Picky eaters...

Being a gourmand myself, I am confused by picky eaters. I’ll eat just about anything, and even the things I thought I wouldn’t like I usually did. Brussels sprouts and uncooked egg yolks are the only foods that come to mind that I really don’t like, but I don’t find them so disgusting that if I were served that at someone’s house I couldn’t eat a few bites not to be rude.

I’ll admit, picky eaters annoy me. My BF is one of the pickiest eaters I know- he won’t eat tomatoes, onions on pizza, sausage, potatoes, spinach, bell peppers, pork, any beverage other than sweet tea (NO lemon) or milk, chocolate (by itself- he’ll eat it in things or eat brownies), and probably a number of things I don’t know about. He doesn’t really eat fruit, he sneers at gourmet food, and if he had his druthers he’d eat nothing but Hot Pockets and pudding all day, and anything else smothered in hot sauce. It’s annoying for me because I like just about everything, and I like to try new things. I also like to cook, but having to remember that he won’t eat this or that gets really frustrating.

So, picky eaters, please explain yourselves*. I want to know why you find so many foods offensive. Is it taste, texture, smell, all 3? I’ve heard of super-tasters, but that doesn’t seem to explain all picky eaters. I knew someone who would only eat food smothered in ketchup, but if you can taste things I can’t I don’t understand how ketchup is what you’d want to taste all the time. What will you eat, and why? What won’t you eat, and why? Have you actually tried the foods you refuse to eat? Are you willing to try it prepared a different way to see if you like it better? My sister is also a picky eater, but she refuses to try anything new, which I find even more frustrating.

Help me empathize, so I don’t get offended when he turns his nose up at baked brie or pours hot sauce all over the chicken I spent all day cooking.

*I mean really really picky. Like if the list of stuff you do eat is shorter than the list of what you won’t.

I like what I like, dammit. I don’t feel the need to try different foods. It’s very true, I could be missing something that I love more than crab legs (simply not possible) but I feel that it’s unlikely. Besides, if I go and try something new, that means I’m not having crab legs, which is what I really wanted in the first place.

Pudding sounds kinda good right now, actually…

I know exactly what you mean. I completely understand that people don’t like this or that, what I boggle at is the notion that because you don’t like it, you’ll scream and throw a fit if you even see it.

I’ll eat just about anything. There are things I don’t really like, but I’ll still eat them if I need to - either to be polite or because I’m hungry - where does this idea come from that just because you don’t like it, you won’t eat it under any circumstances? It’s not normal.

But only if it’s Crab Pudding?

I think we’ve had similar threads in the past and, if I recall correctly, none of them ended without some kind of an argument breaking out. Fun!

Anyway, I used to be a really picky eater. As in, I wouldn’t eat any food that wasn’t breakfast cereal, or a peanut butter & jelly sandwhich. For most of my childhood those were my edibles of choice and I was unwavering in my resolve not to try anything else.

I remember my mom spending large amounts of time and effort in the kitchen, preparing new, delicious dishes for her family and I’d flat out refuse to even taste one bite. Instead I’d go make myself a PB&J or pour a bowl of Chex.

But I was never exactly rude about it. My parents were pushovers; they may have smirked or raised an eyebrow when I made my own dinner, though apart from that they never gave indication that they cared. And if I was at someone else’s house I’d just feign stomach cramps or simply pretend to eat whatever was on my plate. There was no “EW, what’s that?! I’m not eating that.” (That may have something more to do with how very shy I was–we’ll never know now.)

Looking back, I think I prob’ly should’ve been given a good smack or two. Now I will try anything and EVERYTHING. Bring it on. I love tasting new, more exotic foods. Picky children don’t always grow into picky adults.

Also, OP, I don’t know if this will work with your boyfriend, but my aunt had a child who was an extremely finicky eater and to cure her of this she would make food that the girl ordinarily refused (e.g. broccoli, spinach, potatoes), not offer to share and go off into another room and eat it. Sooner or later my neice would wander in, wanting to know what my aunt was eating and if SHE could have some, too. Worked every time.

I distinguish between two different types of picky eaters.

There are the ones you mention, who sort all ingredients into “lists” of things they will and won’t eat.

