I apologize in advance to any of you who are picky eaters. I am sure in many other ways you are all fine and wonderful people. But I just find extreme picky-eater-ness, well into adulthood, to be very annoying. Kids, I get, because they have more attuned taste buds than we have as adults and foods taste stronger to them. But grown adults, well into their 30s and 40s, who turn their nose up because you only have olive oil, for example, and they can’t fry up a hamburger patty in olive oil because it “tastes weird” — that is just odd.

Two of the closest people in my life are the biggest picky eaters I have ever encountered — my sister and my oldest friend. I can handle it, I suppose, that the list of things they refuse to eat is a million times longer than the short list of things they will eat. But going to a restaurant with them, or trying to enjoy a meal with them, or cooking for them, can be like visiting hell.

My sister will not eat onions of any sort. And so every single time we dine out, she drills the waitress like a homicide detective about whether there is any trace of onion in anything she’s ordered. This is not an allergy — this is just a dislike. I don’t have the heart to tell her that she has likely eaten a thousand onions in all sorts of foods that she didn’t even know were there. Her list, by the way, also includes goat cheese, tomatoes, pickles, peas, mashed potatoes, any lettuce other than iceberg, any apple other than Red Delicious, peaches, plums, any bread other than white bread … the list goes on and on. My friend has an equally long list. No relish, no feta cheese, green beans, cooked carrots, ice cream other than maple walnut, pizza, yogurt, any cheese that is not melted on a pizza, no shrimp, no seafood of any sort except canned salmon, no eggs, etc etc etc. 

Both of them have the terrible habit, as well, of making vomit faces and saying things like: “I cannot believe you eat that!! It looks like something you hacked up out of your throat!!” that I find particularly galling. You don’t want to grow up past your childhood eating habits? Fine. But don’t try to sicken the rest of us with your distaste. Neither my sister nor my oldest friend can handle that I eat oysters, lobster and sushi. They think this makes me some kind of wild hippie lunatic. I think their refusal to even sample things that are world-renowned for being delicious is tiresome and childish. At least TRY it. And if you don’t like it, don’t shame others for feeling differently.

With my own children, the rule has always been that they have to at least try something before deciding they hate it. My daughter is an adventurous eater who will pretty much try anything, and usually likes it. My son will try and will not always like it, but he’s getting better as he gets older, and I think it’s because I insist that he sample whatever I’m making or ordering.

There is something so closed and unadventurous about a picky eater, no? And I don’t think it serves a person very well professionally in later years. Imagine being taken out for some big job lunch with your boss and you’re fretting to the waitress about whether there’s apple in the fruit salad. I would internally roll my eyes at that person. Or am I wrong? Perhaps you picky eaters out there can dissuade me on this front. Speak up, picky eaters, and tell me what is the most ridiculous thing that you won’t eat, and why?

I should have prefaced this by saying there are very few things I won’t eat: organs, brains, bugs and green peppers, that’s about it. And green peppers just because they are so boring and you keep burping them up for four days, not because they’re repulsive.

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