catch some cable TV this weekend and was thoroughly entertained by the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. I wouldn't touch 95% of what he wolfs down, even if I weren't a vegetarian, but it sure is fun to watch. It doesn't hurt that he comes across as a genuinely nice guy.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:06 AM on July 6, 2010


I like to think about food preferences (the foods one prefers not to eat) the way I do about vices: You can only have a few, so choose wisely.
posted by danny the boy at 11:07 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


emjaybee: Nobody in our house is shamed for what they do or don't eat or forced to eat something as some sort of disciplinary exercise. People who make their kids sit at a table in front of something they don't want to eat are indeed teaching their kids a lesson, all right, but that lesson sure as hell isn't how to enjoy eating.

See, and this is exactly the opposite of what I experienced as a child and I think it's interesting and probably a much healthier approach to eating. However, I knew a young man who was brought up like this and we traveled to Peru together and he literally nearly starved. When we ran out of peanut butter and crackers on the second week, he panicked. He couldn't even eat the rice because it was cooked with the catfish and he wouldn't eat fish. He had to exist on bananas and tea for days. So, for me, I'm struggling with the tension between picky eating as a product of enlightened personal choice and safety vs. a product of privilege and a lack of structure. I don't know that I'd eat half the stuff I do today if my dad hadn't drilled into my head that "not liking something" is an inappropriate response to something perfectly edible.
However, I completely respect your perspective.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:09 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't get why you think anyone needs an excuse. Why is it any of your business?

It's not like I ask for an explanation when I dine out with picky-eaters, I'm talking about in the context of this thread. I guess I just see open-mindedness as an important quality, and the prevalence of people who just... reject new things, ideas, and foods without really giving them a chance as a seriously worrying thing.


I don't really think of my food preferences as "closed" mindedness. I mean, I don't really care if other people eat something I do not. If you like it, enjoy.
posted by stifford at 11:09 AM on July 6, 2010


philip-random, I'm with you on the eggs. Its the smell. And, often, the texture. Bleah.

My husband's family has a thing about lettuce. His mom can detect a piece of lettuce the size of a dime in a loaded hamburger and extract it after taking a bite. I've seen her do it many times. My husband and both his sisters can also do this. I honestly think its genetic, since, while he's not exactly adventurous about food, I wouldn't call him a "picky eater" by any stretch of the imagination.

I was never allowed to be a picky eater when I was a kid. I ate what was put in front of me, or I went hungry. My parents also forced me to at least try everything once. Even if it was just a small bite.

We've tried this approach (my son will be 4 in about a week). It just turns mealtimes into an unpleasant battleground. A better approach (for us) is to plan meals in such a way that he likes at least one food that's offered. Last night, for instance, we had enchiladas and corn on the cob. He loves the corn, was wary of the enchiladas. Which is fine. But eating is enough of an autonomy issue for kids without making every meal dreadful....
posted by anastasiav at 11:11 AM on July 6, 2010


But their families didn't seem to be terribly adventurous eaters either, so I can see how a somewhat picky kid with some possible OCD tendencies could more easily get to the point where they could eat only 2-3 foods if the typical family meals were only about 10-15 foods.

I do think there's some modeling of behavior here. I didn't live in a family where you were, say, forced to clear your plate, but you were treated like you were missing out on a great culinary experience if you didn't try the variety of foods offered to you (I remember my parents reacting this way when I went through a very brief phase where I didn't like onions; it didn't last long, because they were clearly enjoying their onion rings at the local hamburger joint so much that I knew they had to be delicious). My parents also refused to cook separate meals for us. If we wanted something else, we would have to make it ourselves. And who wants to do that?

That wasn't the case for my one cousin, whose Mom would give her a hamburger roll with creamy--not crunchy--peanut butter on it for every meal, in addition to making real food for everyone else. Likewise, some picky friends of mine, whose parents are Sicilian and whose dad fishes and still brings home fresh seafood. When they were kids, their mom made them chicken fingers every single night, while the rest of their family ate homemade fried crabs. That sort of thing just wouldn't have flown in my family.

My husband was a picky eater growing up--many of the foods he'd eat were superbland. He's much more adventurous now, but also found out that he has a host of severe food allergies--ones that don't cause asphyxiation, but stomach distress. I can't help but wonder if that has something to do with it. The one remnant of his picky eating is that he is extremely fussy about things like scales in fish or fat in meat. When he finishes a piece of meat, his plate is usually covered in little slivers of fat that he's excised painstakingly as a surgeon. It always confused me, until I watched his mother do the same thing (accompanied by disgusted faces and gagging noises at the food the rest of us were eating). That's got to influence one's developing palate, I'm sure.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:11 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't care if you're a picky eater but does anyone else know someone who eats tuna salad sandwiches but claims to otherwise "hate seafood"?

Ha, I'm the opposite! I love all seafood except for canned tuna (grilled tuna steak is fine, or at least it was before I developed an allergy to fin-fish).

He would then proceed to eat the bowl of chowder at his desk, leaning over a garbage can, so he could scrape the clams out of the bowl and into the garbage.

I was sort of like this as a kid. I used to order clam chowder, dump a bunch of oyster crackers into it, and then fish out the creamy broth-covered crackers along with any celery and potato chunks, leaving the clams at the bottom. OK, now I want chowder.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:12 AM on July 6, 2010


I know a guy who eats yellow foods and white foods. He drinks milk and ensure and eats french fries, cheetos, white bread (one particular kind), maybe a little cheese, and that's about it. His wfe was able to name every food or food-like substance in the world that he will consume.

That's just crazy talk, IMHO. It's one thing not to like some stuff (I don't like mushrooms. Never have. I wish I did, because the variety is incredible, but there's just something about them that I can't stand), but I think when you have to list things you'll eat rather than things you won't that you have gone over the edge (OTOH, I am one of the least picky easters known to mankind, so I accept I might be biased. Apart from the already mentioned mushrooms, I don't like raw tomatoes or pickles and that's about it. I'll eat stinky tofu and thousand year egg scrambled with liver and onions and I don't mean for a bet either). I'm not sure if my eating habits came from a family with broad tastes in food or if it's just me, but I'm pretty happy about it. I was a little pickier when I was a kid, but I got away with it. When you eat carrots, spinach, asparagus, lima beans, brussel sprouts and cucumber without complaint then your parents tend to believe you when you say you don't like broccoli (which, incidently, I now like).

But I think that insisting that kids eat what's in front of them is not the right way to go. I agree that kids should be trained to have broad tastes, but if they really don't like something then you are turning the eating of food into a punishment and I don't see why that will lead to better eating habits.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:13 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's a self-penned account of severe "picky eating" from someone with diagnosed severe OCD
posted by griphus at 11:15 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm aware of someone who brings their own bottle of ranch salad dressing to a restaurant, because the ranch dressing the restaurant serves is inferior.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:23 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


For the anti-egg people, I used to share your distaste growing up with only cast-iron pans to make crunchy omelets and dried-up scrambled eggs.

Two things brought me around to loving straight eggs: Poached and Tapatio
posted by wcfields at 11:24 AM on July 6, 2010


Tell me how you have made your children eat foods they didn't want to eat.
Well, they had to try everything I made and I'm a cheerful, dedicated, pretty good cook of all kinds of food. If they didn't like it after trying it, okay, they could have what they wanted - within reason, here, I'm not suddenly making coq au vin or allowing halloween candy in lieu of a meal - but I would make them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a cheese omelette or plain spaghetti, whatever. Generally if I figured they wouldn't like it - most kids are just not going to go for really hot stuff or extremely complex flavors - I'd have something kid friendly quietly in reserve. As long, that is, as they tried what the adults were eating without a giant, undue fuss. Giant, undue fuss is key here: my younger brother was a picky eater as a kid and my mother fretted and freaked out and tried all kinds of things that all ended up as drama at the dinner table which is anathema to me as an adult. And I always figured it's fine to dislike some foods, what the hell? I hate lima beans, boiled peanuts and milk; my son hates tomatoes; my daughter is not into really spicy. That's okay.

Anyway, it worked. For your birthday at our house you're allowed to request anything you want for dinner and at one point I was making rock cornish game hens for a party of five year olds and taking a seven year old out for serious sushi. My son did go through a picky phase as a preschooler but it seemed to focus more around shape than anything: oddly enough, he really only wanted to eat things that were basically shaped like a stick, like chicken fingers or french fries or hot dogs. Once I figured that out and started cutting his food into a stick shape, he'd eat anything. Both my kids are grown up now and happy omnivores with foodie tendencies; my 18 year old son recently told me pityingly that his girlfriend thought Olive Garden was real food.

So that worked for us but on the other hand we don't seem to have any of these kinds of really serious food issues in the family and given what I'm reading here, it almost does sound like there's some kind of allergy / genetic / physical component. I can't imagine not wanting and being able to try pretty much anything on any menu and it would seem terrible and limiting to me not to be able to do just that.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:25 AM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


When will we stop adding things to the DSM and just admit there is no "normal." People are weird. And that's awesome.
posted by toekneebullard at 11:25 AM on July 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Amber Scott, of Enon, Ohio, has eaten only about 10 different foods since she was 3 years old.

Wow. By the time my kids were three years old, they'd eaten more foods than I'd eaten when I hit high school, including sushi and Thai foods of various types. The only things they haven't eaten yet at four years old are Indian foods (too spicy for them) and veal (hopefully they'll never eat veal.)

I cannot imagine a life without the pleasure of trying new foods. Gah.
posted by davejay at 11:25 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know why I care? Because you are my friend. You are my partner. You are my coworker. You are even my parents.

And I like to cook for you. I also like to go out to eat with you.

But now I can't make my (best) lasagna because someone doesn't like onions or spice. We can't go out for Ethiopian because it's unfamiliar or you need your meat cooked beyond recognition.

I care about you. I want to share my world with you.

But there's a wall.

A wall I know can be broken down because I myself was once you. The same wall I've seen every close friend and girlfriend ascend through time, willingness, and patience.

So I suggest. I offer a bite from my plate. I ask for permission to make the smallest change.

I accept it's not for everyone. I understand there's sometimes more to it than simple distaste or genetic factors at play.

But I care because I want to share my world with you.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 11:27 AM on July 6, 2010 [59 favorites]


Malice: "I'm curious. What would happen if you either starved said person and their only options were the food they claim they can't eat, or just, you know, forced them to eat it?"

Most likely an entirely different diagnosis.

My son is like this. He eats maybe twelve different things. The mac n cheese cannot be home made. The yogurt must be THIS flavor and THIS brand.

Breaded chicken, white bread, and bananas (maybe). Doesn't like milk, peanut butter, chocolate, bacon, etc. Fish sticks too.

I don't want to shove stuff in his mouth - I've talked to too many people who have trouble with certain foods because they lost a showdown with some adult as a child. At the same time, I get damned tired of looking for restaurants that have chicken tenders and/or something he'll eat today.
posted by lysdexic at 11:29 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, I thought I was the only one who loved sushi but didn't like cooked fish. I have started (in the past 3 years or so) to really like simply broiled tilapia and mahi mahi though.

I guess that's what I don't get about the "I hated this as a kid so I'll never try it" crowd. I make it a point to try things I things I don't like every now and then to see if I still feel the same way. (Still can't stand Brussels sprouts or asparagus though.)
posted by JoanArkham at 11:35 AM on July 6, 2010


Mmm, delicious food. I think there is probably just a shortlist of things I don't like to eat, but because of what they are, people look at me funny.

white or cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar except in small amounts and warm
mayonnaise or mayo
salad dressing of any type (not only do I not like the dressing, I hate the way it makes the leaves all slimy and nasty)
hard-boiled eggs
mustard
onions that have texture, crunch, or chew left in them
the pimiento stuff inside some green olives
beef liver (but chicken livers and gizzards and hearts are awesome!)
cooked bell peppers (although I love fire-roasted red peppers)
jalapenos
sour cream
cold cottage cheese
tapioca pudding/pearls

I know the onion and pepper hate is common, but most of the other things I don't like are foods people tend to use to cover up foods they do like. I'm not a fan of fish eggs/roe/caviar because I don't like the way the bits burst in your mouth, but I love oranges which are kind of the same. I didn't like strawberries for awhile because they were just kinda gross but I have had some really delicious strawberries and now I mostly like them. I cannot fathom people who say they hate spinach, broccoli, or green beans. I would rather have them than carrots any day.
posted by Night_owl at 11:38 AM on July 6, 2010


What you eat actually alters your gene expression. For example, 'virgin olive oil and a mediterranean diet fight heart disease by changing how our genes function'.

There is a diet that's been discussed on the blue a few times, usually scornfully, called Caloric Restriction, or CR for short. It profoundly affects gene expression in a very wide gene array. Essentially, it triggers the gene profile adaptations used by starving organisms to preserve biological function during times of famine - and a side effect of it is a greatly extended lifespan (in every animal so far studied) as well as healthspan. It is for obvious reasons a very tough diet to follow (I've been doing this for about 12 years).

One of the very interesting effects of being on CR, is that your food preferences are strongly affected, and that in turn evolves over time. For example, the first phase is that you will eat just about anything and find it very tasty. Now, that may seem obvious, but it is not - see examples given above of people saying "well, so I didn't have dinner" or "I'd rather starve to death than eat X". You see, anyone can go without food for a few days and experience only a certain kind of hunger. But if you habitually keep your calories low, after a few months, your food acceptance grows dramatically. So, whereas before, you could at any moment go, say, a week without food rather than eat your hated food item, after a few months on CR, you will no longer hate a given food. There is another effect, that's been described by researchers - your sense of taste and smell grow a great deal more acute, and your positive response to food taste also grows, which is a natural reaction for an animal that has a great need to find food, and eat it once found. So, that apple that seems so "meh" to you? On CR, it tastes like heaven. And that egg you always hated? Why, it's delicious! Again - this effect doesn't happen for a normally fed human who suddenly goes on a voluntary or involuntary fast - it only applies once you've been on CR for a few months, and your gene expression has profoundly shifted as has your taste and neural reactions.

Once you've been on CR for a couple of years, there's another evolution that happens. Since being on CR means you must cut down on calories, yet get all your nutrients, it means you cannot afford to consume empty calories. So, you start picking foods low in sugar (sugar: empty calories), and very nutrient dense but calorie poor. You end up eating veggies and fruit and pretty much eliminating processed food. When you eat like this for a couple of years, your taste changes dramatically - now when you occasionally eat what "normal" people do, you find it entirely too sweet, too salty, too oily etc. (especially processed food).

So your taste on CR changes to: you'll eat anything... as long as it's nutrient dense, not too sweet, too salty or too oily. Bonus: many food allergies tend to vanish - this is a physiological reaction of how your body adapts to low calories; the more you cut your calories, the more allergies diminish. I'm mildly allergic to walnuts (tongue becomes slightly itchy and sore) - when I'm on strict CR, this allergy vanishes... when I add some calories (less strict CR), the allergy returns - it's like a gauge of the degree to which I'm CR'd!

The widespread growth of food allergies and food pickiness seems more of a feature of advanced societies with a lot of food access.
posted by VikingSword at 11:42 AM on July 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


Tell me how you have made your children eat foods they didn't want to eat. Please, I want to know! It would really help us out around dinnertime.

The short answer, for us, is this: give them a say in what the meal will be (letting them choose between things that are healthy, not just choosing arbitrarily), give them small portions, and insist that all foods get one bite taken -- but only one bite is required.

So, a typical meal might be a bowl of assorted fruits to be shared, and rice and beans (because my son wanted rice and my daughter wanted beans.) My son doesn't want to eat the beans, so we put a small portion on his plate and say "take one bite, and if you still don't want it, you don't have to eat it." We do the same with my daughter and the rice. They have to take the fruit as they eat it, no hoarding all of it on their plate.

Will they always clean their plate? No, but usually they do, because the portion sizes are small. Do we care if they don't clean their plate? No, genuinely not -- a missed meal won't hurt them, and if they're truly that hungry they'll eat it even if they don't like it. And do we stress out if they don't eat the things or the amount we feel they should? Nah, not even a little. It's not a battle -- it's us providing good, real food, of which they'll eat some or all or almost none. We provide the fundamentals, and they eat the fundamentals they feel they need.

The result: four year olds who are not picky eaters, and who are incredibly healthy and often make good choices. For instance, at a recent event, when the buffet table opened my son loaded up on bread and fruit, ignoring all the cupcakes and cookies.

Then again, you still have to monitor them. At another recent event, I told them I trusted them to eat some "real" food along with some "fake" food. After half an hour of stuffing themselves with "fake" food only, I took them aside, told them I was disappointed in their choices, and so now they had to eat only "real" food. Which they did, until the end of the party, when another parent gave 'em cupcakes. :P
posted by davejay at 11:42 AM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


toekneebullard: “When will we stop adding things to the DSM and just admit there is no "normal." People are weird. And that's awesome.”

Well, that's a little silly, isn't it? You're saying a person who's paranoid schizophrenic is as "normal" as anybody else, and that this condition should be celebrated?
posted by koeselitz at 11:46 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


*Le sigh*

Nothing is normal anymore, it's just what matter of dysfunction you have.

I'm a relatively picky eater. Things like pickles or tomato juice will make me gag. Also can't stand "sweet and savory" flavors in the same bite. Apple sauce on pork chops sounds like the most vile thing ever.

I'll eat the same things over and over and don't see any particular reason to go seeking out new taste flavors and sensations just for the sake of doing so, given there's a decent chance I'll find it repulsive. And yeah. a lot of it has to do with textures and mouth feel.

I've also dropped ~35 pounds over the last couple of years, I'm in better shape than when I was competing in full-contact TKD in college 20 years ago, and I know several foodies (several of whom probably feel bad for me in my benighted culinary ghetto) whom I can outrun, outbike, and probably hand a solid beatdown to.

I eat a reasonably healthy diet, I just don't find food novelty of value in and of itself.

But adding "picky eater" to the DSM? The pathologizing of human behavior marches forward.
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
-Krishnamurti
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:46 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyway, it worked. For your birthday at our house you're allowed to request anything you want for dinner and at one point I was making rock cornish game hens for a party of five year olds and taking a seven year old out for serious sushi.

mygothlaundry, that is awesome.
posted by pinky at 11:48 AM on July 6, 2010


I make it a point to try things I things I don't like every now and then to see if I still feel the same way.

