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Food Aversions, Phobias, and Disorders


Heather
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I am interested in what self-professed food lovers find gross, or are scared to eat. And I am not looking for obvious answers like McDonalds or Miracle Whip, or for people getting abused by everyone saying "I can't BELIEVE you don't like that! It's the best EVER!"

I'll start. Whole fruits make me nervous. I hate biting into whole fruits; anything larger than a strawberry almost always gets cut up. And bad or mushy spots completely squick me out. I don't recall having any traumatic worm in my apple episodes as a kid, so there's no telling where this came from.

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Hot dogs. Fried foods- I really am not a fan. Maybe b/c they make me nauseous afterwards. Any type of tongue, brain, cheek.... freaks me out. I used to be terrified of squid/octopus tentacles, but I've since learned. Marbled fat...Also eyeballs left in whole fish- ew!

I also had a particularly traumatic experience when discovering that my French host mother (by way of Columbia, for full disclosure) decided to leave all of the internal organs in the rabbit she had cooked, resulting in the unpleasant taste of lung.

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I generally have an aversion to organ meats as such, but chicken/duck/goose liver I can deal with, depending on how it's prepared. The various giblets from a turkey put into a stuffing or gravy are okay too.

The only food I ate in childhood that still grosses me out is yellow wax beans. My mother generally stuck with fresh or frozen vegetables, but for some reason, she served canned wax beans. I found them really disgusting, and I still have never tried fresh ones. Sometimes when I see them in the market, I think I should get over this, and maybe someday I'll buy some.

I also have a bit of a squeamishness about Greek restaurant food from a persistent negative association. When I was in Greece for several weeks during college, I got really sick (respiratory type illness, very high fever) and truly thought I was going to die. I had a really hard time eating, and all of the food seemed to contain a large amount of olive oil, which really turned my stomach. I couldn't even look at it. I lived on coca-cola and nescafe, as they seemed to be the only things without olive oil in them. I love olive oil and mediterranean food, but there's something about going into a Greek restaurant that triggers the reaction. I can manage it, but it's not what I seek out.

In contrast, I once got very sick after eating shrimp tempura but have eventually been able to get back to eating tempura battered foods.

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Shad roe. I'm going to try and break my phobia this season. But right now, I'm apprehensive since it looks like a combination of raspberry-orange sherbert, a sex organ, and gelatinous monster that will grow in your refrigerator, ooze out, and suffocate you while you're in bed asleep.

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I'd also curious about any dislikes or phobias that have been successfully cured, and how that happened. :o

For scallops, I just kept trying a little bite from someone else's plate.

However, the key was to ONLY get them at places where you know they will be prepared well. I think a lot of dislikes are due to to having an unfortunate 1st experience with a poorly prepared version of something.

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I don't like carraway seeds.

Not a fan of watermelon.

Up until a few months ago, I used to not like olives. Don't know how I "cured" myself. Perhaps I actually started eating quality olives, instead of the crappy kind that appears on frozen pizzas. Much like JPW's assertion above.

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Green peas (like Bird's Eye frozen green peas) make me puke. Cauliflower no thanks. The one time I have chittlins was one of those experiences when I popped a piece in my mouth and my body immediately said, No.

Otherwise I'm pretty good to go.

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The one time I have chittlins was one of those experiences when I popped a piece in my mouth and my body immediately said, No.
That was my body's first reaction when I tasted the lamb tongues at St John last month. I love lamb, and knew it was a reaction to the idea and not the food, so I perservered and wound up loving the dish. It can be hard to overcome.
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For the longest time, I wouldn't eat any mushrooms - because every morning on the way to high school I had to drive by, and smell, a Monterey Mushrooms production facility. Mushroom factories smell very, very bad.

As far as the solution, I blame those fine gentlemen at Corduroy and Citronelle - there, the darn things smell too good NOT to eat. Enoki mushrooms in miso soup at various places also got me over the knee-jerk "eww, fungus" response.

Even after all that, I still can't bring myself to eat garden variety button or portabella mushrooms, since they're what came out of my local mushroom plant, and I know where they've been and what they were grown on.

Can't bring myself to eat tongue either, but that's a textural thing. (Dave ordered the lamb's tongue at St John and liked it as well, but didn't end up finishing it - that's an awful lot of tongue to get through even if it is in fairly small pieces!)