Then there’s another kind, which is me, who will eat almost anything if I (or another cook with tastes like mine) prepares it, but I will turn up my nose at many things. Things I won’t eat, not for health reasons but for taste reasons, include:

  • overcooked vegetables / pasta / just about anything overcooked, in fact
  • overseasoned things (particularly things seasoned with MSG or too much salt)
  • mashed up things (creamed corn, mushy peas)
  • things limp with grease (fast food hamburgers, deep fried things cooked improperly or left to sit, etc)
  • things soaked in salad dressing or dairy product
  • almost anything boiled (boiled chicken is the most disgusting thing there is to me, with boiled vegetables a solid second place)
  • canned vegetables

Some people consider me to be a picky eater because they always see me turn down offerings of the above. (I once reacted with physical horror as I watched a boyfriend destroy a perfectly good head of broccoli by turning it into some mushy greyish substance. Ugh.) Over the years I have had dozens of roommates and have thus been exposed to lots and lots of food preparation that makes heavy use of the above techniques, so I know that a lot of people don’t share my disgust with the above-listed food preparation methods.

And it’s not like I’m a food snob, I love me some ramen noodles and rice-a-roni and pepperoni sticks.

I just like it prepared well.

Here we go again…

There are foods that I just don’t like the taste of. I’m willing to try anything once, but if I didn’t like the other potato salads, chances are, I’m not going to like yours either. Unlike others, I eat to survive, and I don’t place the importance on food that some seem to. If you decline my offer of food, I don’t take that as an insult, and was surprised to learn from other threads just how important this topic is to some people.

ETA, **Cowgirl ** brings up a great point. Is it pickiness if you just don’t like badly prepared food? I’m the same way. My extended family looks down on me because I don’t really care for foods that are dripping in grease, but I will try it. They won’t even consider trying things like sushi, so which people are more close minded food wise? Honestly I don’t really care, what they eat, but I do bring that point up when someone brings up my “pickiness”.

I dislike almost all condiments/toppings - jams, jellies, mayo, mustard, gravy, ketchup, guacamole, dressings, stuffing, sour cream, pesto. I don’t like eggplant, asparagus, cauliflower, apple pie, cheesecake, pickles, mushrooms, clam chowder, crab, lobster, fried or poached eggs, hummus, walnuts, cherries, pineapple, most cheeses. I don’t like most foods that consist of other foods mixed together - sandwiches, potato salad, “ambrosia.”

I have added foods to my repertoire, as an adult. Milk, orange juice, oatmeal, pizza, salsa, cooked spinach, almonds, French toast, macaroni & cheese, lasagna.

My situation is compounded by Oral Allergy Syndrome , which basically takes all fresh fruits and vegetables (and their freshly squeezed juices) off my edibles list. I can eat a small quantity of a few fresh things, if I don’t let them touch my lips.

The issue is maybe 30% taste, 70% texture. I say this because there are a number of fruits that I dislike even though I’ll drink their (pasteurized) juices by the gallon - grape, blueberry, orange, pomegranate. Also, I like the flavor of onion, and wouldn’t make soup without it, but can’t abide actual chunks of it in my food.

Case in point: fresh tomatoes. I grow them. I know they are far superior to supermarket tomatoes. I share them with others, who tell me they are delicious. I am very proud of them. I dream all winter about planting them and obsess about the seedlings all spring. They are beautiful, and this city girl is still excited every time she produces actual food out there on her balcony. Every year I try to eat some of the cherry tomatoes. This year I was especially looking forward to the Sungolds, little yellow-orange jewels. The bf eats them like candy. I’ve eaten them on three separate occasions this summer. Yuck, yuck, and yuck. Sigh.

I’m ridiculously healthy, by the way. I was 37 the last time I was carded, and was recently mistaken for my foster-daughter’s schoolmate. I have excellent teeth, usually only 1 or 2 bouts of cold/flu per year, blood pressure & other physical readings of a person ten years younger, etc., so I personally have no problem with they way I eat.

When I am with others, and they have gotten me into a fancy restaurant or at the table of someone who has labored over the meal, I will at least try something, and try to finish what’s in front of me, but not if it threatens to make me throw up, and I won’t be asking for the recipe. If questioned, I emphasize that I am with these people for their company, and that the food is secondary. My mother never fussed over my food one way or another, either at home or when we were out. Neither of us ever asked or expected that something be made especially for me. She stated quite plainly that I would find something to eat, and I wasn’t going to starve, and she was right. I have had the experience exactly once (at a restaurant in NYC) of going somewhere and leaving hungry.