This policy led to my adulthood love of salt and vinegar chips. I thought they were utterly vile as a child.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:49 AM on July 6, 2010


The issue described in the article needs a better name than "picky eater" or "finicky eater." Those terms imply that the problem is due to snobbery or whim, rather than due to what may be an involuntary psycho-physiological reaction. This is not a matter of trivial choices.

It's one thing to consciously choose not to eat things or try things. It's another to have a psychological disorder walling off such choices from you altogether. Those of your who can't seem to fathom this kind of disorder, imagine: In order to try a new food, you have to chew on aluminum foil for ten minutes first. How excited about new foods are you now? How would you feel if other people, who haven't had to chew foil, told you that it can't be that bad and you should just get over it?


When will we stop adding things to the DSM and just admit there is no "normal." People are weird. And that's awesome.

Nothing wrong with weird. But weird is like a spice. If you dump a whole jar of weird in someone's life, ability to enjoy life is reduced. The things that tip the jar go in the DSM.
posted by zennie at 11:51 AM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


From the New York Times a couple of years back: 6 Food Mistakes Parents Make. Some of it common sense, some a little less obvious, cites a vareity od research studies on childhood eating habits.
posted by tallus at 11:51 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]



Anyone ever able to make the jump from abhorring liver to at least learning to tolerate it?
posted by notreally at 11:51 AM on July 6, 2010


I'm so very grateful to be able to eat just about anything.

Except eggplant. Fuck that nasty ass mutated monstrosity from hell.


Ha! I'm the same way. My one dislike is eggplant (except highly processed like in baba ghanoush etc.). OK, I also hate potatoes (except small quantities of tiny young spring pink ones in certain dishes). BUT, that's when I'm eating ad lib - when I'm on strict CR, eggplant doesn't faze me. As soon as I'm off CR, I'm back to hating on eggplant.
posted by VikingSword at 11:52 AM on July 6, 2010


I was at a wedding a few years ago where one woman at my table was cross-examining her child about every mouthful of food he was taking. "What do you think about the texture?", "How about the taste?", "You don't usually eat carrots, are you sure you want to try those carrots?" on and on, ad nauseum (if you'll pardon the pun).

I really get the feeling the kid would have just got on with his meal and eaten his fill if his mother hadn't gone on at him like that. It struck me that she was projecting her own food phobias onto him, and training him to be a picky eater. I count doing something like that as a form of child abuse. I felt so sorry for that poor kid.
posted by idiomatika at 11:54 AM on July 6, 2010


Wow, I never new that some kids get to tell their parents what they want for dinner.
posted by nestor_makhno at 11:54 AM on July 6, 2010


and insist that all foods get one bite taken -- but only one bite is required.
posted by davejay


Now, I'm asking this from the perspective of a "picky-eater", that has already won all my vs. parental showdowns at dinner time, lol.

Once the one bite has been eaten, do they have to try that particular food again?
Or is it "off the list" for good?

Because...if getting down the one bite meant never having to try it again (if I so wished), I could probably convince myself I'm eating a lump of clay or something and manage to get it down (or worst case scenario barf it back up...in which case I still consider my commitment to the deal as met).

I'm not sure if all parents have experienced the level of stubbornness some kids (or I) are able to maintain. ; )
posted by stifford at 11:55 AM on July 6, 2010


This made me want to meet the lady in the article. Because how nice it would be to go out to eat with someone even pickier than I am! I love reading the comments here, because suddenly I don't feel so crazy. As for whether it belongs in the DSM - I don't know. But I do think there are wide varying ranges between "I can't be bothered to try it" and "If I eat this I will vomit involuntarily." I do think some people just flat out decide all green food is bad, but there are also those who feel they never got a fair chance to decide if a food was bad or not. Maybe their relationship with the food started off badly and never recovered.

I was a picky eater as a child, and my (fairly strict) parents demanded we stay at the table until everything on our plate was eaten. I can't even count the nights I was still there at bedtime, alone, but with my stepdad keeping an eye on me to make sure I didn't do anything like hide the food in a napkin in my pocket, or feed anything to the dogs. Some nights I could simply wash every bite down with a gulp of water to hide the taste, but this always left me uncomfortably full of water and some foods I could taste no matter how much I flooded my mouth. My brother was even more picky, but better at doing what he was told. The thing is, it made dinner miserable. I know, they were trying to retrain me to eat things I didn't like. But their (and my) stubbornness simply cemented my loathing of a lot of the foods involved. Because not only did I not like them, I now have many memories of eating them against my will, of forcing them down while retching.

The foods? Broccoli is a huge one for me. It tastes incredibly strong, it's horrid. When I had pet rats, some years back, I used to feed it to them for treats, and had to stop when I realized it made their entire cage reek of broccoli for days afterwards. Almost all veggies (snap peas taste like dirt, no matter how clean they are - but carrots I love), and any seafood.

Whether the retching was a product of my youthful dramatic flair or not doesn't really matter now. Whether I trained myself to be even more picky or my parents were to blame - also irrelevant. There are so many things I cannot eat. I simply cannot. I have tried, I have done the whole psyching myself up for it, and going to a calm happy place, and relaxing, and pretending fish was chicken, and taking people up on their challenges, such as "Oh, you don't like bass? Well you haven't tried it the way I make it! Trust me, this will change your mind!" The thing is, I desperately want to like fish. I want to like vegetables. I know they are good for me, I want to be healthy, I want to eat sushi with my husband, who loves it, and I want to go to a restaurant and not be leery of each new dish.

My brother and I both have been going through this relearning to eat thing together, and I have actually made strides. I had sushi about a year ago, and while it wasn't completely enjoyable, I managed to eat quite a lot of it with an open mind, and taste it without expectations. My brother is now eating sushi often, and other fish, like grilled tuna and such, and we have these little cheer sessions for each other when something new is tried and - even better - enjoyed. He thinks we just need to create enough good memories around eating these foods that the bad ones fade away. I don't know. Some days it just sounds exhausting to try something new. It sounds like a monumental effort, and some days I just don't have it in me. But I keep doing it, because I hate being picky. I hate it more than the smell of fish makes me gag. I can't tell you how many times I have attempted to like certain vegetables.

As far as the open/closed mind thing goes - it has absolutely nothing to do with that for me. It's an almost involuntary reaction to things. Putting certain seafood in my mouth would be akin to one of you non picky people eating feces. Seriously. It's that strong for me. It takes a huge amount of psychological preparation to eat new foods without my mind getting in the way. But I have a whole list of things I want to learn to like, or at least try to like.
posted by routergirl at 11:56 AM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I know someone like this, too - I think we all do. My friend will eat: hamburgers, hotdogs, pancakes, beer. And that is it. I feel sorry for him - he's missing out on so much!
posted by LN at 11:56 AM on July 6, 2010


Can a person simply not like fish?

Judging by a few of my MeMails, yes. But you can't blame them. According to the DSM, they're disordered.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:56 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


But adding "picky eater" to the DSM? The pathologizing of human behavior marches forward.

By way of contrast, nev's comment above stands out for me as particularly thoughtful:
The line between a disorder and a personality quirk is the point at which the issue negatively affects your quality of life (or that of people who are close to you). If you cope by mostly eating at home that's totally cool. If you're lying to people around you or obsessively fearing for your children's health, that's probably a disorder.

posted by zarq at 11:57 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


philip-random, I by no means could be described as a picky eater, but I used to have your egg thing. I could usually eat one egg but my stomach would turn at the thought of the other one.

What changed me was having my own chickens. Even the whites are more flavorful. Commercial eggs are tasteless to me, and I think that's why I couldn't eat the whites -- they just tasted like nothing. Every now and then I do have a weird egg moment again, but it's very, very rare now. And I eat more eggs than I would ever have guessed. Find you some yard eggs!
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:57 AM on July 6, 2010


My dog is a picky eater sometimes. I know she won't let herself starve to death though.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 11:58 AM on July 6, 2010


Oh, and I meant to add this - as far as the kid thing goes - I have always simply made dinner, served my three sons, and let them decide what on their plate they eat. I always served a vegetable with their dinner, and they out-ate my lifetime broccoli intake in their first five years. My youngest goes nuts trying new weird foods - the weirder the better, and my older two are about the same. Go figure.
posted by routergirl at 11:59 AM on July 6, 2010


I have one who eats all kinds of stuff, routergirl, and another one who only eats bread, meat, and oranges (I exaggerate, but he is more restricted). The kids are sports about trying things though, and I think in future they'll both enjoy a variety of foods.
posted by Mister_A at 12:01 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


On further reflection, we'd likely be mean parents. You eat what's on your plate or you go hungry. It's a privalage to be able to stick your nose up at a plate of food sitting in front of you.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 12:01 PM on July 6, 2010


Also, I really don't get parents who won't make their kids eat various foods.

Children have a fundamentally different set of taste buds. They experience different foods in different ways to adults. Forcing children to eat food that is delicious or interesting to an adult but tastes like crap to a child is not doing the child any favours in the short term or long term.

The people who are advocating staving and beating children to make them eat food that tastes bad to them... you're fucked in the head. All of you.
posted by rodgerd at 12:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


I have really never been a picky eater, something about which my mother probably did regular backflips when I was a kid; however, I think a large part of that is because my mother cooked well. She was kind of ahead of her time nutritionally and culinarily -- in the 1970's, she was already cooking the way people in the 1990's were starting to recommend cooking (only a little red meat, a light hand with the sauces, REALLY light on the salt, lightly steaming vegetables until crisp-tender rather than boiling the hell out of them). My only real quirk as a kid was eschewing almost all sauces or dressings -- I liked my salads plain, my spaghetti with only a little sauce, and my cereal dry. I often still eat salads without dressing -- I did, and do, enjoy the taste of raw vegetables unadorned.

I did have a bit of a prejudice against grapefruit, though -- the one time I'd tried it as a kid, the person who served it to me put far too little sugar on for my taste, so it was really bitter. But what cured me of that was a visit to my friend in Ireland when I was 20; I was staying with her and her mother, and one morning her mother made me a full-on Irish breakfast, complete with a half a slice of grapefruit. As politely as I could, I thanked her for everything, but said that I didn't quite care for grapefruit. "You're sure about that?" she said. "I think it's awfully refreshing." Again, I very graciously declined.

And then my friend's mother fixed me with the Mom Stare to end all Mom Stares. "Will you try it, at least?" she asked.

"Yes, ma'am," I said, meekly.

Turns out I like grapefruit.

I'm wondering if we should set her up with a license to help people overcome food prejudices now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Malice: I'm curious. What would happen if you either starved said person and their only options were the food they claim they can't eat, or just, you know, forced them to eat it?



Dammit - can't find the book on my shelf.
It was a lovely, gritty memoir by an urban explorer - a guy who endlessly traveled the USA on a shoestring budget, supporting himself with random jobs, and who obviously couldn't remotely afford to be a picky eater.

However, he always packed one can of chopped liver in his duffel bag.
Because, he claimed, no matter how desperately hungry he became, he knew he'd never, ever find himself with absolutely nothing to eat!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


adipocere: “People are so damn pushy about their food.”

Don't worry – you'll never get hassled by me. I gave up a long time ago. Roommate A despises every form of Italian food, and hates leafy green things, tomatoes, and anything that isn't firm in texture. Roommate B (A's girlfriend) likes 'Italian' food, but also despises tomatoes, hates barbecue sauce, most leafy green things, meat that is browned at all, and dairy products. Roommate C thinks that all cheese is vile and foul, except in certain circumstances in which it's melted (pizza, for example) and regularly starts to gag when she sees me eating some. Roommate D will not eat anything but fast food - seriously.

So, yeah – honestly, I won't bother you. I love cooking – it means a hell of a lot to me: friendship, community, enjoyable time spent together... love, really. I love cooking for people, and I love cooking with people. But I gave up a long time ago; I tried charting it in my mind, carefully keeping track of who likes what and who hates what, and what will satisfy the most people. But I always failed, and there were always the uncomfortable guilty looks from people who hated the food but felt bad for hating it, out of embarrassment. That's not really their fault, but there it is. It's so fucking impossible to eat together that I've completely given up.

No, you don't have to worry about me being "pushy" about food, or "imposing" my food criteria on you, or cooking for you, or sharing a meal with you, or going out to eat with you (which is a whole added hassle which I won't even get into) or anything like that. I will be going out to eat alone, and cooking when nobody else is around, and dining downstairs in my room, thanks. I know it would be either (a) disgusting to you or (b) embarrassing for you, should you have to refuse it, if I cooked in front of you; so I've learned not to do it.

People are so damn picky about their food.
posted by koeselitz at 12:04 PM on July 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


I don't think the "there are starving kids in China"/clean plate club way of thinking is really all that healthy, either.
posted by Mister_A at 12:05 PM on July 6, 2010


My son is like this. He eats maybe twelve different things. The mac n cheese cannot be home made.

Re: this and those who say their kids only like hamburgers from McD etc. - what I wonder is how did they acquire those tastes in the first place? I mean, how does a 3 or 4 year old learn to like BK fare? What if you never, ever, fed your kid fast food? Growing up, we did go to restaurants, but never fast food. I had my first fast food experience at 15, with friends. Not judging anyone - sometimes parents find themselves stressed or fast food is the only immediately available food choice - however, it's still the case that a kid can't develop an "only mac from McD" obsession, unless first exposed to McD.
posted by VikingSword at 12:06 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


And after more than 100 comments, some people still haven't grasped the difference between "I am a picky eater because I don't like X, Y, Z", and "I am potentially a disordered eater because I only eat A, B, and C."
posted by muddgirl at 12:10 PM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


Re: this and those who say their kids only like hamburgers from McD etc. - what I wonder is how did they acquire those tastes in the first place? I mean, how does a 3 or 4 year old learn to like BK fare? What if you never, ever, fed your kid fast food?

As well as prevent other parents from feeding them fast food as well? Not so easy. Especially if a perception is raised that by telling your child they can't eat fast food, you are passing judgement on how another parent is raising their own children. How far are you, as a parent willing to go in order to keep a vile McNugget from passing your child's lips? Will you lie to your friends and tell them your kid has an allergy? Keep your kid from attending their best friend's birthday party at McDonalds? What if you drop your kid off to their best friend's house to play, and her mom buys the family MickeyD's for lunch?

There are a whole hose of ways a child can come into contact with fast food -- especially since fast food is by design supposed to be a quick alternative to cooking, for busy people.
posted by zarq at 12:16 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


..."host" of ways...

Not "hose" of ways.

:P
posted by zarq at 12:17 PM on July 6, 2010


(Of course, the problem probably stems from the atrocious use of short headlines. Are pithy headlines really necessary on web articles? It's not like we need to save virtual page space!)
posted by muddgirl at 12:17 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: And after more than 100 comments, some people still haven't grasped the difference between "I am a picky eater because I don't like X, Y, Z", and "I am potentially a disordered eater because I only eat A, B, and C."

That's a good enough point. Let's talk about it. What is the difference? Can you become a disordered eater through habit? Or is there a strict divide between the two?
posted by koeselitz at 12:17 PM on July 6, 2010


nce you've been on CR for a couple of years, there's another evolution that happens. [...] You end up eating veggies and fruit and pretty much eliminating processed food. When you eat like this for a couple of years, your taste changes dramatically - now when you occasionally eat what "normal" people do, you find it entirely too sweet, too salty, too oily etc. (especially processed food).

This also happens for anorectics, for what it's worth.

I am a vegetarian, and slightly fussy eater (no recognizable eggs, no fish, no white saucy things (sour cream, mayo, ranch)). My boyfriend, however, is a very picky eater - mostly, only chicken, noodles, cheese, and white sauce. It drives me up a wall; we cook separately, and that is really hard. I cook and bake for people I care about, and to have something like a cobbler (from scratch, with cherries it took quite a while to pit) rejected feels like something else being rejected. Since most of his food is chicken-noodles-vegetable (only broccoli or asparagus; no peppers, onions, cucumbers, greens...; nothing with vinegar), and most of my food is grain-vegetable-sauce, we don't intersect much.
posted by quadrilaterals at 12:18 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


zarq, you are right - there's a million ways a kid comes in contact with fast food, but the environment has some impact; if you tend to hang out with people who are also not fast food eaters, ecologically aware etc., this problem lessens. Of course, there's always school and friends, so you can't control that, especially once they're teenagers (I had my first fast food experience at 15, when I joined some friends at a newly opened McD).
posted by VikingSword at 12:21 PM on July 6, 2010


I'm far from picky when it comes to food, but I can't eat any crustaceans. As a kid I loved shrimp and crab, but when I was about 8 we had shrimp fondue at a restaurant, first thing I did back home was puke all over the living room carpet. Deep down I know that it's a psychosomatic thing, and I've caught myself eating stuff with shrimp in it a few times over the years. As soon as someone mentions that there's shrimp in what I'm eating I go "oh" and stop. Crab on the other hand, I can't eat from a shell because I get freaked out by the sound of crackling shell. *shiver* And I feel extra sorry for the little guys :-/
posted by pyrex at 12:24 PM on July 6, 2010


It seems I borked a link here: 'virgin olive oil and a mediterranean diet fight heart disease by changing how our genes function'.
posted by VikingSword at 12:24 PM on July 6, 2010


That's a good enough point. Let's talk about it. What is the difference? Can you become a disordered eater through habit? Or is there a strict divide between the two?

I think it's perfectly possible to learn a strong aversion to certain foods. I also think that when that aversion severely impacts a person's lifestyle then it's worth examining to see if it's contributing to disordered behavior. I'm not sure the strict divide you refer to shouldn't also take this into account?

I have difficulty with (among other things) most types of peppers and with all cucumbers and anything pickled. Their smells, tastes and textures literally make me gag. This isn't a conditioned reflex / learned behavior. Cucumbers and especially pickles usually prompt a reaction even if I don't consciously know that they're in my food. But, this is also not an allergy. I've been tested and do have allergies, but am not allergic to those foods.

This does not negatively impact my life. I avoid those foods and others and that's fine. If friends cook with them I will either pick out the ingredients or beg off. My close friends and family know I have dietary restrictions from GERD and allergies anyway, and usually care enough to work around them for me. I have one friend who loves shellfish, and likes to make seafood paella on a regular basis when he throws parties. I'm allergic to shellfish, so I usually get served a bowl of pasta. :) NBD.