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I'd also curious about any dislikes or phobias that have been successfully cured, and how that happened. :o

As a child I had an intense phobia of mushrooms- I think it was the texture. Anyhow, it was cured because I finally convinced myself, as a teen, that chewing one wouldn't kill me. I also had a major fear of blueberries, after once biting one and seeing the green inside ooze out. I forced myself to eat one again many years later, and am so glad I did. Goes to show- only way to conquer fear is to face it head on!

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I took a class last night where we cooked Duck. I liked the taste, I liked the sauce, but the texture made me want to gag.

I second whoever said they don't like strong smelling, oily fish or Bivalves. I also enjoy well prepared scallops.

The night before my appendix went bad on me I made a huge batch of chewy buttery oatmeal cookies. For many years after that I could not eat that kind of oatmeal cookie at all. I could only eat the dry, cinammony ones. After about 15 years, my body gave up that association, though they're still not my favorites.

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I am not down with bananas.

Word. :o Don't like the taste. Don't like the texture. Don't like the smell. Don't like the way they look.

Also, sweet potatoes, coconut (although I can deal with coconut milk in limited quantites), pretty much any offal.

But nothing gets to me like bananas.

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That was my body's first reaction when I tasted the lamb tongues at St John last month. I love lamb, and knew it was a reaction to the idea and not the food, so I perservered and wound up loving the dish. It can be hard to overcome.

There was no overcoming this! made it to the garbage can in the kitchen just in time :o

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Word. :o Don't like the taste. Don't like the texture. Don't like the smell. Don't like the way they look.
A perfectly ripe banana is fine. Five minutes past perfectly ripe, they get this sickly smell and overly sweet taste.

I am not fond of dates for similar reasons - sickly sweet smell and taste.

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Brussel sprouts. My mom once made me eat three before I got up from the table and I still cannot quite forgive her.

Any part of the animal that is not really "meat" such as liver or tongue.

Oysters and salmon.

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Green beans, haricot verts, etc... Makes my stomach turn. Fresh, canned, frozen, any preperation by any kind of chef, it doesn't matter. I just can't eat them.

As a three-year old I had a fierce case of stomach flu right after eating a bag of popcorn from Venture's snack bar (think midwestern Target). I don't think I ate popcorn again until I was a teenager...

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I have a bug phobia which manifests itself in my eating habits in that I am grossed out at the thought of eating bugs of the sea (shrimp). I also tend not to order leafy green salads anymore. Many years ago, I was halfway through a chicken caesar salad when a big beetle came crawling out from under the greens. I've also found a small green inchworm crawling through my salad as well as a dead gnat in another one of my salads. So when I do order a salad, I pay close attention to each bite.

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Oysters, clams, mussels, just about any bi-valve. (I have, however, begun to appreciate the much abused scallop)
I'm with you on the bivalves and extend my hatred to all molluscs. While it started as purely a taste thing, I think too many dissections will prevent me from ever attempting to eat these. I accept this as a character flaw.
I'd also curious about any dislikes or phobias that have been successfully cured, and how that happened. :o
Soft-shell crabs and lamb dislike have both been conquered with help from Tom Power. I have eaten soft-shells all over the place now but have only had a couple of lamb dishes. I'm still not fully over that one.

Asparagus and spinach hatred have both been overcome with repeated small tastes over the years. I know that my tastes have changed over time so if I see a preparation at a restaurant or a recipe that looks interesting, I'll give it a shot. You just have to be willing to not finish the dish or find someone who will let you have a taste off of their plate.

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Brain, and internal organs! The grossest thing I have ever seen was a photo on EG where one of the hosts had cooked some internal organ to medium temperature! I made a comment that there was no way I could ever eat that. Of course I was shunned for the remainder of the thread.

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I really hate to admit this, but... seared tuna absolutely grosses me out. Cook that thing through and through. I don't know why 'cause I'll eat sushi or cooked, medium meats. But no amount of coaxing can get me to eat "seared tuna, raw in the middle." In fact, at home, I tend to overcook all fish. Yes, I know; it turns out dry, rubbery and tasteless. But opaque? Puh-leeze!

I hate biting into whole fruits; anything larger than a strawberry almost always gets cut up. And bad or mushy spots completely squick me out. I don't recall having any traumatic worm in my apple episodes as a kid, so there's no telling where this came from.