My grandmother is one who smothers everything she eats in ketchup. I do not understand it, but that’s how she’s been eating for the last 91 years, and there’s not a damn thing I can do to change it.
We’re not picky eaters at our house, though. I love to try new things, and so do my husband and our daughter. My sister and my mother are very picky. Mom won’t eat anything that contains beans or vegetables. My sister and her son seem to survive on hot dogs and chips, and their weight shows it!
I think you can be picky if you at least give whatever you’re presented a try. I consider a ‘try’ at least 3 bites. After that, if you still don’t care for it, then fine. Don’t eat it. But at least give it a chance!
Some folks have no idea what they’re missing out on, by being so closed-minded to new foods and new tastes!

Like you , I only abhor Brussel sprouts and cooked carrots. But dang, in that bolded portion your boyfriend sounds like a wimp. Seriously? Sausage, potatoes, bell peppers, pork? My Og, how can you stand it?

Now, I can see one sneering at gourmet food, meat and potatoes are enough to satisfy me, but onions and sausage are the food of the gods. Bell peppers add a nice zest to meatloaf and spinach is wonderful with cheddar cheese. Next to beef, pork is my heavenly delight. And I will take chocolate in ANY variety.

Say, RedRoses, how 'bout you come live with my husband and me? :smiley:

That’s a really good question. I had a reputation for being a picky eater as a kid because I didn’t (and don’t) like most of the crap people tended to feed kids in the mid-1980s – Wonder bread, bologna, hot dogs, Kraft singles, Day-Glo orange mac and cheese. There are a few things that I disliked as a kid but like now – I used to find tomatoes too acidic – and I’m more willing to choke down things I dislike as an adult, but by and large, my tastes haven’t changed all that much, and nobody would call me a picky eater as an adult. It’s just that no one expects adults to like elementary-school cafeteria food, and twenty-odd years later we’re used to getting fresher and better food. (I was probably in my teens before I discovered that I didn’t dislike bread, because when I was a kid, bread was mass-produced and loaded with preservatives and came in plastic bags … period.)

I’m not a picky eater by choice, but my body is forcing me to be a very picky eater. I think the list of what I can eat is now shorter than the list of what I can’t.

So, I’d recommend non-picky eaters just to start thinking of picky eaters as being like me. Then you’ll just feel like patting them on the head and saying “Poor dear” rather than like strangling them with al dente whole wheat spaghetti.

I can be picky at times although I do eat a wide variety of foods - I figure that its probably an inbuilt trait. Being picky is a good thing, you eat the foods you know won’t kill you and thus you survive to have descendants. I don’t particularly feel the need to go eating loads of weird foods which might not agree with me. Taste has very little to do with this perception.

Most of the foods I won’t eat have a certain texture which I find absolutely disgusting. It could probably be described as a solid which turns to mush. Think bananas, baked beans/legumes etc. I don’t mind the taste of many of these foods but the texture makes me choke and retch. I’m also sometimes a little picky over eating meat but that’s more about my perceptions of hygiene wrt to the place I’m eating at. If I’m going to be eating unfamiliar cuisine I’d prefer to have something vegetarian since its harder to handle veggies so badly that you cause food poisoning.

I also don’t get the idea that when you don’t like the taste of something you should eat it anyway. What’s up with that? I trust my body to let me know what’s good for it, if something that other people lap up like yumyums tastes bad to me then there’s probably some good reason for it. What’s to be gained by suffering something which tastes bad when there are plenty of other foods available?

As others have said, good preparation is important. I love carrots in any format except boiled for half an hour and turned to goo which happens to be the way my mother treats all vegetables. As a child I was called extremely picky - I wasn’t, I was just revolted by poor cooking. Many of the foods I refused as a child I have tried as an adult when either I’ve prepared them or somebody who can cook has prepared them. Many I enjoy. There’s no improving brussel sprouts though.

The annoying thing about picky eaters is not so much the eating itself, but the complaining and demands. I might think that a picky eater is weird or that they’re unnecessarily limiting themselves, but as long as they’re not rude about it, no problem. They probably think some of my choices and habits are weird too.