Anyway, I assume any DSM definition would only describe more severe cases that negatively impact a person's ability to function in society.
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on July 6, 2010


People are so damn picky about their food.

Seriously, get new roommates. That sounds like a not-fun place to live - especially with the gagging when C sees you eat cheese. Rude much?
posted by rtha at 12:30 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have one friend who loves shellfish, and likes to make seafood paella on a regular basis when he throws parties.

My awesome friend Caleb throws a paella party once a year. He makes two kinds - one with shellfish and one without. Win! (I'm allergic to shellfish, which makes me very sad.)
posted by rtha at 12:32 PM on July 6, 2010


Let's talk about it. What is the difference? Can you become a disordered eater through habit? Or is there a strict divide between the two?

I'm not a psychologist or a psychiatrist - I do know that we currently differentiate between people who are anorexic and people who are "merely" dieting. We also differentiate between people who sometimes over-eat and people who binge or are compulsive overeaters. Some people who diet do "slide" into anorexia or bulimia, just as some people who eat or sometimes overeat "slide" into compulsive overeating and binging, although I would absolutely hesitate to say that dieting causes anorexia - it seems more likely to me that underlying brain disorders are triggered by the temporarily pleasant effects of traditional dieting, which leads to more and more extreme manifestations.

I imagine that the same distinction will be made as the DSM section on "Eating Disorders - Not Otherwise Specified" (where "selective eating" is generally diagnosed right now) is expanded and, um, specified. Currently, the EDNOS section covers a lots of different types of disorders.
posted by muddgirl at 12:32 PM on July 6, 2010


DieHipsterDie: "You eat what's on your plate or you go hungry. It's a privalage to be able to stick your nose up at a plate of food sitting in front of you."

It's far more the privilege to have available to eat most of the foods that picky eaters upthread have issues with - vegetables from greater than 500 miles away, fresh fish, anything with a spice profile from outside your culture, etc. Maybe picky eaters are so much more common in western culture because we have access to - and to a certain extent, are expected to like - a world's worth of different foods.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:33 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Tell me how you have made your children eat foods they didn't want to eat. Please, I want to know! It would really help us out around dinnertime.

For me growing up (four kids in the family), there was only rule as I recall. Eat your tossed salad or no dessert. We NEVER had to eat a cooked vegetable we didn't want. Of course, the main course was generally chosen to not offend any known dislikes, which lead to some pretty banal main courses (canned spaghetti, Kraft dinner etc), whereas Mom and Dad indulged themselves with "the weird stuff".
posted by philip-random at 12:35 PM on July 6, 2010


The weirdest "food quirk" I ever came across -- I dated a guy who only ate meat when it didn't visually resemble anything that came from an animal. So, for instance, he'd eat a chicken patty, but not a chicken drumstick. Hamburger was fine, but not steak. Lamb meatballs were okay, not lamb chops. Meatloaf worked fine, not the cuts of meat it would have come from.

I just nodded politely when he told me this (after having cooked a chicken-thigh dinner that I've made for myself a lot and love) and said nothing. It was ultimately one of a few reasons why we dated only very briefly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:36 PM on July 6, 2010


I was a fairly picky eater as a child, but I've grown out of it pretty well. Most things I'll give a shot these days, although most seafood and tomatoes are still problematic.

When I was in college, I decided I needed to like a vegetable and a breakfast protein. I picked broccoli and eggs. I ate two hard-boiled eggs and a small plate of unadorned broccoli for about a month until I liked them. I remember that month or so being particularly excruciating--it was difficult not to gag unless I a) cut the food into tiny tiny pieces and swallowed them like pills and/or b) dowsed it in mustard--that only worked for the eggs. Eventually it wasn't so bad, and now I love both of those foods. I also used to hate green beans, but now I will eat roasted green beans like French fries. Now I'm hungry.
posted by emkelley at 12:38 PM on July 6, 2010


zarq, you are right - there's a million ways a kid comes in contact with fast food, but the environment has some impact; if you tend to hang out with people who are also not fast food eaters, ecologically aware etc., this problem lessens.

Completely agree.

Of course, there's always school and friends, so you can't control that, especially once they're teenagers (I had my first fast food experience at 15, when I joined some friends at a newly opened McD).

Sounds familiar. My parents didn't keep soda or candy in the house and never went to anything more fast food than a pizzeria. I only very rarely had soda before I was a teenager. My wife and I are doing the same with our kids. I'm hoping it will help save their teeth.
posted by zarq at 12:40 PM on July 6, 2010


I don't think I mind saying "No, thanks though" koeselitz. I never expect to get food from anyone. I'm more the person who shows up with food for other people. Even on the second pass, I might make an excuse, such as "I already ate, but thanks" or "my stomach is bothering me, take a raincheck?" On the third pass, I do that bright, fake, "No, thank you!" and immediately change the subject because at this point, having to say no three times is a little much and I'm past the point of subtle social nicety by then.

About the fourth time is when I get annoyed, but never disgusted or embarrassed. If you're eating eggs, you might never notice that I would sit catty-corner across the table from you, or a little upwind, and, thanks to years of practice at gormless mouthbreathing due to a now-corrected deviated septum, I'll just try to avoid smelling it and smile all the while.

Finding out what people do and do not like is one of those little messages you can send to someone that says "I like you enough to know what you like." That's why I return from my trips with boxes and bags of food for each of my friends. It isn't like they are starving to death; it's the communication that, "I know what you enjoy and I brought you some," because that look on their faces when they see the jar of apricot preserves is far better to me than any pleasure I would get out of keeping it to myself.

I'm not really picky about food, I'd just rather not barf on your table if I can help it or make that cak! noise like a cat on the first pass at ejecting a hairball because you feel I must have this object in my mouth. I try to avoid doing that to other people so I either A) memorize their food preferences, or B) ask.

No need to eschew social eating. If you don't have a great memory, just, you know, ask.

Also, your roommates are a little off, especially Roommate C.
posted by adipocere at 12:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


What strikes me about some of these folks in the article who have the picky eating is that seem to want to change or wish they could but they are having a devil of a time doing it and they do feel like this is impacting their lives in a negative way - either socially or knowing their nutrition isn't as good as it should be. It almost reminds me of people who have phobias about things like flying or public speaking - they would love to be able to change but are having trouble getting there.
posted by pointystick at 12:42 PM on July 6, 2010


My awesome friend Caleb throws a paella party once a year. He makes two kinds - one with shellfish and one without. Win!

I need to be friends with Caleb! :D

(I'm allergic to shellfish, which makes me very sad.)

I miss New England clam chowder. Really, really miss it. Didn't develop the allergy until I was in my 20's.
posted by zarq at 12:46 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I cannot abide raw or cooked peppers, unless they are so thoroughly chopped up as to be indistinguishable from the surrounding food, like a tasty bowl of chili. I mean tiny.

When I was a kid, my mother would make green peppers stuffed with rice and beef. Knowing I couldn't stand it, she would scoop out the rice and beef and expect me to eat it, but it reeked of pepper, of course. I swear I can smell a pepper from a block away and gag when I do. If, however, I'd tried to be as picky as some people are I wouldn't have survived into adolescence because one or both parents would have clocked me.
posted by etaoin at 12:46 PM on July 6, 2010


Picky eaters make it hard for those of us with legitimate food allergies/intolerances/sensitivities to be taken seriously, which is pretty irritating. If I ask the waiter for every single ingredient in a specific dish, it's not because I'm neurotic, it's because I'd prefer not to shit myself at the table from trace amounts of butter. This will ruin not only my meal but everyone else's.

When I was little, though, I went through a phase where I had to have either a grilled cheese sandwich or macaroni and cheese for one of my three meals a day, or I would become alarmingly fractious. I didn't care what the other meals were, I would eat anything you put in front of me that wasn't death-causing (fish, shellfish), but woe betide the poor fool who denied me my cheesy goodness.

I guess the lactose intolerance of my adulthood is the karmic punishment for my early childhood stubbornness or something, idk.
posted by elizardbits at 12:46 PM on July 6, 2010


Yeah, I don't know about the whole genetic component thing. While alfalfa sprouts are the only thing that will make me seriously nauseous and somewhat green in the face, I'm a shitty Italian, as I dislike the taste of tomatoes, mushrooms, and olives. Always have, still do - though I will eat them if they're small, cooked, and mixed into a sauce or something (preferably overpowered by other things, like a dozen cloves of yummy garlic). But raw, and sizable chunks of this holy trinity makes me lose my appetite pretty quickly. I'm not a picky eater as I'll eat most other deliciously colorful things, and will at least give (most) new foods and dishes at least a try. But I will pretty much always look on in horror when people pop a cherry tomato like it's a piece of popcorn.
posted by raztaj at 12:50 PM on July 6, 2010


I was getting all ready to be a condescending asshole to picky eaters. (It's a relationship deal breaker for me.) Then I read biscotti's comment:

...the nearest I can describe it is that my body seems to think some foods are poisonous, even though I am not technically allergic to them, trying to make myself eat one of these foods is beyond stressful, I am talking heart pounding, nausea, shaking. And it's exhausting having people think that it's a) any of their business what I eat and b) something I could and should just get over. I don't find eating weird things (or even not-weird to anyone else things) fun or adventurous, I find it stressful and deeply upsetting.

And damn, if that isn't how I feel about dancing. I've never liked dancing and even as a kid, my body just violently resisted any attempt to get me to dance. Every few years I give it a go, thinking that the right combination of age and maturity will have "cured" me. Nope. Still get what I guess is essentially a panic attack. I'll even fight through it for a while until people start asking me if I'm ok, because I look so miserable.

So anyway. That kind of puts it in perspective for me. You can go dance while I'll be at the buffet.
posted by Telf at 12:55 PM on July 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


Good lord, I do so hate these kinds of bad journalism. Ladies and Gentlemen, the book is called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is simply a listing of observed behavior that a group of psychiatrists have collected over the years and classified as symptoms of a behavior that can be classified in a statistical way to determine if someone does not conform to "the norm" of society, based upon the statistical occurrence of the behavior in a given population group. An individual behavior does not make a person crazy. It is a data point in an attempt to quantify the mental state of an individual based upon how prevalent said behavior is in society. The reason why there is a "national registry" of this behavior is to create the statistical model of how prevalent the behavior is in the population.

NEVER USE A DESCRIPTION IN THE DSM IV TO SELF-DIAGNOSE. IT IS NOT HOW THE TOOL WAS MEANT TO BE USED.
posted by daq at 1:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


You'll notice these medical geniuses don't have a treatment, just a diagnosis. And now they have a handy insurance billing code. Well, what the heck. Treatment is a waste of time and a potential liability. Modern medicine relies on diagnostics without treatment as the perfect risk-free revenue source.

This is like when vitamin D deficiency got a billing code and suddenly everyone in the NW was diagnosed and billed for..... vitamins!

1) Find a common condition.
2) Medicalize it.
3) Get insurance companies to code it for billing.
4) Profit!
posted by warbaby at 1:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Picky eaters make it hard for those of us with legitimate food allergies/intolerances/sensitivities to be taken seriously, which is pretty irritating. If I ask the waiter for every single ingredient in a specific dish, it's not because I'm neurotic, it's because I'd prefer not to shit myself at the table from trace amounts of butter.

...because physical insensitivities are serious while neuroses are cause for scorn?
posted by muddgirl at 1:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The line between a disorder and a personality quirk is the point at which the issue negatively affects your quality of life (or that of people who are close to you). If you cope by mostly eating at home that's totally cool. If you're lying to people around you or obsessively fearing for your children's health, that's probably a disorder.

I generally agree with that assessment.

I suspect my knee-jerk "pathologizing" reaction comes from having read Melody Petersen's book Our Daily Meds.

Because after that, I hear DSM and all that comes through is Great, the creation of one more excuse for the Big Pharma to market yet another partially-effective/side-effect-laden pill directly to consumers.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:01 PM on July 6, 2010


adipocere: “Also, your roommates are a little off, especially Roommate C.”

[Honestly, that rant really wasn't about you – I'm glad you seemed to understand that. It's them. And yeah, it's a bit weird. I could take it to some degree, but after a bit it can be almost insane. I remember cooking a pot of macaroni and cheese – from scratch, real cheddar and everything, tasty stuff – and I managed to get them to eat one bowl amongst them. And then Roommate B, who hadn't touched it, turned right around and made herself some Kraft mac & cheese out of a box. I almost punched a wall. But then, these are my issues, too; and I think the hardest thing about food and people is that it's such a reminder of childhood for many of us.]
posted by koeselitz at 1:03 PM on July 6, 2010


Hey everybody! Come on over to my house! I have a nice fresh durian I'm about to dig into!
posted by kozad at 1:05 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Didn't develop the allergy until I was in my 20's.

Yup, adult onset here as well. I miss lobster most. And scallops. It makes going out for dim sum difficult - so many things have shrimp in them! - but otherwise doesn't really cramp my style.
posted by rtha at 1:09 PM on July 6, 2010


BBC had a series on picky eaters who ate only crisps, or pasta, or chicken fingers, and who would gag if they had to eat any vegetable except for tomato sauce (as in pasta sauce, not ketchup).

o_O Holy crap, this isn't just me? If adding this to the DSM means that research goes towards figuring out how I can eat vegetables (except for tomato sauce!) without becoming physically ill at the taste/texture, then I am absolutely all for it. I desperately want to be a healthy eater and actually have a varied diet (rather than a collection of five or six bland staple foods that I rely on). Up until seeing this post, I'd been living my life under the impression that I was just a total wimp when it came to food, "not trying hard enough to like things", and so on... If this is actually a Thing (rather than just "I don't like food") it gives me renewed hope that I'll be able to get through this someday and actually eat real food. Rather than, you know, making tentative attempts to try new (or old) things and being rewarded with the same kind of miserable nausea (from the sensations) and guilt (from "not trying hard enough") every time.

Thanks, MetaFilter.

(For those of you being dismissive and jocular about this: please give some consideration to the fact that not everyone's sensory perception of the world works the same way yours does. It's exactly as thoughtless and shortsighted as telling someone with dyslexia that they should "stop being lazy and learn to read".)
posted by NMcCoy at 1:09 PM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


I love cooking – it means a hell of a lot to me: friendship, community, enjoyable time spent together... love, really. I love cooking for people, and I love cooking with people. But I gave up a long time ago...

Wow, that's a really sad situation for someone like you to be in, koeslitz. Oh, what I wouldn't give to have a roommate or nearby friend with compatible tastes who loved cooking so much and approached it with that kind of attitude and enthusiasm.

I live alone and have a few food allergies and odd food reactions/aversions that I need to accommodate, but I would love to expand and improve my diet. I know very little about cooking, but the social and community aspects of it are most appealing to me. I'd like to learn more about cooking, but I struggle to find the motivation to teach myself, especially given that I eat by myself at home almost all the time anyway...so at the end of the day, my dietary choices are driven mostly by habit, comfort and convenience.

This thread is fascinating, and I especially appreciate the links to blogs and articles written by folks who identify themselves as picky eaters. I have always been the pickiest eater in my family and have endured a great deal of hassling for it, but after reading some of these accounts, it's become clear to me that I'm really only moderately picky and don't actually have severe food issues - I think it's just that I've spent most of my time around people who are quite adventurous about food, so I'm the odd one out.

One time, I politely and gracefully refused to eat pasta salad at a picnic with some friends and acquaintances, and the maker of the pasta salad relentlessly hounded me to defend myself and justify why I wouldn't eat it: "What? You DON'T LIKE pasta salad? I've never heard of such nonsense. Why not? Is it the coldness? The pasta? The texture? What don't you like about it?" Made me feel so unjustly shamed and uncomfortable that I went out of my way to avoid the person ever after.
posted by velvet winter at 1:09 PM on July 6, 2010


because physical insensitivities are serious while neuroses are cause for scorn?

Yeah, no, "neurotic" was a terrible choice of wording there, which I regretted upon further thought. I'm talking about the people who refuse to eat things because they just don't feel like it, not because it makes them nauseous, or because they hate the mouthfeel, or because it gives them a rash, or because it brings up traumatic childhood memories, or because it will make them die. People who, for no articulated reason, make a fuss about absolutely refusing to eat things.
posted by elizardbits at 1:10 PM on July 6, 2010


That was me until about age 22. I hated fish, seafood,

Weird, I'm the exact opposite.. When I was a kid, I ate seafood all the time and at some point, after reaching adulthood, I just completely lost the taste for it. All of it; fish, crab, lobster, shrimp, basically anything from underwater holds absolutely no interest for me.

I wouldn't say I'm disorder-level in my avoidance, but I'll generally go hungry for quite a while before I'd opt for seafood.

The truly strange thing is that, despite my distaste, every once in a while, I'll grab a bite of my wife's fish dinner, knowing that I'm not going to like it.

I just assume that my appetite for self punishment is greater than my disdain for fish.

posted by quin at 1:11 PM on July 6, 2010


Great. More things to add to the list of things "wrong" with me.
posted by longbaugh at 1:11 PM on July 6, 2010


In my halfassed defense I am rather agitated because the WRONG PEOPLE ARE WINNING THE FOOTBALL DAMMIT.
posted by elizardbits at 1:12 PM on July 6, 2010


I suspect a lot of people's food issues trace back to being a child who needs to control something in their lives. Eating is about the only thing a child can absolutely control.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:14 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm sitting in a doctor's waiting room reading this and getting so fucking hungry.
posted by orme at 1:15 PM on July 6, 2010


the maker of the pasta salad relentlessly hounded me to defend myself and justify why I wouldn't eat it:

If it's any comfort, velvet winter, the vast, vast majority of pasta salads that people bring to picnics are terrible.
posted by rtha at 1:15 PM on July 6, 2010


This is just freaking fascinating. I forwarded it to a cousin who is a behavioral psychologist . . . I'll be eager to hear what he has to say about it.

As for myself, I was an incredibly picky eater (seriously, chicken and fries, potato or tortilla chips--no salsa!--rice and bread) until I was about 13. I don't remember opening up to new food, just that I looked up and one day I was eating stuff I had never eaten before.
Funny coda to the story:
Now I'm a professional chef. Most of my career has been spent cooking Japanese food, full of all those weird flavors and textures.
I still won't eat mayonnaise though. Eff that.

