Meeting food fears head on

Foods that some people adore can turn the stomachs of others, whether due to a prior encounter that did not end well or for other reasons. One of my friends cannot stand bananas, and won’t even be in the same room if someone is eating one because the aroma makes her nauseated. Facing down an aversion like this is difficult, as a recent Guardian article explains. There, 10 writers each face their own particular food fear, with sometimes hilarious results.

It turns out my friend is far from alone in her dislike of bananas. Arwa Mahdawi described bananas as “mushy, musty and alarmingly yellow.” She bravely soldiered onward, however, making it two bites into a banana before throwing in the towel. I guess Bananas Foster is not going to make an appearance on her dessert table any time soon.

Felicity Cloake’s food fear came as a surprise: the food writer had never had a chip butty (for our US readers, that’s a sandwich filled with fries). Carb-on-carb, what’s not to like? Apparently Felicity agrees, noting that the sandwich was “a three-note masterpiece of fat, salt and starch, gloriously simple and wonderfully comforting.” Other food fears or aversions the writers squared up against included oysters, trifle, hard-boiled eggs, and various versions of tomato soup. What food would have the most trouble trying to eat?

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  • dbuhler  on  March 23, 2023

    Well, I am in camp “I hate bananas”, along with both my kids. My husband is the only one who enjoys them and he does eat them regularly. For me, the flavor and texture are just not right…nothing about them screams “fruit” to me, which seems wrong. I have been able to eat them in things like banana bread and banana pancakes, but I don’t really like them. The weird thing about this food aversion is that I regularly crave banana splits…I’m not sure why.

    My only other really strong food aversion is for peas. I never liked them as a child and a baby-sitter once insisted that I eat the cooked peas she prepared for me and shortly after ingesting them I…well…they came back up with the rest of my lunch. Ever since then the smell of cooked peas makes me nauseous. I was once riding in a car on a long road trip with some family when my sister-in-law started feeding her young daughter some puréed peas and I had to beg them to stop the car so I could get out. After I caught my breath we rode down the highway with my window down. It was incredibly noisy, but worth it to not smell the peas!

  • Sanyo12  on  March 24, 2023

    Perhaps I am the weird one but I have no food aversions. I like some things more than others but have yet to encounter a revolting food. I am sure they exist. I just haven’t had the experience.

    I have two food rules. One, it needs to already be dead when it comes to the table. Raw is ok. Alive, a little less so. Two, I will eat whatever my host/hostess serves me. It is the polite thing to do.

  • averythingcooks  on  March 24, 2023

    I DETEST BANANAS…..fresh banana, banana bread, banana popsicles, banana gum, banana cake etc etc. I don’t like peeling them, I don’t like the smell of them, I don’t like the feel of them. Of course, my partner T happily eats one every morning…he occasionally leaves the peel on the counter just to get a reaction from me.

  • matag  on  March 24, 2023

    When I was five I ate a bowlful of M&Ms. I got sick. Didn’t eat another one until I was thirty two. Some things just stay with you.

  • KatieK1  on  March 24, 2023

    I have an aversion to shredded cocoanut.

    On another note, a little girl at a party once approached me and proudly announced a list of things she refused to eat. I quoted Julia Child by replying, “more for the rest of us”. I wish I had a photo of the look of shock on her face in response.

  • Aggie92  on  March 24, 2023

    And here I thought I was the only person that hates bananas. Glad to know that I’m not alone. I can’t get past the sickly sweet, musty smell to even want to try one. My dad claims I scarfed them down as a young kid, but I have no memory of that and I really don’t know where my aversion came from. My husband loves them, and since I love him, I’ll make him banana bread. But mushing up the overripe bananas is torture, lol.

  • sanfrannative  on  March 24, 2023

    Liver. I have tried and tried and I just can’t do it!

  • feliciakw  on  March 24, 2023

    Vanilla. I fractured my skull. I instantly lost all my taste and smell (shear injury), but brains are weird and amazing…I developed an INTENSE aversion to vanilla in any form (real, imitation, baked things, lotion, perfume, etc), I can smell it a mile away. I bake so it’s particularly frustrating. I will always bring the a dessert because when I make it…I can leave it out!

  • CapeCodCook  on  March 24, 2023

    My people!! I thought I was the only one one who with an aversion to the smell and texture of bananas. Banana Bread: OK, but just-peeled bananas: NO! Just today I was attending a class and the person next to me took out a fresh banana and proceeded to peel it, consume it, and then leave the peel right out on her desk for me to smell for an hour. Yuck! Makes me wonder if it’s something biological, like disliking the taste of cilantro? (Which by the way, I like a lot!)

  • reader1trees  on  March 25, 2023

    I loathe soft-boiled eggs where the white is still runny and don’t like omelettes with uncooked middles either.

  • LeilaD  on  March 25, 2023

    I have tried tripe. That lasted all of two bites. Generally speaking, I hate food waste and when I encounter something I dislike, I at least try to finish it while vowing not to eat it again. Tripe was… I couldn’t do it.

    And I’m an arachnophobe. I will not eat spiders. Period. All the alternative protein ‘bugs are good for you’ people will have to take that elsewhere.

  • gamulholland  on  March 25, 2023

    I enjoy all sorts of different spices, chiles, veggies, condiments, carbs… I love cooking the food of many different parts of the world with flavors and combinations we don’t use in the US— but I can’t do recognizable pieces of meat. Bones, gristle, skin… nope. Ground meat is OK, although I don’t even eat that very much and the flavor has to be swamped by other things, so I suppose I could just use Beyond or Impossible or whatever, except that I have a husband and three boys who all like meat (and one daughter who does not, but she’s at college.) And this precedes going to med school and having to dissect a human, although that definitely didn’t help. (Insert cringing emoji here.)

  • ellabee  on  March 25, 2023

    As a child, I was unusual among my friends in having almost no food aversions, and enjoying things that most of them wouldn’t eat (black olives, blue cheese). But the one thing I wouldn’t touch was bananas. I was also much less fond of watermelon than most people. Both of these are dislikes I’ve overcome in the last few years.

  • FuzzyChef  on  March 26, 2023

    Sea cucumber.

    And no, I’m not interested in overcoming it.

  • Rinshin  on  March 28, 2023

    No to offal, bugs, pork skin, sea cucumber, shark, shark fin, and pine nuts.

  • chriscooks  on  March 29, 2023

    Strawberry jam. When I was a child I ate some when I was coming down with the flu, and it came back up. I can eat it now, some 50 or 60 years later, but I avoid it. Strawberries are fine, just not the jam.

  • ccav  on  March 29, 2023

    I, too find bananas revolting. Maybe once a year I can have a bite or two of a partially-still-green one, but the ripe and overripe ones make me gag. I also have a gag reflex to ripe papaya.
    And I have tried tripe as well, wanted to like it but just. could. not.
    No offal for me.

  • bittrette  on  April 17, 2023

    I’m surprised at all the banana haters at EYB. I love bananas and eat more of them than I should. I also love raisins (if they’re soft), vanilla, and liver.
    But I loathe coconut, both the taste and the texture. If a recipe calls for coconut milk, I’ll substitute dairy milk or half & half.
    Also garlic (more than 2 cloves per 6-serving recipe, tho I like most other alliums), candied fruit (I pick them out of my hot cross buns), the anise-licorice-fennel taste, snails, chayotes, avocados (haven’t tried them – they just look repulsive), and any animal that is alive at the time of serving.

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