The annoyance of fussy eaters

I can’t stand fussy eaters. They annoy me immensely. They don’t like tomato, can’t stand seafood, despise the texture of custard, or they find the smell of fish offensive.

When they come to your house you have to rethink all your favourite recipes to cut out the stuff that they don’t like, or else watch them screw up their face at all the offerings on the table. When you go out for a meal, the choice of restaurants is limited to the few cuisines that they do like, and at the table they screw up their face picking their way through the menu to find the one dish that they are willing to eat. It’s not just the impact of their fussiness on me as a host or fellow dinner guest that annoys me (although this, selfishly, is my biggest complaint), but they really are making their own lives a lot more difficult, and missing out on some amazing food experiences.

[Of course, I have to clarify that I know there are some people that are legitimately fussy due to allergies, intolerances, or religious regions. No, my gripe isn’t with them. My gripe is with people that are fussy with food simply because they don’t like the smell of it, the look of it, the feel of it, or just the thought of it.]

fussy eater

It would seem for some people that food is not something that is not an experience to be enjoyed, either alone with a crunchy, toasted slice of sourdough scraped with garlic and smothered with chopped, ripe tomatoes, freshly torn basil and a sprinkle of sea salt, or with friends over a shared bucket of fresh king prawns and a platter of sizzling BBQ baby octopus. No, it is a fussy process of elimination to decide which dish would constitute a palatable meal. Indian curries are out (that stink of spices will linger for hours!), seafood is struck off (that fishy smell makes me want to vomit!) – I’ll have a chicken schnitzel with chips please. And feel free to smother it with gravy too.

What strikes me as irrational is that, quite often, these people have never even tried the foods that they claim to despise. They find the idea of Malaysian food unfamiliar and completely out of their comfort zone, or their mum had a dodgy prawn once so all seafood is off the menu. I once had a girlfriend tell me that she tried corn for the first time at the age of 26 after thinking that she hated her whole life and found that she actually really liked it.

It really is a first world problem to be fussy with food. We are lucky in the developed world to have an abundant amount of choice in the food that we eat. One that is fussy with food is not only a royal pain (and potentially offensive and embarrassing) for a dinner party host or as a dining companion, but they will struggle when travelling as their favoured food choices are severely limited, particularly in developing countries where their fussiness will be viewed almost certainly as a peculiarity, and probably as elitism.

The sad thing is that, even though they won’t know it or even care, they are missing out on new and delicious food experiences. There are so many flavours and exciting foods from cuisines all around the world that they are denying themselves. Why go to an all-you-can-eat buffet and only eat hot chips?

* Image courtesy of Saida Online

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9 thoughts on “The annoyance of fussy eaters

  1. See, I have no ‘legitimate’ reason for not liking tomato, I just don’t like the taste of it. I’d like to enjoy tomatoes. I try them every now and then, just to be sure. I will avoid serving them to myself so I don’t have to leave them on my plate. I try to eat some if everything’s already been dished up because I don’t want to seem too impolite. Manners must always overcome my gag reflex, but have no doubt, I (currently) hate tomatoes.

      • Nearly 2/3! And that’s because I’m so polite 😉

        I should possibly point out that if were required to cook for me regularly enough you’d learn a list of things that make me screw up my nose …

    • I read somewhere that there is some genetic thing relating to brussel sprouts, where some people with a specific gene find them unbearably bitter and the those with other genes find them OK. Maybe it’s the same with other foods like tomatoes!

  2. Fairly predictable to see I got a mention in your fussy eaters blog! And corn wasn’t the only food I tried as an adult. Even worse – the humble spag bol. My parents never ate it, so it wasn’t until I moved out of home that I finally tried it… and loved it. Can’t go without it now. But you are right – being fussy can be very limiting and while I have improved, I am not the foody you are. I will try to be on my best behaviour at our next dinner date 🙂

    • B, you’re not supposed to identify yourself as an anonymous referee!! You’re definitely not the fussiest person that I’ve ever met, and dig beneath the surface and I find that the vast majority of people that I meet will have a list of foods that they won’t eat (some longer than others!)

      I am actually in the same boat as you, in that I didn’t try spag bol until after I left home – my parents never made it either! How good is it! Of course you won’t have tried everything but the point is more about being open-minded with something that you haven’t tried and then make up your mind.

      One of the worst things I have ever eaten was this salt-covered licorice that is popular in Scandinavia. I was dubious about it in the first place but thought I’d give it a go – it was foul. I had to spit it into the nearest bin! The second worst thing I’ve ever eaten was on a dinner out with you ladies – the squid ink rice pudding. A dessert that is fishy!!! What was I thinking? Still, makes for an interesting experience!

      • haha… sorry for giving up my identity.

        I agree that it is good to be open-minded about trying new foods… but the not-so-rational side of me still finds it difficult to put that into practise.

    • I had totally forgotten about your corn love awakening! I was at a BBQ the other day where I discovered one of my 20+ year old workmates had never eaten corn on the cob before – I don’t think she even knew the corn kernels she had seen before came off the cob!

  3. Pingback: The cult of food and celebrity chefs « Laugh Lots, Travel Often

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