And for the record . . . I have no problem, as a chef, with allergies or even if you don't like something. But just own up to it. I currently run a kitchen on a small island in the South Pacific and I REFUSE to believe there are that many people with specific food allergies visiting our fair island at one time.
posted by kaiseki at 1:15 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


And props to Telf, above, for resisting that impulse to be condescending and finding perspective instead. The world needs more people who can do that.
posted by NMcCoy at 1:17 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hee, linked the article to the husband, and he said:
Jordan: For reasons that aren't clear, almost all adult picky eaters like French fries and often chicken fingers, health experts say.
HAHA
That's pretty funny
Because I'm kind of picky about chicken fingers
I don't like the ones with the clear vein of gelatinous fat in the middle
Told you guys.

Also, I have no idea what he's talking about. Clear vein of gelatinous fat?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:19 PM on July 6, 2010


And after more than 100 comments, some people still haven't grasped the difference between "I am a picky eater because I don't like X, Y, Z", and "I am potentially a disordered eater because I only eat A, B, and C."

Speaking as someone who potentially might fall into the category of 'potentially disordered eaters', I definitely second this. What people are describing in this thread is absolutely nothing like the topic of the article.

It's not an issue of simply not liking certain foods or textures, or being close-minded or unwilling to try things. For me personally, it's an issue of a very (subjectively) 'real' physical reaction to a huge range of food. One single example would be that the smell/texture of seafood actually makes me physically gag... and it's not at all controllable. (And for the last six or seven years, I've really put forth a good-faith effort to try some at least four or five times a year).

And this happens with a huge variety of foods - soups, creams, certain fruits and any type of paste/pate/most condiments and sauces.

As to the question of the line between taste and disorder, I'd say that it borders on a disorder because it takes a very serious toll on my life--socially and professionally--and I absolutely would change it if I could. (Try explaining to people at a business dinner that you simply cannot handle 'grown up' foods. Or on a date/dinner party).

But it really isn't an unwillingness to try, or a preference for anything else--I don't really enjoy the foods that I can stomach, at least not in the way that other people seem to get genuine satisfaction from taste/texture/whatever else.

Another thing that I only saw briefly mentioned here is the effect of textures and mixtures of foods. Maybe the most frustrating/inexplicably thing is the physical reactions I always have from tasting multiple flavors/textures that I actually like at once.

I understand how weird/silly this all must sound to all you foodies out there. But it really isn't an issue of being close-minded or unwilling to trying new things. And say what you want about 'pathologizing the human condition', but to me, it should be considered a disorder if it is something far outside the norm, that isn't a voluntary behavior, and does have severe negative effects on one's quality of life.
posted by graphnerd at 1:20 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


People who, for no articulated reason, make a fuss about absolutely refusing to eat things.

Why does anyone have to justify why they don't want to eat some particular food (when we're talking about regular, every-day situations, not situations where someone is seeking help for a behavior that is negatively affecting their life)? I guess I just don't understand the need for any kind of judgment about someone's motives. It's very common and very confusing to me - maybe I have Aspergers ;)
posted by muddgirl at 1:23 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, how do you define "picky eating?" When I was little there were a lot of things I didn't like. Now I'm much more open minded; I've found many more foods I do like and am willing to taste anything once. That said, I don't eat things I know I don't like - for example, I don't like raw tomatoes (though paradoxically I do like some salsas and ketchup and marinara sauce.) Does not eating what I know I don't like make me picky? (And yes, every few years I'll taste a tomato to see if my tastes have changed.)

What threw up a flag for me in the article was how her stomach churned at an apricot - if that was a physical stomach churning instead of a metaphorical one, it makes me wonder if she has a lot of food allergies or some other GI condition that no one's diagnosed.

My dad's idea of spaghetti sauce is a can of tomato sauce. That's it. My mom sneaks in onion powder and other spices, and he says it's really good but has no idea she puts that stuff in it. Same with his chili... she sneaks in chili powder and other spices.

Pope Guilty: "I have a very similar reaction to the sensation of teeth scraping on bone"

I don't like that sensation either but I just pick the meat off with my fingers or a fork and eat it. I can't stand holding it to my mouth and eating directly from it.

windbox: "I don't care if you're a picky eater but does anyone else know someone who eats tuna salad sandwiches but claims to otherwise "hate seafood"? What the fuck is that?"

I like shrimp, crab rangoon, crab-based sushi, and fish sticks, but not most other kinds of seafood.

Daddy-O: "I couldn't believe it the first time someone told me they didn't like cucumbers. The most inoffensive of the garden vegetables! What the hell?!?"

Can't stand them.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:27 PM on July 6, 2010


I'm talking about the people who refuse to eat things because they just don't feel like it, not because it makes them nauseous, or because they hate the mouthfeel, or because it gives them a rash, or because it brings up traumatic childhood memories, or because it will make them die. People who, for no articulated reason, make a fuss about absolutely refusing to eat things.

Perhaps they have a reason that falls into one of your acceptable categories, but they're choosing not to articulate it. In most cases, my telling people that certain foods make me feel ill and utterly ruin a meal for me is met with scorn and ridicule, so I choose not to articulate that. My choice not to justify myself may make it appear as though I "just don't feel like it" or as though I'm "refusing" for no reason, but I don't see how I owe other people an explanation.

I think this falls under the category of "whenever you don't understand why someone is doing something bizarre or infuriating or upsetting to you, choose the most charitable explanation you can think of." When people cut you off in traffic, assume that they didn't see you, not that they're huge jerks. And when people turn down your delicious offal-and-mayonnaise salad or your prizewinning chicken fingers with ketchup, assume that they're doing the best they can to navigate the world in a way that keeps them healthy and comfortable, not that they're being fussy and obstinate for its own sake.
posted by decathecting at 1:30 PM on July 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yup, adult onset here as well. I miss lobster most. And scallops. It makes going out for dim sum difficult - so many things have shrimp in them! - but otherwise doesn't really cramp my style.

Mine either. :)

I have given up on dim sum -- unless I'm going with friends who speak Cantonese. Plus, I have to know for a fact that the restaurant doesn't use MSG, which I'm also allergic to.

Then, even if they say they don't use MSG, you have to pay attention to whether they're buying frozen things from an outside vendor. For example, egg rolls and spring rolls from outside suppliers almost always contain MSG. A restaurant may accurately say they don't cook with it, but may forget about those items.
posted by zarq at 1:31 PM on July 6, 2010


They don't have to justify it to me, as I don't really care about other people's motivations for doing things. It just pisses me off when someone serving or preparing my food gives me the rolling eye bitchface when I ask about ingredients, because I know they just think I'm being a big fussy baby instead of someone who would rather not be sick in their restaurant or house. I don't care about the fussy eater's reasoning, I care about how that fussiness affects me when they're not even around.

I solve this problem by not really eating outside my own house.
posted by elizardbits at 1:34 PM on July 6, 2010


So. When I was a young child, my mother cooked. A wide variety of things. I don't really remember what she made but I guess I ate it all. And then my father died unexpectedly, and she didn't cook any more, because she was out grinding through a degree and getting a job to support herself and me.

And somewhere in there I quit eating well. I learnt to make a couple very simple things and that was that. ("make" included "pick up the phone and order a cheese pizza"). My tastes suddenly shifted to very, very boring, and that was that.

When I went off to animation school and was very, very broke, they continued to be very boring. I had - still have - no interest in being adventuresome, because, well, food isn't one of the great pleasures of my life, I just want to put something in there that I know I won't find unpleasant because I just don't want to have to think about it, I just want my body to shut the fuck up and let me get back to drawing or whatever.

I know that there are more things I'll eat than the things I actually know how to prepare and a few other things, but I just don't remember any of them. I don't file this shit away in my head like I file away the way things look. I only remember tastes and textures that make me want to eject the offending food right then and there.

And really, this kinda scares me, because I'm getting old enough that I know I should start eating a hell of a lot better, and I don't have the faintest fucking idea where to start. The world of food is about as alien to me as the intricacies of animation are to most of you. I'm not fundamentally interested in exploring it, and to be honest the prospect of doing that is pretty scary. Lots of places to fuck up, lots of places to look stupid and ill-informed, lots of chances to either starve myself because I can't choke down whatever and end up going hungry for a while, or to not even have the fucking vocabulary and knowledge to be able to narrow down that "hey this has ingredient X in it and it would be pretty awesome without that, next time let's make it without that".
posted by egypturnash at 1:36 PM on July 6, 2010


Also, I have no idea what he's talking about. Clear vein of gelatinous fat?

There's a tendony thing that attaches the chicken finger to the chicken breast (lol) that most cooks/food prep workers remove before cooking the chicken. If they don't, it is a horrible chewy-twangy thing to feel in your mouth. I assume this is what he's talking about.
posted by elizardbits at 1:39 PM on July 6, 2010


Reading this, I realize that my daughter (who I consider very very picky) is not so picky after all. She loves broccoli and her favorite meal is a pasta dish with pesto cream sauce and lima beans.

I also find that she is more open to trying new foods away from home. Her school served breakfast for lunch a few months back, and she tried scrambled eggs and decided she liked them. She had always refused scrambled eggs at home, but surprised us one Saturday morning by requesting some. Now she eats them whenever we have them.

I'm going to take my newfound realization that it could be much worse and let go of the lingering frustration I have over her not being a more adventurous eater.
posted by jeoc at 1:39 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't like lima beans. Or liver.
posted by VicNebulous at 1:46 PM on July 6, 2010


I just don't understand this, and never have. I think it was, in part, because I was never allowed to be a picky eater when I was a kid. I ate what was put in front of me, or I went hungry. My parents also forced me to at least try everything once. Even if it was just a small bite.

This could be why I find people who indulge their children's every whim so. fucking. annoying.


My parents tried very hard to keep me from being a picky eater. They made me do the "three bites" thing, and if I absolutely hated everything on offer at a give meal, I was pretty much SOL: After age 4 or so, there were no special accommodations. (Though they did meet me half way on the veggies, usually: by the time I was six or so, I could stomach (or even enjoy) many raw vegetables, though cooked ones continued to be an eldritch horror, for the most part. So if we were having (thawed out) succostash for dinner, my mom would give me some raw carrots and a few pieces of bell pepper instead. She'd usually chop some up for herself, too. Maybe she hated the Green Giant extrude-a-veg as much as I did.)

The upshot of this is that, when I was a little kid, though I was by no means malnourished, I was very skinny. And when we had something for dinner that I really liked (noodles and gravy, for instance, or tacos, or dumplings) I would hoover down as much as I could hold, because for the most part, dinners were about scrounging little, likeable tidbits from among large, inedible masses. Dinners were frustrating for everyone.

In my teens, I started gaining an undesirable quantity of weight. Some of this had to do with having increasingly sedentary hobbies, I'm sure; but I think that having consistent access to enjoyable food played a significant part as well. My parents went into business for themselves right as I entered adolescence, and I started getting to improvise meals for myself more and more frequently. Instant mac-n-cheese! Chicken strips drenched in soy sauce! Instant noodle side dishes, several at a time! Instant rice and perfectly homogeous, prefab spaghetti sauce! Hellz yeah! And no veggies except cucumber salad and cauliflower, ever, ever, ever! I was eating far worse things than ever before (and I blessed my overburdened folks for it every day) but I still had the habit of wolfing anything tasty, from back in the days when sit-down meals were mostly miserable.

To this day, I still sometimes have to remind myself that the mere fact that something tastes good doesn't mean I have to inhale every molecule of it.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:49 PM on July 6, 2010


The weirdest "food quirk" I ever came across -- I dated a guy who only ate meat when it didn't visually resemble anything that came from an animal. So, for instance, he'd eat a chicken patty, but not a chicken drumstick. Hamburger was fine, but not steak. Lamb meatballs were okay, not lamb chops. Meatloaf worked fine, not the cuts of meat it would have come from.

Holy shit. I'm not the only one. My friend jokes that I only take my food in puck form.
posted by MegoSteve at 1:52 PM on July 6, 2010


STOP EATING BISCUITS
posted by peterkins at 1:56 PM on July 6, 2010


I'll try anything once (ostrich heart is DELICIOUS if you ever get a chance to try it), but I do have a long list of things I do not eat and will not. And no, it's not because I haven't had it like this. Still mad at my dad decades later for even trying to convince me mushrooms tasted like Skittles. I was five and had already tired of that BS. So it's not cute when you try it on me now. And fuck you and the "acquired taste" you rode in on. I'm not going to torture myself until I learn to like it. As the song says, "Feed me enough poison, I'll learn to enjoy it."

Add to that fact that I have a decently wide swath of allergies (all legumes, for example, not just peanuts; which extends to cover most nuts as they're often prepared with peanut oil). So yes, I do need to know what's in what you're offering me, and maybe I'm asking cause I'm allergic, and maybe I'm asking because I'm being picky.

I have no idea what planet you so called "foodie" people come from. Food is fuel for your body. The goal is to get it down and keep it down. Do you spend your money on scented gasolines for your car? "This week, we have a sparkling strawberry from an oil field in West Texas." This is also why when I drink, I drink it straight, and the highest proof-count in the house. Beer? That stuff that tastes terrible AND takes forever to get you drunk? Plus it makes you fat? WHERE DO I SIGN UP!!!
posted by Eideteker at 1:57 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've had some roommates that have had this situation. One ate nothing but macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches (and other similar bread + cheese items, like cheese garlic bread). Another one ate chicken fingers and fries for every meal.

There's a difference between a liberal food policy with restrictions and a limited personal menu. I can understand a preference like not eating eggs or not eating fish, but to narrow your day-to-day diet down to only a couple of options seems crazy. If you can list the foods you've eaten in the last month from memory because you only eat 10 different kinds of foods, you have some kind of diet problem.

I don't like having the same food two days in a row. Also, I don't understand how they survive without fruit and vegetables. I'm not a great eater, but I don't mind vegetables and if I don't have them in a while, I can feel my body slowing down.
posted by demiurge at 1:58 PM on July 6, 2010


I suspect a lot of people's food issues trace back to being a child who needs to control something in their lives. Eating is about the only thing a child can absolutely control.

I think there's truth here but only part of one. But don't overlook basic fear of the unknown. I didn't eat pizza until I was 14. Was this a control thing? Certainly not a conscious level. It just looked too complicated for me. Sauce, melted cheeses, various veggies all sort of lumped together -- it was a turn-off ...

Until I actually tried some. Instant change in attitude to not just pizza but all kinds of more complicated looking things.
posted by philip-random at 2:00 PM on July 6, 2010


It just pisses me off when someone serving or preparing my food gives me the rolling eye bitchface when I ask about ingredients, because I know they just think I'm being a big fussy baby instead of someone who would rather not be sick in their restaurant or house. I don't care about the fussy eater's reasoning, I care about how that fussiness affects me when they're not even around.


It sounds more like you have an issue with dicky order-takers/food servers, no?
posted by stifford at 2:06 PM on July 6, 2010


Not that you have an "issue", I mean the issue is being caused by dicky order takers/food servers.
posted by stifford at 2:10 PM on July 6, 2010


My middle sister was a picky eater, mostly with anything fish or crustacean related. Just talking about fish or shrimp would make her gag (not that I, her little brother, would ever do such a thing). But once, when she was about 14, we were eating take out chinese and she remarked that "this is the best sweet and sour chicken ever!" but it was sweet and sour shrimp. I still tease her about it.
posted by puny human at 2:11 PM on July 6, 2010


I love cucumber. I snack on it, I cook certain things just to have an excuse to make tzaziki sauce or raita, I beg for it on my sandwiches at Subway, and a salad is not a salad without cucumber. But: the smell of cucumber makes me feel funny. It makes me feel like I need to burp a little bit and can't. The smell of watermelon does the same thing, but I'll eat it too. Anything stronger, though - cantaloupe, honeydew, etc - makes me seriously feel like I need to burp so badly that I might not be able to breathe. I have not eaten any of the rough-skinned round melons in years; I have no idea if there would be some sort of side effect. Cucumbers and watermelon, once eaten, do not produce any particular indigestion or discomfort.

It's a SMELL. There should be no way, especially at such weak concentrations, that I should suffer any sort of actual esophageal distress from the smell of it. And yet, I do, or else it is psychosomatic or possibly actual anxiety that just happens to feel especially burpy.

So every time somebody tells me they can't eat something, I think of cantaloupe. And if I felt that way about the majority of the foods I was confronted with on a regular basis, I would most certainly pursue both medical and psychological treatment. Yes, inclusion in the DSM means it'll have a billing code so the damn insurance companies will handle it; it also means treatment - for something that can otherwise be blown off so easily - is more within reach for a lot of people.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:12 PM on July 6, 2010


They don't have to justify it to me, as I don't really care about other people's motivations for doing things. It just pisses me off when someone serving or preparing my food gives me the rolling eye bitchface when I ask about ingredients, because I know they just think I'm being a big fussy baby instead of someone who would rather not be sick in their restaurant or house.

Screw 'em.

Seriously. I don't give a flying Wallenda what people think of me when I ask them about ingredients. Shellfish makes me *violently* ill. The other things I'm allergic to give me excruciating migraines. My urge to care what other people think of my "neurotic behavior" stops at reliving the experience of praying for death for hours on the floor of my bathroom.

A few years back, after a death in the family, my relatives took us all out to Red Lobster for dinner. I asked them to pick a different restaurant, but they chose the big red Arthropod. So I interrogated the waitress. Turns out there's nothing on their damned menu that doesn't carry a risk of cross contamination. The meat is grilled on the same stove as the shellfish. The salads are prepared by people who also handle shrimp. The non-shellfish is fried in oil which may or may not also be used to make other fried items.

I didn't eat. Sat with the family for an hour and a half until dinner was over then when I left, I grabbed a "safe" dinner at Whataburger.

Re: waitresses and waiters, if they don't want my order or a tip, then they'll roll their eyes. I have zero patience for theatrics in the face of reasonable questions.
posted by zarq at 2:12 PM on July 6, 2010


I have no idea what planet you so called "foodie" people come from. Food is fuel for your body. The goal is to get it down and keep it down. Do you spend your money on scented gasolines for your car?

My car doesn't have tastebuds. I do.