It’s when you try to share a meal with someone, and they respond with “Well, if you’re making burritos, make sure to put the cheese on the side because I might not want any, and also I only like red peppers, not yellow, and onions are okay if they’re still crispy, I don’t like soft onions… and oh yeah, my boyfriend doesn’t like burritos at all, so maybe you could just order him a pizza, he only likes Domino’s, and make sure there’s no olives on it…” People with that kind of attitude should just stay home and spare the rest of us.

I guess it’s like any other social activity… it won’t be catered to your exact preferences every time. And you can either have a good attitude and make a go of it, or annoy everyone else by demanding your way.

My mom told us that if we were eating at someone’s house and we didn’t like something they served, to say we were allergic to it…that way, we wouldn’t have to eat it, and the host wouldn’t get their feelings hurt.

Of course, it only works if there’s just a few things you don’t like, and if they aren’t “obvious” things that kids typically don’t like, such as spinach. Say you’re allergic to spinach, and the adults KNOW you’re trying to scam them!

People have caught on to that trick, which can cause a lot of headaches for those of us who really have food allergies. “Are you sure, you can’t eat it, or do you just hate it?” “Come on, it’s not like it’ll *kill * you to try it, right?”

I’m surprised at that, considering that some allergies are actually deadly!

Forgive my mom, this was back in the 70s, before the general public was as educated about allergies as people seem to be now.

I can’t answer the questions you ask, but I can say that it is going to take a lot of patience and understanding on your part to live with a picky eater. I am like you–bring it on! is my battle cry–and my husband is a very picky eater. It can get really, really frustrating for me, as I love to cook, but am very limited in the ingredients I can use if I want him to eat it. What has helped me keep my sanity is remembering a conversation we had in which he admitted that he didn’t like being a picky eater, but didn’t know how to overcome the fact that lots of things don’t taste “nice” (he is British) to him.

After 5 years, he has added a few foods to the list of what he will eat: green beans, corn (both cut and on the cob!), and grean peas. Five years of patient trying on my part, five years of tasting on his.

I was almost exactly like Clockwork And Candy as a kid. Absolutely mortified at the thought of eating at someone else’s house for fear that they’d serve something I didn’t like, because I didn’t want to seem rude by not eating all of their meal. I didn’t and still don’t like red meat, hot dogs, most pork… and this still puts me in awkward situations as an adult. And I’m still totally mortified of eating at a stranger’s place.

The sad part is that I now have a diplomatic job, and spend much time in other countries, where I’m expected to eat other people’s food. And hate hate hate it. Russain food? The absolute worst. German food? Pretty bad. I’ll always eat something on the plate, but often won’t eat any part of the dish. Recently I was offered reindeer. Couldn’t even take a bite. Ate all of the other stuff, but felt so guilty because I couldn’t touch the reindeer, which was so proudly served by our hosts. I hate that guilt, and I hate the vague social dread I feel before a meal.

Which brings me to another sad aspect: with things like red meat, I don’t want to like it. I mean, the smell, texture, look, and taste are all revolting to me. But there’s a large part of me that simply likes not liking red meat. Compared to other meats, it’s pretty bad for you. So there’s a part of me that’s too stubborn to force food down my throat and try not to gag so as to not offend people. And to those people that argue that I should at least try foods I haven’t tried before, I say this: why should I, if either the look or (even more so) the smell are offensive to me? Just because there’s a slim chance I might like the taste? I’m the kind of guy that enjoys eating, and enjoys the smell, texture, and look of the food being eaten. I won’t enjoy eating something with a foul smell. I totally respect those people that can do it, and I’m just as confused with how you guys do it as you are of how I won’t do it.

And if it matters, my tastes have definitely broadened as an adult. I love just about any seafood, any chicken, pastas, chinese, thai, sushi… so there is a ton of stuff out there which I’m happy to eat, but I’m still labeled as picky because I won’t eat red meat.

Reading up on preview, I’d rather eat nothing than state a bunch of demands like Autumn Almanac describes. I hate that, too.

I don’t have an allergy, but I’m willing to go into graphic detail about precisely what the foods in question will do to me. :smiley:

Edited to add: Not on here, but in person, if someone got up in my face about it. I think their passion to get me to eat it would die a sudden and horrific death.