I'm with you on this one. As a kid, I did (or seem to remember that I did) have a bad experience with an apple resulting in a crack – which remains to this date – in a maxillary central incisor. :o

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I think desensitizing oneself is the best way to get over phobias. When I decided it was ridiculous not to eat any tempura foods because of one bad experience years before, I started with tempura vegetables, then moved on to shrimp.

As far as whole fruits, maybe cooking them would be a good start? (pears poached in wine, baked apples, etc.)

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There was a little boy in my daughter's class in elementary school who loved to gross out the girls by eating graham crackers slathered with French's mustard. When that became old he progressed to eating bugs. The louder they shrieked "EEEEWWW! GROSS!!!" the happier he was-- it was the reaction he was seeking. This is just that kid, older.

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Most of the progress I have made in transitioning from picky eater to less picky eater - and there has been real progress - has involved alcohol. :o Seriously, it helps. After a glass of wine or two, I psych myself up by reminding me that the new foods I have been trying haven't killed me or even made me say "gross" (bar scallops). In fact, most of the foods I have tried have made me shrug and say "that didn't taste at all like I expected." The smell of most calimari makes me say Never however I have said that before and been wrong.

Using the lowering-my-inhibitions-with-alcohol method, I have successfully eaten goat, soft shell crab, lobster, shrimp, crab, tuna tartare and a raw oyster. I think the shrimp I had wasn't well prepared so I have to get the nerve to re-try. Everything else has gone pretty well and this former seafood "hater" is now interested in trying sushi. Anyone want to act as my sushi ambassador? :lol:

I haven't been able to drink any colas since I had mono at 14. The flavor has become something I just can't tolerate.

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As far as whole fruits, maybe cooking them would be a good start? (pears poached in wine, baked apples, etc.)
I have no problems with cooked whole fruit, just biting into it raw.

And that story..my God that's disgusting. I don't even want to see it on my thighs, never mind cook with it. :o

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One word: Cilantro.

Tastes like battery acid dipped in soap.

That perception has a genetic basis, like the asparagus effect.

Any other supertasters out there? It took me a long time to get used to coffee, wine, bitter greens, and controlled spoilage like stinky cheese. It drives my husband crazy to be asked "does this smell bad to you?" all the time.

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There are many flavors I dislike but manage to eat in polite company if I must: kiwi fruit, most melons, lima beans, arugula. But there's one food that has always - all my life - forever - nauseated me: mustard.

Absolutely, positively, cannot stand the smell or taste of prepared mustard.

A few years back, Mom cooked dinner for me and Mr P and my brother and his wife and kids, and made a mild mustard sauce for the broccoli. How I managed to get it into my mouth without smelling it I'll never know - probably was gabbing excitedly with everyone and just shoved it in without noticing - but immediately I spat it out and yelled "Jesus Christ, Mom, what the fuck did you put in this?!" before I could stop myself. She replied, mildly, "still don't like mustard, do you?" The nephews couldn't stop laughing.

About 17 years ago I went on a very strict diet and for about two months had a banana every day for lunch. Only a banana. Then one day I took a bite and almost vomited. It was years before I could eat one again. Even now they have to be at a certain stage - a few hours either side of my definition of ripe and I just can't eat them.

My vinegar issues are in the Blue Duck Tavern thread.

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I hate to admit this, but for years I hated scrambled eggs. I blame my mother, she put gobs of cheese in them when I was young, and I HATED the taste. what was strangewas that I would eat poached, hard boiled and fried eggs, I just hated scrambled, still do to some extent. Rice with sugar and butter on it. Being Filipino, I find this a huge injustice to rice. And finally, milk. I hate milk and always have, have yet to drink a drop in my adult life. Even as a baby, my Mom says they could only get me to drink coconut juice. I do, however, love all thing made with milk, chief among them cheese and butter. Other than that, I'll eat cow balls, brains, kidneys, hell lung if it's cooked right.

I once had a sous chef who refused to eat anything with onions in it....he lasted two days.

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Grapes and by association raisins, a result of watching my siblings peel grapes, stick the slimy eyebally looking things on the tips of all of their fingers, and ceremoniously slurp the eyeballs into their mouths one by one. I thought I should have won mother of the year award the first time I bought grapes for my toddler and cut them for her. It really made my stomach turn. I'm mostly over it now but still won't eat them.

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This thread is starting to make me feel like a picky eater when I really am anything but.