Food-as-fuel can be useful and obviously works for (some/many) people. Food is also pleasure, and is tied up in all kinds of social rituals, and to an awful lot of us, it's just fun. It's fun to cook. It's fun to cook with other people. I don't think people who don't think the way I do about food are bad people, and I don't sneer at them.
posted by rtha at 2:16 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Food is fuel for your body.

And sex is only for making babies?
posted by JoanArkham at 2:20 PM on July 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


I have no idea what planet you so called "foodie" people come from. Food is fuel for your body. The goal is to get it down and keep it down.

Totally agreed. I wish that pill from Willy Wonka existed - I'd love to have back the hours that I spend grocery shopping, cooking, eating, and washing dishes. Wasted time IMO.
posted by desjardins at 2:22 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


And sex is only for making babies?

For some people? Yes.
posted by muddgirl at 2:23 PM on July 6, 2010


"It's fun to cook. It's fun to cook with other people."

Spoken like someone who didn't spend their time as a child in the kitchen being chased out.

"I don't think people who don't think the way I do about food are bad people, and I don't sneer at them."

I don't either, but I don't understand them. They literally make no sense to me. Like scented gasolines (no, your car doesn't have taste buds, but you can smell the gas while you're filling up. After you're done fueling up, it's no different from your inability to taste food that's now in your stomach).
posted by Eideteker at 2:25 PM on July 6, 2010


Also, please don't give me that "Oh, it must be so SAD to be you." BS either! You're free to spend your time however you like. For me, the less time I spend getting food in me is the more time I have for other stuff. Food that is not inside me serves no purpose, since I can't metabolize it (at least not yet... working on the osmosis thing).
posted by Eideteker at 2:28 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eideteker, I can tell a good meal from a mediocre one long after I've finished eating it. This is not a poop joke, but a comment on the feeling of contentment and relaxation that comes from a good meal. OK maybe a little bit it's a poop joke, but mostly the other thing.
posted by Mister_A at 2:30 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


> or me, the less time I spend getting food in me is the more time I have for other stuff. Food that is not inside me serves no purpose, since I can't metabolize it (at least not yet... working on the osmosis thing).

There's a pretty clear difference between enjoying the act of cooking and the community around it and then just using food as a means of escape or entertainment and regularly eating to satiation. Failure to recognize that and then making sweeping generalizations is coming pretty close to trolling.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:31 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


You remind me of my friend Matt, Eideteker. He treated food in a mechanical (chemical, really) sort of way until he learned to make salsa with fresh cilantro. I kid you not—cilantro turned him into a foodie!
posted by Mister_A at 2:32 PM on July 6, 2010


no, your car doesn't have taste buds, but you can smell the gas while you're filling up

Yeah, but I'm not the car, and the car doesn't give a shit what the gas smells like.

And you know, I don't feel OH POOR BABY about how you view food. I don't really grok it, but I don't pity you. You apparently feel angry at people who don't think of food simply as fuel, or you think we're stupid, based on your tone here.

You think that spending time on food-related things is a waste. I don't. You do other stuff that you find appealing instead of cooking/eating. I find cooking and eating appealing, and therefore it's not a waste of time. For me.

S'okay? S'okay.
posted by rtha at 2:33 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


And sex is only for making babies?

For some people? Yes.


Fair enough. Assuming we never wind up eating or having sex together. Honestly, I'd probably have a lot fewer issues with food and weight if I could do the food-as-fuel thing but I'm not wired that way. That doesn't make me (I hope) a sneering foodie or anything.
posted by JoanArkham at 2:35 PM on July 6, 2010


Correction, I don't eat bran, particularly bran muffins.

I was forced to eat bran muffins as a kid. Hated them. Was made to eat them anyway, couldn't leave the table unless I finished it, bite by dry nauseous bite. One day I refused, said fuck it, I'm not eating anymore. It was forced into my mouth. I threw up, all over him. That was the last time he tried that.

It took till about my late 20s until the smell of bran didn't want to make me throw up while also prompting a smile. I still won't eat it though.

Just checked with my mom and oddly enough the foods I didn't care for as a kid, oatmeal, grits, coconut are things I still don't like. I didn't like breakfast foods then, but eventually developed a taste. Have always eaten most vegetables and fruits though. Evidently I was breeze as a kid, baring that incident with barn and matches.
posted by new brand day at 2:37 PM on July 6, 2010


"And you know, I don't feel OH POOR BABY about how you view food."

I wasn't speaking to you. I was speaking to the "you" out there in the world who feels the need to do that.

"You apparently feel angry at people who don't think of food simply as fuel, or you think we're stupid, based on your tone here."

I don't have a problem with foodies. I just don't understand them. I am trying to detail how it looks from my perspective. What's the problem?

I do, however, have a problem with people who tell me I'm making the wrong choices, or I am waiting for my epiphany*, or whatever. Maybe that's what you're picking up on? If you're picking up anger, well, it's pretty common for me to be mad at myself for not being able to figure something out (or grok, to use your word; that's maybe more accurate, since I tend to try to insert myself into the mind of other people in cases like these).

"You think that spending time on food-related things is a waste. I don't. You do other stuff that you find appealing instead of cooking/eating. I find cooking and eating appealing, and therefore it's not a waste of time. For me."

This is exactly what I said, with the pronouns reversed. Maybe we're having another culture-clash here, in addition to the foodie-vs-fuelly (HAH, mefi injoke!) one.

"I'd probably have a lot fewer issues with food and weight if I could do the food-as-fuel thing"

FWIW, I'm overweight, though that's probably as much due to a lack of exercise as diet (I've started exercising regularly and am steadily losing weight, but it's too early to be conclusive).



* I've done things like this. The canonical example for me was discovering a container of strawberry Quik several years after trying it and hating it. I tried it and suddenly loved it. I did something similar with bike-riding. I hated it, put the bike away for several years, then tried it years later and suddenly loved it. Trying things again is not my problem. And your special preparation is not the cure. I don't hate you, not really, but I *am* tired of going over this over and over again.
posted by Eideteker at 2:51 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Amongst my wife's family, I am considered a picky eater, because I hate celery. That's about it. I don't like organ meat (grainy textures are icky), but we don't really eat those. I don't much like brussel sprouts, but that can be ignored. No, it's the celery thing-- it tastes like dirt. I don't want the celery, hate the texture, don't put that celery salt crap on my burgers either. I can tell.

I am glad I have all of you weirdos with REAL pickiness issues to make me feel better.

In all seriousness, though, I also have a small underweight former micropreemie four year old, and getting him to eat is a pretty huge chore. He just doesn't eat without coaxing. But I have found that many of these common preferences for things that picky eaters go for haven't developed because we just never exposed him to them. Yeah, he loves chicken nuggets/fingers. But he's never had any white bread, has only had a very few potato chips in his life, and only gets real cheese. I sometimes wonder if we DID give him these classic picky refuges if he wouldn't eat them and gain more weight, but I think I'd rather have him be a tough eater that will eat cabbage and broccoli and brown rice and real pasta in small amounts than McDonald's in bigger amounts. Besides, he's healthy enough. He'll live.

He had a nanny for awhile-- his compromised lungs made it so he couldn't be in day care lest he get RSV and the like-- and I do know she occasionally let him eat crap. One day last year I pulled into the McDonald's drive-through for a quick shake and from the back seat I hear "I WANT CHICKEN NUGGETS!" What the hell, former nanny, I thought. Why does he even KNOW what this place is?

We haven't been back.
posted by norm at 2:54 PM on July 6, 2010


I don't eat chicken, and haven't since 1982. Had a bad experience with it and it just stuck. To this day, my stomach rolls at the thought of eating chicken, even though I miss the taste of it. I'm good if something contains chicken and I can't tell, but as soon as I find out, my tummy slams shut and hunger turns to revulsion.

I guess you'd better lock me up in the loony bin. Please tell the staff no chicken meals, thanks.
posted by davelog at 2:56 PM on July 6, 2010


The widespread growth of food allergies and food pickiness seems more of a feature of advanced societies with a lot of food access.

I'd agree, but only because there hasn't been much you can do for anaphylactic shock until fairly recently.
posted by electroboy at 3:09 PM on July 6, 2010


Now, I'm asking this from the perspective of a "picky-eater", that has already won all my vs. parental showdowns at dinner time, lol.

Once the one bite has been eaten, do they have to try that particular food again?
Or is it "off the list" for good?


For us, it's off the list for good, for that child. That is, the rest of us will still eat it, and that child will have it on their plate, but we typically have (for dinner) three or four things on each plate, so they're free to ignore it. And we don't make a dinner consisting entirely of things that are off the list.

This may sound like a lot to track, but it isn't -- because my kids aren't picky. There are very few things my kids will not eat consistently -- spicy foods, mostly -- but there are lots of things they won't eat once in a while. I don't sweat either of 'em. The thing I care about is that my kids reject things having tried them, rather than out of fear or a desire to be difficult. I demand they try, but not that they enjoy it (or pretend to.)

Wow, I never [k]new that some kids get to tell their parents what they want for dinner.

I think perhaps this is why dinnertime can be such a battle for some parents. Children pick a lot of battles, because they're constantly struggling to set and deal with boundaries. I'd rather not have dinnertime be a battle, so we balance respect (letting them choose what to eat from a collection of acceptable foods, letting them leave food on their plate if they're feeling full) with demands for fundamental good behavior (having to try something before you reject it, not taking huge portions that you're not going to eat, not throwing a tantrum because we don't have the exact food you want in the house at the moment.)

Of all the parental challenges we've faced -- and we've faced many -- this one was a non-issue from the get-go.
posted by davejay at 3:11 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Apropos dealing with children, my daughter went through a picky phase -- white bread and pasta and inoffensive pap -- and came out of it when we started making a big play of eating grown-up food.

"You wouldn't like that -- it's grown-up food"
"yes yes i do i want some grown-up food!"

On the other hand, she might have moved on anyway. I am far from convinced about people's stories of success with picky children. It's very common, and most kids move on, so quite possibly it doesn't matter a damn what you do and you should just not worry about it.

I was one of those parents who insisted you should try everything a few times before you could say you didn't like it. This came back on me when my kid was about 7 and we were in a fish and chip shop that had deep-fried Mars bars. She wanted to order one, but I demurred, saying I didn't think I would like it. "Dad, you always say I have to eat things when I think I won't like them, so you have to too." Since I have always tried to be consistent, I was trapped. I managed a couple of bites, she ate the rest.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:11 PM on July 6, 2010


My boyfriend could have been interviewed for this article.
He will eat:
plain hamburgers (no cheese, no condiments, just meat and bun)
french fries (must be thin-cut, not steak fries)
chicken fingers
plain hot dogs (but only if they've been boiled)
pasta with plain tomato sauce
broccoli
cauliflower
corn (occasionally)
white rice
In other words, about the most bland stuff out there. But when it comes to sweets, he prefers the most overly sugary, artificially flavored stuff you can find. If it's blue, he'll love it.
Unless it's naturally blue. I bought fresh blueberries from the local farmers' market the other day and, to my surprise, he asked to try one. In our four months of dating, it was the first time I have seen him eat fresh fruit. He spit it out, declaring it disgusting and "plant-like".
I like food. All different kinds. It's exhausting to try and agree on a new restaurant. Because I'm not a picky eater, I don't pay much attention to the details of a restaurant's menu. I'll remember whether I liked the place, whether it was clean. I'll remember what I ate last time and what was in it, but that's not enough information for him to make a decision. When I suggest a restaurant he hasn't been to before, mentioning that they have good burgers (thinking that means he shouldn't have trouble finding something to order), I'm bombarded with questions like, "Do they have french fries or steak fries?" And, "Do they use regular hamburger buns or onion rolls?"
He keeps insisting that he's a super taster, even though we've done the saccharin test (3rd paragraph) with negative results. I keep insisting that he's just picky. Perhaps it's psychosis.
posted by juleen at 3:12 PM on July 6, 2010


Oh, and the best thing ever to validate our approach? The day they were at a friend's house, and the friend tried to take them to Burger King, and my kids both refused to eat it, electing instead to wait until they'd gotten home to eat -- although my daughter was willing to try a single bite of a single apple french fry before refusing to eat any more.
posted by davejay at 3:13 PM on July 6, 2010


This is exactly what I said, with the pronouns reversed. Maybe we're having another culture-clash here, in addition to the foodie-vs-fuelly (HAH, mefi injoke!) one.

Could be, could be - the perils of text-based communication!

Maybe I was just "hearing" you wrong in this: I have no idea what planet you so called "foodie" people come from. Food is fuel for your body. The goal is to get it down and keep it down. Do you spend your money on scented gasolines for your car? "This week, we have a sparkling strawberry from an oil field in West Texas." This is also why when I drink, I drink it straight, and the highest proof-count in the house. Beer? That stuff that tastes terrible AND takes forever to get you drunk? Plus it makes you fat? WHERE DO I SIGN UP!!!

Because the goal, for lots of folks, is not just get it down and keep it down. And beer? The goal - for me - is not just to Get Drunk. I like the taste. I like trying different kinds of beer. If the only alcohol available in the world were 151, I probably wouldn't drink very often, because I don't really like being drunk (well, being drunk is okay - the aftermath sucks). I spend far more than I should on certain single malts because I love the way they taste. I'll happily drop $12 for an excellent cocktail made with house-made bitters and other ingredients. Like that.

Food for me is bound up in memories of places I've been and people I've met and hung out with and cooked with and for. I'm sorry you got chased out of the kitchen as a kid; I think that's a shitty way of treating a child. When I was young, we were poor and my mom made our bread. I always got some dough to make my own loaf. Maybe that's how it started.
posted by rtha at 3:28 PM on July 6, 2010


Anyone ever able to make the jump from abhorring liver to at least learning to tolerate it?

I actually went backwards-- I grew up eating liver and onions and liking it enough to continue making it when I was first married. At some point, though, I stopped and I haven't eaten beef liver in 15 years at least. The thought is not at all appealing although I like most pork- and chicken- liver based dishes.

I am amazed to look back at the foods I wouldn't eat as a child-- and yes, potato chips was one of them. But also soda, hot dogs, ice cream, cheese, potato salad-- I must have been a nightmare at 4th of July picnics. Yet somehow I grew up to eat pretty much anything except I get a little queasy at the thought of eating meat out of my comfort zone (rabbit, goat, squirrel.)

And there is good news for the picky eater: my husband was 30 when I met him and lived on fast food burgers, peanut butter, and chicken biscuits. After 10 years with me, he eats pretty much anything I cook with a few exceptions such as spinach. He still hates strawberries, however. When it comes to fresh fruit he eats apples, oranges, grapes and bananas. Fresh peaches in season hold no interest for him, nor does watermelon even though he is a native son of the South.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:30 PM on July 6, 2010


hated tomatoes and despite trying to hide it (I'd salt them, pepper them, mix them up with the mashed potatoes, anything to cover their nasty tomato flavor with something else) but my dad caught on - and I'd eat a bite of a tomato whenever he noticed. Today, I'll eat them if they're served to me. I don't love them and won't add them to my food, but I don't really care if I have to eat them. There's no terror in the tomato for me.

Yeah, that didn't work with me and liver. He tried to be strict about it, but when a child dislikes a certain food enough where they can't keep it down, how can you punish the child for it? How can you force the child not to throw up?

Tomatoes are OK. I'll eat them but usually ask for sandwiches without them. I still won't eat liver - the smell is awful.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:40 PM on July 6, 2010


You apparently feel angry at people who don't think of food simply as fuel, or you think we're stupid, based on your tone here.

I can't speak for Eideteker, and I actually enjoy eating (stuff that I like), but what angers me is how evangelical "foodies" behave about their little obsession. Worse than any Christian I've ever met. Scorn and/or pity for unbelievers, attempts to convert, disbelief of stated reasons for not wanting to eat a particular thing. Many seem to consider it some kind of moral failure to not like the same range of foods as they do, and some here have even said it's a deal-breaker for relationships. Yeah, it gets old.
posted by cj_ at 3:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eating liver is like eating the contents out of the swimming pool filter basket.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's really not. It filters stuff out, but that stuff either gets pissed out or stored in fatty tissues. The idea that the liver is chock-full of nastiness is simply mistaken.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:48 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


This thread makes me sad.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:49 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish I liked liver and onions. I love the way it smells. But I've never liked eating it.

Unless the liver is turned into pate....then I'll eat it, and happily.
posted by rtha at 3:51 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


He still hates strawberries

That's like saying you hate love, Christmas, and chocolate chip cookies.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:51 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't eat bananas. They disrupt my entire GI system. But I love bananas. I ate them all the time as a kid, but if they were green they tasted weird to me and gave me a slight stomach ache. As I aged, they had to be riper and riper, until about 15 years ago, I realized I had to just stop eating them. I can eat banana bread or any cooked bananas, just not fresh ones.

Mrs. Wimp can't eat Brazil nuts, as they cause her anaphylaxis. Early in our romantic career, I once unthinkingly ate some mixed nuts about an hour before seeing her, and greeted her with a kiss on the lips. About 3 minutes later her lips had swelled to three times their normal size and it dawned on my that I had eaten a Brazil nut. But in spite of my nagging her, she will not carry an epi pen.


What were we talking about?
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:54 PM on July 6, 2010


{doh!} "dawned on me"
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:55 PM on July 6, 2010


The list of foods which my family served which I hated:
liver, brussel sprouts, lentils, mushrooms, olives, onions, any cheese stronger than mozarela, sauerkraut, boiled potatoes, cantaloupe, fried eggs, grapefruit, pea soup.

This list is in decreasing order of the level of pain I currently recall over the experience of being forced to eat this shit. Never do that to a kid.

The list of these foods which I can not now stomach: liver. The first time I enjoyed brussel sprouts, lentils, mushrooms, olives &c amazed me one after the other. Pow pow pow pow pow.

Children's taste buds can be incredibly sensitive. Human psyches are almost all very sensitive. If you are an adult and you are a finicky eater you might want to consider buying some competent psychotherapy (not easy to find in my experience.)
posted by bukvich at 3:56 PM on July 6, 2010


I can't speak for Eideteker, and I actually enjoy eating (stuff that I like), but what angers me is how evangelical "foodies" behave about their little obsession.

