Thursday, August 2, 2012

Picky Palates & Fussy Eaters!

This post idea originated while having a conversation with a new acquaintance. She mentioned starting something called Whole 30.  You may or may not be familiar with it but it is pretty much like the cleanses I have done except without the cleanse part ;)... you just get whole, natural foods. You are basically "resetting" your body and breaking bad habits like empty carbs, sodas, junk food, etc..  If you don't know the ingredient in something you ought not eat it. 

Anyway the conversation ended up going something like this:

Friend: "I'm starting Whole 30 next week with some friends."
Me: "Oh that's awesome! I have done something like that. I have some great recipes you can have."
Friend: "Oh really I would love that!"
Me: "Are you familiar with Spaghetti Squash?"
Friend: "Oh, I don't like that."
Me: "hmmm, okay well have you ever had red cabbage?"
Friend: "Yeah I think so, I don't think I like it."
Me: "well a great snack is fresh pico de gallo, I would eat it every day."
Friend: "Oh I don't like pico at all."
Me: "oh well what do you like?"
Friend: "Biscuits."
Me: "...I give up..."  (I wish her all the best on this adventure though)

I don't consider myself a picky eater. I will always eat anything served to me (including the things I don't care for); I only have a few things that I would rather not eat and they are generally not good for me so I don't worry about not liking them.  Example:  Fried Chicken and most pies (I like Pecan) but I have sort of noticed recently that it is more common for people to have a list of  things they don't like to eat than to like most everything. (I'm not talking about food allergies or sensitivities here)

I started looking into this a bit and found this quote by Paul Rozin, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania

He also said, "I see aversions as obstacles worth fighting to overcome," which is definitely how I view food and beyond that most things in life (but that's another post)He goes on to say, 
"History is full of stories of ordinary people who refused to eat unfamiliar food. The first colonists to America faced this predicament, myths of the first Thanksgiving to the contrary. They "had come upon a land of plenty," according to Eating in America, by Waverley Root and Richard de Rochemont. "They nearly starved in it." Why? Because among other things, they "could not or would not adapt themselves to the foods available locally...and elected instead to depend on supplies from England." Close to death, many awaited shipments of English beef rather than swallow a morsel of lobster or a clam. The few among them who trusted the natives eventually provided a bridge to these strange new forms of sustenance.
It sounds perverse, until you consider what you would do if you washed up on the shores of Cheju island and were offered a meal of sautéed silkworm pupae. You, too, might bide your time, hoping for a box of Cap'n Crunch to float in on the waves. 
But I must confess that my tolerance for odd foods sometimes makes me intolerant of other people's aversions to them, and that's not fair.*"
*the scratch out is my editing - I think it's fair... I don't think we should be so picky.

So what I've found in doing just a little research is some people are biologically predispositioned to be more sensitive to bitterness as well as to trying new foods.  So I can give someone the bitterness thing... if you don't like brussel sprouts I won't judge you (too harshly)  but the aversion to trying new foods... well I guess... I'll chalk it up to not being able to relate cause I don't have that problem.  I mean yes I too would cringe if I was served sauteed silkworm pupae (I googled this and couldn't bring myself to even post a pic - so gross)...but I would like to think that I would at least try one if others were eating it.

So here is the real issue....I think it goes back to the very first quote I started with by Professor Rozin, if our food tastes are have become as unique as our fingerprints it is no wonder that eating together is sometimes just as difficult as being in fellowship with others. (If you live in fellowship/community with people you know what this means...there are challenges, trials, hurts just as much as there is joy, kinship, acceptance)

When I started thinking about this blog post the last thing I figured is that it would turn into a sort of commentary about community but the more I looked into our eating qualms the more I saw a correlation between the society I live in and the challenges of being human and having relationships.  I won't go into all my thoughts on this because it wasn't the purpose of this post but it is very interesting.

But seriously I first noticed this when entertaining friends.  I like to cook and having lots of friends with little kiddos so being home is often much easier than the chaos of taking the kid out to eat as well it is healthier which is "a win-win".  So we cook... but if you get to many people together it becomes quite interesting.  

For example: 
(this scenario contains 6 adults:  3 men and 3 women - all our friend nothing is made up and it is quite possible that eating with all of us would happen. My minor dislikes are included, to be fair, and highlighted.)

Here is the list of dislikes:

Anything too ethnic
Fish - except maybe Tilapia
Deviled Eggs
Blue Cheese
Cream Cheese
Sour Cream
Fried Chicken
Fake sugar
Veggies - yeah all of them unless covered in cheese
(can you imagine if I listed all these)
Whole Wheat breads
French toast
Mint flavor
Sour flavor
Pies - except Pecan
Meat on Pizza
Any kind of casserole
Anything that doesn't look "normal" (i.e. purple new potato)

haha those black looking potatoes can freak some folks out ;) LOL

Another interesting thing to note:  I asked my 5 friends for their list of dislikes and I was quite surprised that I could think of more things (from our experiences together) that they didn't like than they could think of off the top of their head.  I guess when you don't like something - you just don't eat it so you don't really think about it... or something like that.

Well anyway, it pretty much leaves us to eat steak and potatoes every time we cook together.... or hamburgers cause you can trick them out the way you want them.  This can be quite a woe for someone like me who enjoys finding new recipes and serving fancy food. :/
That's all for now.  Try something new this week.


  1. AHhh!!! This is totally me with our friends. I will eat anything and never make a big deal if there is something I dont like. The only big no is Bananas but usually they are only in one dish and I just don't eat it. But its starting to get to annoying with folks who basically want meat & potatoes and wont try other things.

    I also try to accommodate people in there issues, but now as a mom of an allergy its kinda starting to annoy me that people get annoyed when I tell them about HM being allergic to eggs. I am not asking to change the menu but asking if it will be in the food so I can bring her something else. They seem offended. You can tell me you don't like onions and garlic but are offended when I tell you my kid is allergic to eggs. I mean I carry an epipen... its not a dislike. Okay, off my soap box, this is just annoying me lately.

  2. Oh wow Amy, an egg allergy is such a hard one to have as it impacts so much but I totally agree with you that having an allergy to a food is completely different than a dislike especially when an epi-pen is involved! I have a few food sensitivities but I do my best to eat little of them and rotate them so that if they are served I don't have to worry about being picky but when you can't help it... you can't help it. Sorry you have felt it to be a sore subject among your friends.

  3. AMEN! I think food "dislikes" can be really selfish. I used to be a picky eater and then I moved to China. I knew it was offensive if I didn't eat everything that was served to me, so I did. ALWAYS. Blood soup? Mmmmm. Chicken feet? Delish. When I came back to the states I decided that if I could handle those foods, surely I could handle veggies. Also, if I cared enough about my Chinese friends to eat their food, why would I make fellowship and friendship harder in the US by being picky? I totally don't mind people having a few foods they don't prefer, but when the list gets long its hard for me not to get frustrated.

  4. I don't know if I have commented on your blog before, but this is Courtney Lundsett. C-Ray was my nickname in college and its still on my google account.

  5. Hey Courtney! It is funny how many C-Ray's there are out there ;)

    I have never been served blood soup and that scares me a little to think about but it is crazy how the luxuries we have here are so great that being picky about our food is common place and accepted.