BUT, I am really not a fan of eggs. I think it is more egg yolks because I can manage something like an omelet where the yolks are all mixed in. I cannot eat eggs in any other form: poached, hard boiled, sunny-side up, whatever. I am a person who will order an Egg McMuffin and throw out the egg :o .

Oh, and the only thing in the world I am allergic to is kiwi fruit, a la Ross from Friends.

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Not my own dislikes, but my sons always rejected any type of seafood. My older son will eat pork, beef, and lamb, but no birds. My younger son will eat beef, chicken and turkey, but no pork or any other kind of bird, and no lamb.

The younger son used to refuse to eat onions, and both rejected mushrooms.

Needless to stay, since my husband and I will eat almost anything, these limitations have been very irksome, although I have developed quite a repertoire of beef dishes. I also cook double portions of things one will eat on alternate days, and the other one gets leftovers.

The older son will now eat sushi, although it's wasted on him, really, and the younger son allows me to put mushrooms in dishes as long as I leave them whole so he can fish them out.

I used to think forcing kids to eat things was a bad idea. Now that they're well over 6 ft. tall, it's too late now. But as the responses on this thread show, forcing kids to eat things probably doesn't work, anyway.

On the bright side, they do love vegetables.

(Oh, and I absolutely refuse to eat liver (except for fois gras) and kidneys, brains or lungs.)

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I find the smell of cooking cauliflower or cabbage nauseating. Growling up, my grandmother would make halupki and I would cry. They wouldn't make me eat the cabbage, but kept telling me that I would like the stuffing (I didn't). Also, once or twice a year Nana would make what she called pigs knuckles. Again, recipe for tears. I have a sensitive nose. :o

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Count me in the cilantro-hating camp. It tastes like soap to me. I've learned to tolerate it in small amounts in some dishes, but why should I have to do that? I vote for cilantro as a trite food. Enough already!

Eyeballs would creep me out, and I steadfastly avoid looking closely at the toads and eels in the Great Wall.

Very hot chili peppers are also a problem for me. I learned to appreciate some spicy-hot foods from Peter Chang, and I try them now, but I'm still very cautious.

As a child, my mother tried to force me to eat curry--wouldn't let me leave the table, and I sat there for a very long time, until she gave up (my brother did, too). Today I was thrilled at the buffet at Bombay Curry Company--not every bad childhood experience makes a phobia.

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Interesting responses. :o

Eggs seem to be an issue for lots of us. I love eggs, but undercooked scrambled eggs make me gag, as does undercooked egg white in a fried egg. Love runny yolks, but unless the white is fully set, I can't eat it. I have tried and tried to get over the scrambled egg thing with omelets with limited success.

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Interesting responses. :o

Eggs seem to be an issue for lots of us. I love eggs, but undercooked scrambled eggs make me gag, as does undercooked egg white in a fried egg. Love runny yolks, but unless the white is fully set, I can't eat it. I have tried and tried to get over the scrambled egg thing with omelets with limited success.

I loved scrambled eggs as a teenager, but then on a visit home from college, had them on a Sunday morning I was hungover but didn't want to tell my parents. Sadly, they found out, when I made my dad pull over to the side of the road in lovely downtown Baltimore on the way to the train station so I could spend a good ten minutes vomiting scrambled eggs into the gutter. That was 1987. I didn't have scrambled eggs again until 2006.... and now I can really only handle scrambled egg whites. So for me, eggs are less a phobia/dislike and more a trauma.

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Interesting responses. :o

Eggs seem to be an issue for lots of us. I love eggs, but undercooked scrambled eggs make me gag, as does undercooked egg white in a fried egg. Love runny yolks, but unless the white is fully set, I can't eat it. I have tried and tried to get over the scrambled egg thing with omelets with limited success.

I am exactly the same way. I can't look at runny scrambled eggs but have grown to appreciate a nice, runny poached or fried yolk as long as the white is set.

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I forgot my strangest and most un-foodie phobia. I really can't stand eating chicken on the bone. Aside from the occasional tandoori chicken leg or buffalo drummie (never the wing part), it just grosses me out. Too many pockets of fat and ligaments and veins and discolored meat.

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I have a texture problem with cartilage or similar textured food items and probably wouldn't do well eating eyeballs.

I did not realize that so many folks have egg issues and thought my Mom was odd. I love me runny scrambled and soft boiled eggs when the white around the yolk is still runny.

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