There are certain categories of belief or experience that don't seem to allow for understanding those who stand outside of the group. And I'm not even thinking of religious categories. There are some life experiences that seem to be so directly perceived to individuals or so central to how people view their existence that they have a hard time understanding how it's even possible for someone to fall outside of that experience.

For example, a couple that get on my nerves: I've met very few extroverts that really understand an introvert's desire for less group interaction. This results in group events (like at work or such) that don't take into account that there are certain people there that really won't enjoy "forced fun" over smaller, more intimate conversations that may arise more naturally. Or families who thrive around food experiences and don't understand why people don't want seconds after having a big initial portion.

Also, not understanding how someone can hate strawberries.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:59 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


> It's really not. It filters stuff out, but that stuff either gets pissed out or stored in fatty tissues. The idea that the liver is chock-full of nastiness is simply mistaken.

Is it? This would imply that the animal was starved for a few days before being taken to the processing plant.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:00 PM on July 6, 2010


I'll try anything once (ostrich heart is DELICIOUS if you ever get a chance to try it)...

I have no idea what planet you so called "foodie" people come from. Food is fuel for your body. The goal is to get it down and keep it down.

I am trying to reconcile these two statements and failing. If food is just "fuel for the body" then why do you bother to mention that ostrich heart is delicious ("You must try ostrich heart! It provides calories, protein, and several important vitamins and minerals!")?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone might be a tool for being an overly picky eater. But not as much of a tool as a self-described "foodie."
posted by Camofrog at 4:00 PM on July 6, 2010


My daughter eats a Peanut Butter Veggie Dog Pizza for dinner EVERY NIGHT. Now I can officially call her mentally disturbed, right?

I blame the parents.
posted by ryanrs at 4:07 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


People who, for no articulated reason, make a fuss about absolutely refusing to eat things.

Why does it matter to you? You can still eat what you like.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:22 PM on July 6, 2010


I grew up with a mother who made her own Korean food, including things like kimchi and gochujang. I had a lot of "here, try this" growing up and I quickly learned that just because the description of it sounds bad doesn't mean it tastes bad. So I'm not averse to eating any kind of food including things most people generally recoil from like liver or anchovies. A couple of strange quirks, though: I don't like olives, but I love tapenade; and I love pickles, but don't put any on my hamburger, please.
posted by effwerd at 4:38 PM on July 6, 2010


Oh, and raisins. I can eat raisins out a box all day long. Just don't put them in... other things.
posted by effwerd at 4:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Huh now yer making me think about my various food-related conditions (I was the fattest dude who passed out from not eating for 2 weeks EVER!) and likes and dislikes. So many family rituals are based around food that it becomes this complete focus point for Issues. My BF still eats food really quickly, cause if you lingered at the table you're likely to be slapped or worse cause the family drunkeness would be kicking in around then.

I could not deal with restaurants until I was well into my 20s. We didn't go to restaurants that didn't have a drive-thou growing up (cause expensive) and the whole experience was weird and alien and completely nerve-wracking to me. What do I say? how do you order? What *are* these things? What if you can't afford things? OMG what if you don't LIKE IT? OMG OMG OMG. You know that scene in The Wire when Prezbo takes his top students out for a fancy french dinner and pretty much all of them have no idea how to react and are all cagey and anxious about everything? Yah that was me. I was somehow convinced (thanks Grandma!) that people who owned restaurants would try to confuse you and then force you to work in the kitchen. So I just ...did not go to them.

I got over that thanks to, again, My BF, who likes eating in restaurants cause they have no scary Family Dinner triggers for him and he started me out on My-Fair-Lady-esque lessons on Not Freaking Out All The Time. But still, had that not happened? I don't know. It's only been like a year since I was okay with leaving food on the plate. I had to get it into my head that no one was going to talk to me about wasting food at Langands'

So as a result, I really dove into food and wanted to try everything, and I'll eat anything really, but I have some points.

Eggs, as mentioned, I don't really like eggs unless they're disguised or cut up or in low quantities. I can eat an egg and bacon sandwich, not two, cause eggs are kinda gross en masse, but I used to not be able to eat any eggs so there. Omelets are still right out. Just make a quiche, please.

There are some green veggies I cannot take, which is odd cause I was the veggie advocate in the family, frying things in garlic and oil to make them edible. I'm sorry, Okra is not for me but thankfully I rarely come across it. I'm also not a fan of Kale unless, like above, it's so disguised it might as well be Garlic And Paprika Delivery System.

Ground Meat. I was told that ground beef was how the rich kill people by giving them awful meat from wherever so never, ever under any circumstances eat ground meat cause you have no idea what animal or cut it came from. IT COULD BE PEOPLE (actual line!). So I never had a Hamburger or meat pasta sauce or anything like that until I was 24 and my BF ground his own meat in front of me and made me a burger out of like obe steaks. Now I think *his* burgers are wonderful (with raw red onion and NOTHING ELSE on a poppy-seed roll) and I'll eat them in places I trust. Never gonna eat a burger from a chain tho. Too much...scary.

All milk smells and tastes spoiled to me, but I suspect that's lingering lactose issues (I'm on a pill a day) Skim milk smells like death and most strong cheeses make me retch a bit. I'm oddly okay with yogurt tho, and milk used-as-an-ingredient.

Fish I had a huge problem with, but got okay with some via Smoked Salmon, Caviar, and Sushi. I still have a problem with Shrimp and stuff that tastes very strongly of the Sea. That "fishy" smell brings out too many THIS IS SPOILED AND ROTTEN AND WILL MAKE YOU SICK alarms in my head, which brings me to the one thing I cannot, will not eat. The one thing that, if it is opened in a room I can tell and I have to fucking leave that room RIGHT NOW cause getting too close will make me THROW UP. The most vile, basic, trigger in my head...

Tinned Tuna Fish.

*GAH!*
posted by The Whelk at 4:47 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


liver, brussel sprouts, lentils, mushrooms, olives, onions, any cheese stronger than mozarela, sauerkraut, boiled potatoes, cantaloupe, fried eggs, grapefruit, pea soup.

Is medium cheddar cheese stronger than mozarela? Other than that, I also had a profound dislike for all of this stuff as a kid ... except maybe the boiled potatoes. I tolerated boiled potatoes. Now I'm still not a big fan of liver and fried eggs ... but everything else, no problem at all. So please, parents, don't force the issue with your picky kid. Give his/her sensory apparatus (and courage) time and space to develop and it will ...

... as sure as eggs is eggs.
posted by philip-random at 4:47 PM on July 6, 2010


And now I'm super-into Game Meat and Organ meat which just makes my Mom *boggle*.
posted by The Whelk at 4:48 PM on July 6, 2010


Oh and most Fois Gras has tasted like how Cat Food smelled so I ..avoided it.
posted by The Whelk at 4:49 PM on July 6, 2010


I was a very picky eater as a child, and even into young adulthood. Sometime after I graduated university and moved to the big city, though, my mind was opened to a number of new experiences, including food. And "trying new things" has gone into overdrive since I moved to Japan.

When I go back home, my family is still stuck in the picky eater paradigm. My sister is 40, and still won't eat anything with onions in it, like the pasta sauce I tried to make. (Seriously, what self-respecting chef makes pasta sauce with no onions??) I see very clearly where my pickiness came from; my family has simply chosen to maintain a very narrow range of foods.

The way I see it, there are plenty of foods out there that I don't care for, foods that I'll never crave, but very very foods I won't ever eat. Take broccoli, for example. No really, take it! I don't care for the taste of broccoli, I don't know why, but you'll never find me buying it at the grocery store. But if I unexpectedly find it in my dish at a restaurant, or at a dinner party, or any random situation that I find myself faced with the expectation to eat some broccoli...I eat it. Done. The trick is, I've found, is just realize that someone out there in the world really, really loves broccoli, so while eating it I try to understand why that is. (So far with broccoli, I haven't gotten the answer, but it may come to me the next time).
posted by zardoz at 4:52 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Broccoli roasted in juices and almonds is fine cause then it doesn't taste like broccoli.


broccoli, I love you but you need like three different spices to taste good. Why can't you be spinache, which I can and will eat raw handfuls of
posted by The Whelk at 4:57 PM on July 6, 2010


The most vile, basic, trigger in my head...
Tinned Tuna Fish.


Whoa! As far as my own pickiness goes, when I was very small, tuna salad was all I ever wanted to eat! Somewhere around puberty, I moved on to trying all foods, and these days, I'll eat literally anything that's edible (and I'm pretty flexible on that qualification). But tuna salad is still my favorite food. Cold and delicious, from the fridge to a fork to my mouth.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:58 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I once knew someone who didn't eat courgettes (zucchini) because they were "posh".

That's very strange. Zucchini is one of the vegetables that actually grows well here (squash does in general), at least when there's enough water, and this is an old agricultural area without much money. The original settlers here were from Spain and brought some of their regional foods. Poor people have been eating zucchini here for hundreds of years.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:00 PM on July 6, 2010


Greg Nog, that was when I figured out we aren't actually the same person in some three-faces-of-Eve thing. Cause just thinking about the words Tuna Salad make me a bit sick.
posted by The Whelk at 5:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


No really, take it! I don't care for the taste of broccoli

As a kid, I hated broccoli, now it's my go to veggie. Brussels sprouts still make me gag though.

Oh, and raisins. I can eat raisins out a box all day long. Just don't put them in... other things.

Nothing ruins a good choco chip cookie for me like hitting a raisin. I'd rather not think too long on why I think 'ick, bug' during that moment.
posted by nomisxid at 5:01 PM on July 6, 2010


If you aren't a foodie, then you have failed at life. And you should feel shame.
posted by belvidere at 5:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Brussels sprouts

Young small ones cooked in garlic and butter, cause almost anything is good in garlic and butter, cause then you're eating garlic and butter.

Then again I've eaten crickets in garlic and butter no one else seems to like those. It's like shrimp but without that awful brine taste! No one agrees with me. Sigh.
posted by The Whelk at 5:06 PM on July 6, 2010


I would eat shoes if they were cooked in sufficient garlic and butter. With a squeeze of lemon on top.
posted by rtha at 5:18 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Those of you who say your kids have to have at least one bite (or three bites) of everything on their plates: what do you do if they say "no"?

(I'm asking out of curiosity, not looking for parenting advice.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:27 PM on July 6, 2010


I would definitely buy a bottle of meal-in-a-pill if I could. I wouldn't eat it every meal, or even every day, but it would be great to have something that easy for times when I'm in a food-as-fuel mood.

When I like cooking I really like it, but as the main chef in this house, with two sort of picky kids and a husband who'll eat anything so long as it's salad, cooking often feels like the chore it is. Get a few instant meals in there and I could save up enthusiasm for the real meals.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:31 PM on July 6, 2010


Brussels sprouts still make me gag though.

I wasn't a fan, until I saw a suggestion somewhere (could well have been here, actually) that they work really well if you add some black pepper and stick them in a George Foreman* grill for about ten minutes. And it's true! They go all charred and slightly caramelized, and actually taste of something rather than being vaguely sprouty mush.

*other electric grilling solutions are available
posted by ZsigE at 5:46 PM on July 6, 2010


God, I wish I wasn't a picky eater. I am, though, and I'm trying to get better. A lot of my issues have to do with texture - raw tomatoes literally make me gag. I'm getting better about fish, but bones terrify me, and I end up going through the fish portion removing any and all bones before I'll try any, even though a whole grilled red snapper in Bali is one of the best meals of my life. Zucchini, eggplant (except in baba ganoush), olives, beans of all kinds, I just can't handle them. And then there's traditional Japanese food, like natto, yama-imo, and seaweed (the smell, dear god, the smell) that I just can't handle.

I'm in love with salty and crunchy, and damn, it shows. I'm trying very hard to get better. Since high school, I have managed to add onions, bell (not green) peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, white fish (can't stand red fleshed fish), raw spinach, Japanese mizuna (mustard greens) also raw, edamame, chicken cartilage (only the small, bite-sized deep fried pieces, seriously, you've got to try nankotsu karaage), pig tongue (mmm), shrimp, octopus, squid, and good lord, that list is small. I'm still wrestling with eating better, but some things I just can't handle.

On the other hand, one thing that's really helped me with eating new foods is that I was raised to be polite. Especially living in Japan (and before that, China), being a guest in someone's house was a sure way for me to eat new things, simply because I'm terrified of upsetting/offending my host. As a result, I've eaten things I would never have eaten (food with any chilli/spice/heat at all) small clams, roast donkey, the aforementioned pig tongue, beef hoof ligaments -- not good, little river eels that you bite behind the head and pull the flesh off with your teeth, my first experience with sushi, kaiseki cuisine, and, most recently tomato juice and my aunt-in-law's house), just to avoid being a rude guest. Out of that, there's a good deal that I've since learned to like. I think that might be one way to help kids grow out of pickiness, to teach them to be polite and gracious guests, and then, when they're old enough, arrange meals with friends where you can expose them to new foods.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:46 PM on July 6, 2010


Hundreds of comments and no love for George Carlin...

"He's a fussy eater. Fussy eater is a euphemism for 'Big Pain In The Ass'"
posted by Confess, Fletch at 5:48 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, one thing that's really helped me with eating new foods is that I was raised to be polite. Especially living in Japan (and before that, China), being a guest in someone's house was a sure way for me to eat new things, simply because I'm terrified of upsetting/offending my host. As a result, I've eaten things I would never have eaten (food with any chilli/spice/heat at all) small clams, roast donkey, the aforementioned pig tongue, beef hoof ligaments

Oh god yes. This trumped any food weirdness I might have had. If you're a guest, you Eat It. Which after I stopped being a total hermit in high school and had to go to people's houses, helped me get introduced to things I would have never eaten otherwise.
posted by The Whelk at 5:52 PM on July 6, 2010


My son, now 6, is a picky eater to the point of disordered eating. He has been since he started eating. We have had him in food therapy, and he now has about 10 foods he will eat, instead of just 2 (cheerios and milk). This is very hard, both for us and for him. If he is forced, he has a full fledged panic attack. He vomits involuntarily, sometimes even with food he tolerates. We have run every test known to our doctors, and nothing appears to be wrong. We cook a wide variety of healthy food, our older daughter has no issues, we don't pressure him or unreasonably spoil him. He just can't eat. Can. Not. And you know? A psychological diagnosis would help us, since our insurer won't cover "developmental" therapy.
posted by Malla at 5:52 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah, forgot to add, as a result of the guest thing, I've had fried crickets, fried bees, raw deer, and bear jerky. All in one meal. Let's just say the bear jerky was surprisingly okay. And, from a much different meal, in a different place, yak is delicious.

And preview? Brussel sprouts didn't make my list of bad food because they can't even be considered food. They are instruments of torture. They should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention (in the early drafts, they were). Brussel sprouts are little cabbages made of pure evil!*

I tried to find the bit from Time Bandits to provide the quote, but strangely, it wasn't on youtube. I consider this a shocking omission. Most likely, the brussel sprouts are behind it.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:53 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


And you know? A psychological diagnosis would help us, since our insurer won't cover "developmental" therapy.

Which is precisely why something reaching that level of disorder should be in the DSM. Cause our insurance system is bizarre and this an issue that's come up.
posted by The Whelk at 5:54 PM on July 6, 2010


Nothing ruins a good choco chip cookie for me like hitting a raisin. I'd rather not think too long on why I think 'ick, bug' during that moment.

I don't know what it is for me. It just seems like an affront to god (and I don't believe in god) to have raisins in chocolate chip or any kind of cookies. For the most part it's some kind of betrayal of textural expectations; chewing on a raisin in a cookie just don't fit into my brain's equation on what eating a cookie should be like. That said, just the other day I had some mole negro that had raisins in it and it was delicious, but the raisins were blended into the sauce, not whole. So it's definitely something about the whole raisin when it's combined with other foods that bugs me. Except trail mix; I can eat trail mix. Okay, I've just confused myself.
posted by effwerd at 6:02 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Which is precisely why something reaching that level of disorder should be in the DSM. Cause our insurance system is bizarre and this an issue that's come up.

If you gave me some time I could probably come up with a worse idea than restructuring a society's medical science around its insane and totally dysfunctional political and economic system, but nothing is coming to mind off hand.
posted by enn at 6:05 PM on July 6, 2010


well if it was up to me the political and economic system would be violently reformed beforehand but, work with what you can do.
posted by The Whelk at 6:07 PM on July 6, 2010


The Whelk: Gah, yes, canned tuna. Blech. BLAH. When I was a kid I told all the people at my daycare, every sitter I ever had, and the people at school that I was allergic to tuna. There was no way I was going to eat that stuff.

Davejay - this is how it is with my kids, and it seems to work pretty well.

I think the oddest thing about my fish aversion (phobia?) is that when we did the big sushi challenge, I ate quite a bit...albeit tentatively...until the moment when I remembered it was fish, and then I froze, halfway through eating some whitetail tuna, and panicked. The urge to vomit was almost too much to handle. It took a load of concentration and effort to get up and get to the bathroom without causing a scene. I barely made it into a stall before retching, in shame, long enough that my eyes were watering. I was more irritated than anything - it's like my head simply won't let me eat that stuff. I don't like feeling like I can't overcome things. It pisses me off. It didn't even taste bad. That's the kicker right there - it wasn't about the taste. It was knowing it was fish. Not raw fish - the raw or cooked makes no difference. I always react the same way. It didn't matter that earlier that night I'd downed a bit of octopus and some eel and even enjoyed the eel. Once I let myself remember "This is seafood/fish," it was over. I was out. I did try to eat some more, but I just couldn't do it.

Glad to see other people think some veggies taste like dirt, too. People say things like, "If it tasted like dirt maybe it wasn't washed!" But seriously, to me, so many green veggies taste like dirt no matter how many times they're scrubbed. I also can't handle vegetables that feel like they're popping when you bite down - like corn, peas, etc. Squicks me out. I wish I knew how much of this was just normal dislike and how much was, you know, an ISSUE. If this gets into the DSM and it means they find ways to help people like me learn how to eat normally, then I am all for it too.

I am fairly open to trying things, mostly out of a sense of stubbornness. I wish there were definitive ways to describe the tastes of things to other people. I tend to try, and get reactions like, "Really? That wasn't fishy to me at all!" So then I think, ok, maybe my tasters are broken. Doesn't explain the mental aspect, though.
posted by routergirl at 6:13 PM on July 6, 2010


And you know? A psychological diagnosis would help us, since our insurer won't cover "developmental" therapy.

Yeah, though it sounds strange to think of including it in the DSM, I can totally sympathize with those who actually have to deal with this as a serious issue. If putting it in the DSM helps people, I'm all for it. I know I'd go crazy if all I could eat was french fries and chicken fingers (tasteless pun not intended).
posted by effwerd at 6:20 PM on July 6, 2010


Upon further consideration, the issue that come across most strongly from the WSJ article is that the sense of shame and ostracism, fear of being a "social leper" is the biggest problem being a picky eater introduces into their life.*

Once again, I find myself coming around to the issue of patholigization; is this a medical condition, or a case of inadequate social skills?

Is it a case of
I have a medical condition that prevents me from taking part in social activities
or
I need to learn skills that well let me stand up for myself and push back when people get all up in my grill about what I'm willing or not willing to eat?
I've had this come up in family contexts where someone has prepared an elaborate meal full of stuff I find repulsive, I took a Miss Manners Approved™ gesture of a bite, left the rest, and engaged the table conversation.

There was also the time that Cook & Cook's Spouse invited us to their favorite restaurant. I stared at the rather short menu for 45 minutes trying to find the least repulsive choice.

This went through multiple iterations over multiple family get togethers.

Word got back to us that the cook was offended that I didn't choke down the meals Cook had prepared, and that I made a big deal of things at the restaurant.

This dear and beloved extended family member grew up in a culture where it would be considered impolite not to choke down the plate of food offered to me, and also to decline taking things onto my plate that I had no intention of eating, to (in the classic guilt-trip phrasing) "Not even try it".

Fuck. That. Shit.

It is my habit to not put anything on my plate that I don't intend to eat. Aside from the fact that I find some foods repulsive to eat, I don't particularly want to feel like I'm going out of my way to waste food. This is why I had such trouble finding something to order and have someone pay money for at a restaurant.

And if it's family dinner and it's "Okay, everybody gets a prepared plate of X"... As I said, Miss Manners is on my side, so getting bent out of shape by me not finishing my plate is completely out of pocket.

Just because you cooked something with love and care to share with me doesn't mean it won't make me vomit if I try to swallow it, so guilt tripping me about my failure to engage social obligations is similarly out of frame.

The article said that kids seem to react well to assertiveness training. I hope it pans out for adults too. Start pushing back at the finger-wagging, eye-rolling, judgmental foodies.

Stopping feeling ashamed about it is step one. And I'm going with "that's not a medical condition, and treating it like one is an excuse for Big Pharma to market a pill."
---
* Once studies are done that demonstrate that picky eaters are nutritionally deficient because of their eating habits, that's an issue to add to the mix. But as far as I can tell, it's so far only a suspected issue.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:27 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and raisins. I can eat raisins out a box all day long. Just don't put them in... other things.

I'm the exact opposite. I really don't like raisins alone, but they are requisite in many of my favorite dishes like Cuban Chicken pie, Country Captain, and Chicken Vindaloo. Also I won't say no to a dish of homemade rum raisin ice cream. But no cookies with raisins-- that's just nasty.

All this talk of liver has me hungry for liverwurst-- I could eat a slice every single day and never get tired of it. Really it's just a poor man's pate.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:43 PM on July 6, 2010


Tell me how you have made your children eat foods they didn't want to eat. Please, I want to know! It would really help us out around dinnertime.

My parents said "here is food, eat or starve". They stuck by it.

I ate.

/not a picky eater
posted by Malice at 6:44 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


not good, little river eels that you bite behind the head and pull the flesh off with your teeth

o.O
posted by zarq at 6:50 PM on July 6, 2010


Raisins are wrong in chocolate chip cookies. Oatmeal cookies? Fine.

And green peppers are from Satan unless they've been wallowing around with sausages and onions until everything is beautiful carmelized sausagey goodness.
posted by rtha at 6:52 PM on July 6, 2010


Yeah, no raisin-chocolate chip cookies. That's just weird.

Hot oatmeal raising cookies, on the other hand, are sublime.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:53 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Whelk: “Tinned Tuna Fish.”

Heh, yeah. In fact, I have to say that I love fish – shellfish, normal fish, roasted, grilled, I adore sashimi – but from the time of my earliest memory (which happens to be seeing the speeder bike chase in Return Of The Jedi in the theater when I was four, but anyway) I have loathed FISH IN A CAN. There is just something about FISH IN A CAN that seems foul to me; fish is a fresh thing, why would you cram it into a tiny tin can? Makes no sense, and it makes it sort of soft and rotty-like and weird. I have a feeling somebody's going to convince me to like sardines one of these days, but if they do, there isn't going to be a can involved.

Then again, the Native Americans apparently didn't like to eat their meat until it'd turned green, so what do I know?
posted by koeselitz at 6:53 PM on July 6, 2010


I used to bartend and occasionally ate the cocktail olives if there were no other food around, even though I didn't like them much. Still don't. I can tolerate them but the brine is just too much to really enjoy it.

That's because cocktail olives, and indeed any kind that comes brined in a jar, are an abomination in the face of all that is good and holy, and don't even deserve the august & noble title of 'olive'.

Try again with real olives sometime. There are hundreds of awesome varieties to enjoy.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:54 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Re: canned tuna, I do believe the quality has declined drastically in recent decades. I ate lots, LOTS of canned tuna in my childhood and youth, back in the 60s/70s, after which I was so heartily sick of it I didn't eat any for, like, forty years. Then last year I thought "Hm, tuna! Y'know what, I think I'm ready to welcome it back into my life." Bought a can, opened it up, took a forkful, and almost retched. It was truly horrible, both the flavor and texture, really an entirely different foodstuff from the tuna of my youth. I've done some experimenting since, and the really expensive Whole-Foods-type sustainable/organic albacore is OK, but anything cheaper puts me in mind of the really crappy varieties of cat food, and if such had been my only experience of canned tuna, I'd be right there with The Whelk in loathing it.
posted by Kat Allison at 6:54 PM on July 6, 2010


UbuRoivas: “That's because cocktail olives, and indeed any kind that comes brined in a jar, are an abomination in the face of all that is good and holy, and don't even deserve the august & noble title of 'olive'. Try again with real olives sometime. There are hundreds of awesome varieties to enjoy.”

Yeah, this is so absolutely true. I hated olives for so long because in Middle America growing up "olives" meant, at best, these black, sort of rank specks of weird that you got on the greasy, greasy pizza that your friend's mom who had no idea what you liked had ordered for you, and you had to pick them off.

Three years ago, I was in Spain, and suddenly found myself before a heaping bowl of these large, round, savory green fruits with a deep, subtle sweetness. And they were fucking incredible. I could eat them by the handful if I didn't keep choking on pits. I was astounded, because for all these years I'd hated olives, absolutely loathed them – and now I couldn't get enough.

Olives are great. 'Olives' in a briny jar – aren't olives at all.
posted by koeselitz at 7:01 PM on July 6, 2010


Olives in brine have to be washed before they are edible. I say this a lover of olives, unwashed brined olives are just nuggets of salty horror.
posted by The Whelk at 7:10 PM on July 6, 2010


It is my habit to not put anything on my plate that I don't intend to eat. Aside from the fact that I find some foods repulsive to eat, I don't particularly want to feel like I'm going out of my way to waste food. This is why I had such trouble finding something to order and have someone pay money for at a restaurant.

This is why I don't force my son to eat anything. Occasionally I can cajole him into trying a bite. Hubby gets better results (probably after the 15 exposures, who knows) I don't see the need to beat him down when I can get nutrients into him by other means. He's going to be depending on me for meals for another five years, tops. At a certain point he can make his own food.

We can't say that we want our kids to be independent and self-sufficient if we're literally shoving food down their throats.
posted by lysdexic at 7:11 PM on July 6, 2010


I've done some experimenting since, and the really expensive Whole-Foods-type sustainable/organic albacore is OK, but anything cheaper puts me in mind of the really crappy varieties of cat food, and if such had been my only experience of canned tuna, I'd be right there with The Whelk in loathing it.

YES CAT FOOD. It smelled exactly like when we'd have to give Cat the Cat the cheap cat wood cause we didn't go to the supermarket that day, which is why I always gave Cat scraps from dinner cause, yeah shit smelled nasty. We're both carnivores and I wouldn't eat that.

Thankfully Cat The Cat was an Unusual Beast and pretty much just ate whatever you'd put in front of her.
posted by The Whelk at 7:12 PM on July 6, 2010


I like olives as a fruit and as a salt delivery device.

But then I drink pickle juice.
posted by lysdexic at 7:16 PM on July 6, 2010




I like olives as a fruit and as a salt delivery device.

But then I drink pickle juice.



It is important to know these things about yourself. May I suggest Iceland, the Land Of Salted Everything No Matter What? Sodium Heaven.
posted by The Whelk at 7:17 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was working at Whole Foods, I started bringing olives home (and cheese and pate and pancetta and marinated Spanish anchovies and prosciutto and - god, there was a lot that was good about that job, for someone who likes food) and my partner, who'd thought forever that she didn't like olives, discovered that - lo! - olives are good!

And fish...I like all kinds. Cooked, raw, tinned. The oops-forgot-my-lunch-at-home options I keep at work include cans of tune and sardines in tomato sauce. But sardines are really best fresh, grilled with a squeeze of lemon or lime and some sea salt. If they're small enough, crunch them up bones and all yum.
posted by rtha at 7:19 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


o.O
posted by zarq at 6:50 PM on July 6 [+] [!]


No, really, they were great. They looked a little bit like curly fries. A group of us were invited to a student's house in Yichang, near the Three Gorges Dam, and we were on our best 'eat whatever is put in front of you' behavior. One of the students on the trip showed us how to eat them. You hold the head in the chopsticks, bite right behind the head, then pull the chopsticks away from your mouth, which strips the flesh from the bones, leaving you with tasty river eel dangling from your mouth and a Sub-Zero fatality dangling from your chopsticks.

It was a fantastic meal, though a little sobering to see that the family had made so many dishes that they more than covered their table. Some dishes were actually layed on other dishes, and while their kid was in university (signifying some amount of wealth), making a lunch like that, for four foreigners and four college students must have cost them dearly. Seriously, something like 30 different dishes. At the end, we were asked if we wanted rice, and one of the students (who had the best English) asked student who invited us, in English, through a clenched smile, if his parents had already made rice, and if so, to tell them that we would be delighted to have some. We were all truly stuffed, and then they came in with a ricecooker that could have fed an army, full of fluffy, wonderful rice.

On my own, I probably wouldn't have tried half of the food I ate at their house. Due to the guest complex instilled in my when I was young, that meal happens to be one of the best I've ever had. And the eels were deliciously crunchy.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:25 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The discussion about whether starving picky eaters would cause them to try new foods reminded me of the British liberation of concentration camp survivors at the end of WWII. The camp survivors were starving, and the British brought something called the "Bengal Famine Mixture" which they had good success with in the Bengal famine of 1943.

The mixture was an utter failure in Europe.

It is possible to find certain types of food repulsive even when starving.

Here's an excerpt from one account.

* * *

I was told that the recipe for what was then called 'Bengal famine gruel' had been given to Dame Janet by a Professor Meiklejohn, an eminent dietician who had accompanied her during their brief visit. The gruel was a mixture of powdered milk dissolved in boiling water, laced with enormous quantities of white sugar and flour generously donated by the British army from their own supplies. In appearance, the mixture resembled a thick, white soup, its taste, excessively sweet. It was universally rejected.

Those among the pathetic, skeletal inmates who had sufficient strength to talk to us found it strange that we did not understand how a long period of starvation can engender an intense loathing for almost any sweet substance. The universal cry was for vinegar. 'Essig, bitte. Essig - essig.' This astonished all my team. It was suggested to me, many years later, that the pleading for vinegar may have been due to the majority of the camp's victims being Jews from central and Eastern Europe who had been accustomed to a good deal of this acid liquid in their normal diet. We were not able to give them the much-requested vinegar, but we did supply large quantities of hot, unsweetened green tea, which they seemed to regard as an acceptable substitute: the army had uncovered a large local source of this beverage which they 'liberated' on behalf of our patients.

Nevertheless, we tried for several days to persuade all of them of the nutritional value of the gruel and, at nightfall, would leave a full churn in every hut in the hope that they would help themselves and each other. This only resulted in the most active among them lugging the churn out into the darkness and tipping the contents over the ground.

At first light when we re-entered the camp, each hut would be partly encircled by a lake of gleaming, white gruel. The occupants of the huts complained bitterly that the smell made them feel more unwell than the stench of death and excrement in which they had for so long existed.

With the departure of Dame Janet and the professor (they were with us for only a few days and were never seen by any of us to enter the actual horror camp) we stopped our attempt to inflict this concoction upon the many thousands whom we thought had already suffered enough.
posted by zippy at 7:40 PM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


I feel significantly less crazy about food at this point. Thanks crazy blue folk. :-) Well significantly less further away from some golden mean of diet normalcy, or something.
(I was munching sweet pickles while reading)
posted by sammyo at 7:42 PM on July 6, 2010


(I was munching sweet pickles while reading)

I don't consider myself a picky eater (and do consider myself something of a foodie, obnoxious as that label is), BUT I didn't like sweet pickles growing up. Earlier this year, someone brought a bottle of tiny sweet pickles to a work potluck. I said, I don't like sweet pickles, but I tried one because everyone else was eating them. OMFG they were so fucking delicious. I had to walk away from the buffet table to keep from devouring the whole jar.

That's a uniquely terrific experience, when you think you don't like something, you try it, and it rocks your world. Damn I want some sweet pickles now.
posted by jeoc at 7:54 PM on July 6, 2010


Pickles are great. Olives are even better. But only kalamata olives. Pitted. Picky me, headed straight for the DSM.
posted by blucevalo at 8:32 PM on July 6, 2010


I don't like eating pickys either. AM I CRAZY.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:52 PM on July 6, 2010


Tell me how you have made your children eat foods they didn't want to eat. Please, I want to know! It would really help us out around dinnertime.

My parents said "here is food, eat or starve". They stuck by it.


We do a less harsh version of this. I try to put a plate of raw veggies out when we get home from work; he can snack on those all he wants. Dinner is dinner, and no making something special unless something has seriously gone awry, but I do try to serve something he likes at every meal, even if its a side dish to something he's never seen before. I'll generally serve something six or eight times over a period of weeks before I give up. If he doesn't want to eat, he doesn't have to eat, but no snacks or anything later. Also, if he cleans his plate he can leave the table, but if he doesn't he has to stay until his father and I are done.
posted by anastasiav at 9:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ghidorah: “On my own, I probably wouldn't have tried half of the food I ate at their house. Due to the guest complex instilled in my when I was young, that meal happens to be one of the best I've ever had. And the eels were deliciously crunchy.”

Awesome.

A few years ago, my then-wife and I were hanging around Boulder on a Wednesday night when we wandered into an excellent sashimi place that the owner of Sushi Zanmai had opened next door so he could offer more authentic Japanese fare – great place, I wish I could remember the name. Since it was Wednesday, we were pretty much the only ones there, so we sat at the bar for about four hours drinking and talking to a young chef there who'd moved from Japan about two months before. He showed us a lot of neat Japanese foods and such, and after a while we asked him why he'd moved to the US. His response was immediate: "Food." He then proceeded to describe this incredible journey he'd taken over the two months he'd been in the US within the world of cheese. He had a personal custom – he'd try a new variety of cheese every week, taking those seven days to work his way through the small brick or block or wheel the cheese came in – and every week was different and exciting to him. He said he'd started with cheddar, since someone had told him that was a sort of "standard" cheese, but he was shocked the second week when gouda was so absolutely different from cheddar that it might as well be another food entirely. And then he'd moved on to brie – again, a completely different palate, different texture. Every one seemed to stun him with a new, completely unexpected flavor which took him hours and days to even wrap his head around, let alone work into a meal in a way that made sense. He had funny stories about which cheeses go particularly well with various fish or with seaweed. Some weeks, like the bleu week, apparently had started in failure and reluctance but ended in triumph. It was sort of incredible, and I sat there mesmerized to think that this stuff that I'd always taken completely for granted was so vast and multifaceted; I had no idea. He sure knew a hell of a lot more about cheese than I do, I can tell you that.

And the other thing I kept thinking afterwards was: I'll bet they have foods as broad and multifarious as cheese in lots of other countries. I've just never heard of them.
posted by koeselitz at 9:13 PM on July 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Hi, my name is contessa and I'm a picky eater.

Been that way most of my life. Up until the age of 5 or so I'd eat most of what was put in front of me (except any kind of sea food - get that shit away from me now.) In other words, I was fairly omnivorous for a middle class kid raised in the 70s before the cornucopia of food choices that are common today became generally available at your neighborhood grocery store.

I'm not sure what changed or why, but I can roughly pinpoint when I started cutting things out of my diet. First to go was beef; I have distinct memories of relishing thin slices of rare, grilled steak (in fact I still find the smell if it delicious), but somewhere around kindergarten you couldn't pay me to eat it anymore. Then went veal, and then pork and bacon and hot dogs, until the only things left to be offered were ordinary poultry (chicken and turkey) from the meat category of food. It should probably go without saying that most vegetables were - literally and figuratively speaking - off the table as well.

I'm the only person I know who has never eaten a hamburger.

When I was a kid, my parents tried all kinds of trickery and reverse psychology to make me eat things I didn't want to, and honestly - without blaming them for being the cause of my picky eating, because obviously they weren't - they definitely didn't make anything better (if encouraging me to broaden my palate was their objective), and they certainly made things worse. I've heard all the stupid come-ons that were intended to convince me to try a different food: "We made this just for you!" "It tastes just like chicken." "It IS chicken." And onward to actual outright humiliation in front of others, into my teen years. It's pretty fucked up, if you think about it. I never expected anybody to make a special meal for me, or sympathize with me, or even understand me. All I wanted was to be left the hell alone - I eat my thing, you eat your thing. What's it to you, anyway? At the end of this meal we will both have eaten something, and we will go on to live another day. The balance of the universe isn't going to be thrown out of whack because I won't eat a fried egg.

Then it got to the point where I was old enough to be in social situations without my parents there to lovingly mock my eating habits, but that opened a whole new can of peanut butter. For one thing, I didn't want to have to create a whole fiction about myself that would explain away my food choices. I could tell people I was vegetarian, except that I'm not. I could tell people I had an allergy to this or that food, except that I don't. So instead I endured a whole new round of questioning and innuendo and well-meaning persuasion from increasingly large groups of people, fobbing squiggly foods onto my plate. It was stressful (it IS stressful), but it was my row to hoe, as they say.

There have been some benefits to this, though. For one, I never really acquired much of a taste for fast food, because chicken didn't start appearing widely on those menus until I was 13 or 14. And, though the actual list of foods that I'll eat is small compared to most people, I'll basically eat any cuisine with those items in it, so I'm not in a chicken fingers / fries / grilled cheese rut like you might expect. Honestly, the only thing I feel any remorse about now is that I don't eat as many kinds of vegetables as I should, but I'll never feel any shame that I won't eat a shrimp, or a slice of ham, or a scoop of pate -- nor would I give anybody any grief about eating those things (well except for shrimp, because they are bugs), because I know how it feels to have my eating choices vilified.

While I can't say I'm jealous of foodies, I am rather in awe of them, of that sort of fearlessness. And then I consider all the heart clogging pork fat doing its wonders on their arteries, and I'm kinda like...gotcha, suckas.
posted by contessa at 9:43 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I actually want to be a foodie. I'd love to fearlessly try things, but I'm just not that good at it. My wife has found a new izakaya near us, and she loves going there. Very cheap, mostly because the guy uses stuff most people would toss out or wouldn't think of buying. One recent favorite of my wife's: baby eels.

I go with her sometimes, and watch her eat food I couldn't handle, and sit there, munching on the food they offer that I'm able to deal with, like raw horse, chicken necks, and deep-fried octopus. Of course, if 15 year old me saw that list, he'd freak out. I still have quite a ways to go, and maybe some day I'll learn to like more stuff, but unfortunately, my in-laws are always pointing out that they do, indeed, have fried chicken at whatever restaurant we go to, to the point that it's embarrassing.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:22 PM on July 6, 2010


I remember watching one of Tony Bourdain's food/travel shows once, and part of the episode showed a few moments of him rolling around in his hotel room holding his guts. I remember the voiceover being something on the order of
Okay, if you want to be a food adventurer, you have to put up with those nights of gut-busting horror, when the new, glorious textures and tastes that have thrilled your mouth come face to face with digestive system wholly at odds with them, and the result is an evening of abdominal pain and diarrhea. Stinky cheese, weird fruit, the world-wide varieties of Let-it-rot-till-it's-edible cuisine... you want in on the magic, you gotta spend the odd night groaning in gut-twisting agony punctuated by wet-crapping yourself senseless*
Mmmm... food novelty for food novelty's sake. Sell me on it, Tony! ;-)

---
*I paraphrase
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:49 PM on July 6, 2010


I'll bet they have foods as broad and multifarious as cheese in lots of other countries. I've just never heard of them.

Oh indeed. Try shopping for ham in southern Spain. It has its own section in the big supermarkets. Hams from the prized pata negra (black foot) breeds are graded based on what they were fed. Those raised exclusively on acorns are the top grade.

Or land in Hong Kong when some seasonal South China Sea speciality is in season. (I lucked into hairy crab season passing through HK once; damn that was a feast.) Or spend some time in India during mango season. In some parts of the country, varieties vary village to village. Or check out the olive selection in almost any Mediterranean country. Or ask a Quebecois about grades of maple syrup. Or or or . . .

I mean, really, if there's any good reason for picky eating to go all DSM, it'd be because then maybe they'd develop a therapy so all those only-six-things-ever folks could discover the world of taste out there. Their disability is as limiting in its way as blindness.
posted by gompa at 11:20 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


almost all adult picky eaters like French fries and often chicken fingers

French fries and chicken fingers are the foods of the gods, that's why.

Salt, heat, grease, more salt. If you don't like these, the sole explanation is that you don't have a pulse.
posted by zippy at 11:53 PM on July 6, 2010


Tell me how you have made your children eat foods they didn't want to eat. Please, I want to know! It would really help us out around dinnertime.

I'm one of those people who were really picky as a kid and then snapped out of it when I became a teenager. I hated strong flavors back then, which was a pretty unlucky thing growing up in a Chinese household. Nearly everything my mom cooked had a bold umami flavor that was completely repulsive to me. The only things that didn't, like rice, were nasty to me in texture. My parents weren't about to let me eat whatever I wanted, though, so they tried lots of things. Shaming. Praising other kids who ate their food to the heavens while I squirmed in my seat. Bargaining. Forcing me to stay in my chair until I finished my dinner. And as you might guess, none of this worked. I was a skinny, skinny kid.

I had a special hatred for dumplings--the texture was all wrong, there were bits of unpleasant ginger and scallions lurking that you could still taste no matter how you soaked them in soy sauce...I would usually try to get away with eating the skins and mushing the filling together so that it would look like I'd eaten more than I had. To me, they were the embodiment of all that could go wrong with food.

And then one day, I made a friend. One of those friends you look up to as a little kid. I idolized her and wanted to be just like her. She was an adventurous person and wasn't afraid of anything. And she--ate her dumplings. Loved them. Normally I managed two or three before escaping to my room. Over dinner one night I watched her eat about ten. Amazing.

Well, the next time we all had dumplings together, I was choking them down like a champ. They still tasted horrible, but I'd found a reason to stop being "picky". After that I found I was able to eat lots of other foods as well; I figured the dumplings had done their worst and I'd lived through it so I might as well eat the other things, too.

These days I'll eat almost anything and like it; in fact I now wonder why my parents are so picky (my dad still won't eat raw scallions). Go figure.

Anyway the point of the story is that if your kids have a friend that they idolize, have them over for dinner. It might just help.
posted by millions of peaches at 12:42 AM on July 7, 2010


Okay, if you want to be a food adventurer, you have to put up with those nights of gut-busting horror [...] wet-crapping yourself senseless*

Meh, that's just third-world travel to me, where a severe stomach upset or two is accepted & assumed as part of the territory.

I would interpret his comments as being more about the inevitable hygiene issues you'll encounter when chasing after exotic food in exotic locales, and less about how 'strange' food will supposedly send your system into toxic shock.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:49 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


French fries and chicken fingers are the foods of the gods, that's why.

Salt, heat, grease, more salt. If you don't like these, the sole explanation is that you don't have a pulse.


I can't remember the last time I ate a chicken finger or a french fry. I don't hate them, they just don't do much for me. I would much rather have a fresh peach or home made garlic mashed potatoes with sherry gravy or chicken breast stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts. Life is too short for me to eat mediocre food.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:31 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I cannot eat bananas. I know it's not an allergy - cooked banana bread is fine - but anything that smells or tastes like raw banana makes me sick. I used to be fine with banana chips but after I ate some a couple of years ago and was sick for two days raw banana is out too. If anyone next to me is eating one I have to try really hard not to smell it and if the peel goes in the bin nearby I have to move.

I sometimes envy people who can eat them as they're nutritious and look filling. I also sometimes wonder what would happen if I was marooned on a desert island where bananas were the only native edible crop.

MrMippy is allergic to legumes, but didn;t know what 'allergy' really was, so until he was fourteen he just thought the swelling is what happened when he didn't like something. Which just made dinner ladies tell him 'If you don't like it, tough!' and make him eat his peas.
posted by mippy at 6:43 AM on July 7, 2010


Also, I am fine with ketchup on hot dogs and burgers, but if a chip has even touched a bit of ketchup it is no longer edible for me. I also can't stand butter in sandwiches, but it's fine on bread that I'm going to dip in soup. IT MAKES NO SENSE.
posted by mippy at 6:44 AM on July 7, 2010


"I used to bartend and occasionally ate the cocktail olives if there were no other food around, even though I didn't like them much. Still don't. I can tolerate them but the brine is just too much to really enjoy it."

krinklyfig, have you tried eating olives not pickled in brine? The ones in my fridge are preserved in sunflower oil. Weirdly, I loved black olives as a kid but far far prefer green now - black olives seem very sour now.
posted by mippy at 6:47 AM on July 7, 2010


mippy, it's entirely possible that you do have an allergy! Oral allergies often happen with raw, but not cooked fruits. If you have ragweed allergy, it's especially likely.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:48 AM on July 7, 2010


I can't remember the last time I ate a chicken finger or a french fry. I don't hate them, they just don't do much for me. I would much rather have a fresh peach or home made garlic mashed potatoes with sherry gravy or chicken breast stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts. Life is too short for me to eat mediocre food.

I worked at The Food Network back when it wasn't so lowbrow. With people like Alan Richman, Nina Griscom, David Rosengarten, Mario Baltali, Emeril Lagasse before he was just "Emeril" etc..

I was sitting in the break room one day and David Rosengarten walks in, plunks a few quarters into the vending machine and he grabs a Drake's Coffee Cake.

He sat with me and we were talking about the show or whatever and then he derailed and just starting waxing poetic about how great the Drake's Coffee Cake was-- how the streusel top had just the right amount of cinnamon and the texture of the cake wasn't to rigid, etc.. He was really enjoying it.

So I say life is too short to not enjoy and appreciate the "mediocre" food once in a while.
posted by L'OM at 9:40 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh man, I miss David Rosengarten. He's on Twitter ("Gramercy Tavern in NY. Tonite. Seriously: the best-cooked peas I have EVER eaten, each large pea a juicy, crunchy explosion. Run! It's July!"), had a Tumblr blog for a while, and a new web site is under construction, but he doesn't have a sustained media presence right now. You can try YouTube for bits and pieces, but there's nothing like Taste on tv any more.
posted by maudlin at 9:52 AM on July 7, 2010


I liked your comment, L'OM, but find it pretty funny that they have vending machines at the Food Network.
posted by TedW at 10:02 AM on July 7, 2010


Life is too short for me to eat mediocre food.

Agreed. But the perfect french fry is a thing of rare and delicious beauty - a balance of crisp and creamy, good potato flavor, the right amount of salt....now I have a craving.
posted by rtha at 10:22 AM on July 7, 2010


I miss the old mcdonalds french fries. (James Beard and Julia Child loved them too) They changed the recipe (originally they were made with beef tallow) to 100% vegetable oil in 1990 and they haven't been the same. Wendy's fries have always been flabby and bland and never seem hot enough, and burger king's fries taste artificial.

Gladwell - The Trouble With Fries
posted by puny human at 11:01 AM on July 7, 2010


You know, both Wendy's and BK have new fries, and they're improved over the old ones but in a different style. And now I want McD's fries. Thanks.
posted by Night_owl at 11:09 AM on July 7, 2010


This has probably been said lots of times in the thread but CHRIST, discrimination is alive and well if you don't like the right kind of foods. Taste is subjective, if something tastes awful to you, it is buffoonery to imply that you should get over it and eat it anyway. If it's at bona fide mental disorder levels (ie. chicken fingers and french fries and pizza and nothing else), okay, I'll recognize that. But why is it okay to call these people children, make fun of them, and act all snide?
posted by tehloki at 3:22 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


He sat with me and we were talking about the show or whatever and then he derailed and just starting waxing poetic about how great the Drake's Coffee Cake was-- how the streusel top had just the right amount of cinnamon and the texture of the cake wasn't to rigid, etc.. He was really enjoying it.

So I say life is too short to not enjoy and appreciate the "mediocre" food once in a while.


It seems like your story has a different moral to the one you think it has.

It's not that mediocre food is OK; it's that (in this top chef guy's opinion) these cakes are not mediocre in the first place.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:02 PM on July 7, 2010


French fries and chicken fingers are the foods of the gods, that's why.

Salt, heat, grease, more salt. If you don't like these, the sole explanation is that you don't have a pulse.


I might be undermining my assertion that I'm not a picky eater, but I don't eat fast food fries anymore. I don't know why fast food places don't get it, but you can't leave a basket of frozen fries over the hot oil. When cooked, you get soggy fries that are saturated with oil. Ick. The grease is supposed to be on the outside of the fries. Sometimes I might get lucky during a lunch rush where they don't get a chance to leave a basket over the frier, but I just don't take that chance anymore. I used to avoid this by ordering fries no salt then ask for salt packets, but I always felt like an asshole so I stopped.
posted by effwerd at 6:44 PM on July 7, 2010


I was a picky eater as a kid, and my parents would do the "if you don't eat your dinner, you'll have it for breakfast" thing. I passed out from hunger more than a few times.

Man, I was hardcore.
posted by punchtothehead at 8:04 AM on July 8, 2010


But why is it okay to call these people children, make fun of them, and act all snide?

It's not, but until this thread, I had no inkling that people honestly couldn't handle certain foods - since, like many in this thread seem to misunderstand, we all dislike SOMETHING intensely (like someone else mentioned earlier, disliking one food does not make you a picky eater), and since many of us have disliked something intensely and then LIKED IT VERY MUCH later on, seeing someone who dislikes almost ALL food seems to be someone who isn't trying or is afraid of what we find to be very pleasurable.

I LOVE food. Food is a huge part of what makes life worth living. I'm serious about that. And it's absolutely sad to me that there are people who only eat 5 or so things, who only ENJOY such a limited amount of food. If they're happy, that's great, but I can't help but feel they are missing out. And that is where the majority of people are coming from. I will try to be more understanding to people's preferences in the future, but goshdarn if I don't hope that there's a "cure" for this for the people who would rather be different and taste all that the world has to offer.
posted by agregoli at 8:24 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


It seems like your story has a different moral to the one you think it has.

It's not that mediocre food is OK; it's that (in this top chef guy's opinion) these cakes are not mediocre in the first place.


IN the U.S. Drake's is a compnay that makes cheap dessert foods like coffee cakes and twinkies. It's classic junk food. Has been for decades.
posted by L'OM at 8:11 AM on July 9, 2010


"Life is too short for me to eat mediocre food."

I think that's the difference, in a nutshell. On one hand, you have people who say what you said. On the other, you have those who say: "Life is too short to care about something that is going to be shit in 6 hours."

Though they may not say it in precisely those words.

All of this is pretty well divorced from the DSM definition in the FPP, but I hope my comments (despite harsh? language) have provided a window into the mindset of someone who is not like you (I mean, how would you feel if people were going on and on about scented gasolines? Like those people were crazy, right? That was the point; not whether or not your car has tastebuds).
posted by Eideteker at 8:27 AM on July 9, 2010


"Life is too short to care about something that is going to be shit in 6 hours."

See, to me, that means, why bother looking at something beautiful, like a sunset? It's going to be gone soon. Etc. Why enjoy anything at all? Food, since it affects one of our senses, isn't merely fuel - it's part of life's rich experience. It seems like some picky eaters might not care about food because they are unable to experience it with an average human palate, so I hope that it's something we might be able to rectify in the future.
posted by agregoli at 4:39 PM on July 9, 2010


An awful lot of things are ephemeral. Take a long enough view, and everything is ephemeral. Why read poetry? Why study biology or engineering? Whatever you invent or discover or write will be superseded at some point - eventually, it will vanish altogether.

I don't care about scented gasoline because except for the five minutes or so every week or ten days, I don't smell it. It also doesn't have any sort of social context - I don't go to gas stations for special occasions; I don't invite people over to come with me to the gas station to fill up the car.

I care about good food in part because I have memory. It might completely horrify some of you, but there's a whole bunch of my brain that is chock full of memories of delicious things I've eaten, tasted, and imbibed. Going along with the memories of specific foods I ate are memories of where I was, and who I was with, and a whole lot of other stuff. Not every meal is like this. I am unlikely to remember the specific burrito I had for dinner the other night in another week. But I will know that I prefer to go to this taqueria and not that taqueria because I prefer the burritos from this taqueria.

I trust that even those of you who take more of the food-as-fuel view have food preferences - you'd rather have chocolate cake for your birthday than carrot cake (for instance); you don't like red wines that are too tannic/too sweet; you really like the homefries at that one place better than homefries at any other place. You're somewhere on the continuum, just like all of us.
posted by rtha at 5:25 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


IN the U.S. Drake's is a compnay that makes cheap dessert foods like coffee cakes and twinkies. It's classic junk food. Has been for decades.

Sure, but they obviously got at least that one cake right. Like the way that - whatever else one might think of McDonalds - their fries really are spot on.

I'd read the story as being about how good things sometimes come from unexpected places, not that it's a great idea to embrace mediocrity for its own sake.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:43 AM on July 10, 2010


rtha, well said! There's a certain file in my brain titled "Foods I can never enjoy again." The discontinued Black Bean/jalepeno bread from the bakery that I cannot duplicate. The cold Chinese noodle salad that my ex-husband makes. My grandmother's Chicken Paprikash that differs in some small way from the recipe she left behind. I have a vivid memory of these foods and more-- the texture, the flavor, the smell, the sight. That first bite. French fries from MacDonald's don't leave me with those feelings but maybe I just don't care for fries.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:37 AM on July 10, 2010


now that i think about it, it must've been years since i even had mcd's fries, so i have no idea why i was rhapsodising over them. but damn, do i miss the estonian sweet-sour bread from the long-defunct riga bakery...
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:38 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a certain file in my brain titled "Foods I can never enjoy again."

I had a bowl of pasta dressed with olive oil, garlic, and parmesan at the Florence train station when I was ten. It remains one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten, and I have never been able to duplicate it.
posted by rtha at 10:46 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm finding homemade thick oven fries are the cat's ass. Thick wide white strips of ordinary brown potatoes (russets), but most anything will do. Tossed in olive oil, assalted, and peppered. Toss 'em in the toaster oven. Flip once. I should suggest slices of new nugget potatoes. Those buggers are great skewered & grilled.

Anyhoo, good fries was my point. Although if deep-fry is your thing, I like New York Fries' franchies. Which afaik are just fresh-sliced russets deep-fried for a short time. Pretty pure food carbs, all in all.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:10 PM on July 10, 2010


I'm finding homemade thick oven fries are the cat's ass.

*blink*

....I would have thought that describing something as "the cat's ass" was a bad thing. .....Is it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:09 AM on July 13, 2010


My cat seems to love its ass. I assume it thinks it tastes as good as french fries.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:44 AM on July 13, 2010


Is that a deep field Spinnwebe reference or am I seeing things?
posted by The Whelk at 7:46 AM on July 13, 2010


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