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Learning to Like It

I am a firm believer that one can learn to like, and even enjoy, eating just about anything. From personal experience, I've learned to like mushrooms, tomatoes and fish-- yes, that's right, until my early twenties I didn't eat "swimming" fish (vs. shellfish). But I just sought out well-prepared fish dishes and then learned to make some of them myself-- voila! I like fish. I undertook these "taste projects" because picky eaters are a pet peeve of mine. Nothing infuriates me more than someone refusing to eat a certain food (particularly if said person is a guest in someone's home). So what have you had to learn to like and why? And are there things you just won't eat, even if you're at a dinner party?

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  1. I have mayo issues and for years wouldn't try anything even if the mayo had obviously been spiced or tweaked and wasn't goopy. Over the years (and since flavoring mayo is often the norm now) I've learned to give it a chance and like many flavored mayos.

    Having said that, I will not eat a boiled egg in any form...sliced, chopped, deviled, etc. and no one can make me. People often put them in salads, particularly spinach salads, and I'd rather eat a human head.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      Hard boiled eggs?? Really? They seem so innocuous, no real discernable taste, texture is sort of benign (like jello), no off-putting odor.

      What gives? Very curious about this one.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        They have a real off-putting odor IMO. And the whole texture issue and the yolk being separated from the white....eeewwwww. God meant for the yolk and white to be mixed together and go out into the world as one, cooked completely and covered with cheese <g>

        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          Now, if you are comparing boiled egg whites with say, for example, a good cheese omelette, then I'm definitely with you on that one.


          1. re: Janet from Richmond

            I agree... hard-boiled eggs are bound to make me gag! Ick! I'm not really a huge egg fan in general, unless there's plenty of other ingredients to offset the egg taste and smell, i.e. a quiche or egg casserole or bacon!!

            I've learned to like lots of things, but I can't really think of anything I've *had* to learn to like.

            1. re: Katie Nell

              When eggs are over-boiled they develop a sulfurous smell. Why this is I don't know, but it's related to, and smells similar to, breaking wind (to put it delicately).

            2. re: Janet from Richmond

              Buy Eggland's Best eggs (available at Pavilions, at least in Pasadena) I'm telling you, hard boiled they taste MUCH better than any other egg I tried (i did a blind taste test)

              And I eat around 4 hb eggs (i throw away the yellow) per day... one of my favorite snacks.

              1. re: amandine

                If you throw away the yolk, you're not really eating 4 hard boiled eggs. You are eating 4 egg whites. Not the same thing at all. I love eggs, the entire egg, but have found that the the ones high in omega-3's taste funky to me. I buy very fresh eggs from a local poultry farm, and never boil them, just start in cold water, bring to a simmer, cover and let sit 15 minutes. Then run cold water over them for a few minutes until cool. They never overcook and smell fresh, not sulfrous. But be aware that very fresh eggs can be hard to peel.

              2. re: Janet from Richmond

                yeah that's exactly what God intended to happen to the yolks. As far as texture, I'm reminded of a certain book by Bathaille.

          2. i just recently started eating meat again after ten years. now i eat almost everything cooked rare. steaks, lamb, fish.

            im not the biggest fan of chocolate and have yet to find a chocolate cake ive ever liked.

            ive learned to like a couple different sorts of cheeses after eating them for awhile. brie, bleu, gorgonzola etc.

            1. I've tried to learn to like raw onions, but they make me gag. They have to be cooked through or I can't eat them. Other than that, though, I can usually eat just about anything.

              1. I used to avoid curries, satay, cilantro and ginger. At some point I just decided that I liked them and would give them a shot and now I love all of them.

                I will not eat any kind of animal that doesn't have rigid limbs; meaning clams, mussels, octopus, squid, etc. They disgust me. I just find them too alien. Basically, I won't eat any animal that I would be reluctant to touch and hold when it's alive, and all those creatures give me the creeps. The exception to this rule is crab and lobster (but not shrimp), for some reason I eat them even though I probably wouldn't want to hold a live one.

                Eggplant is another food I will not eat. It's slimy and gross. Plus, it's too purple.

                1. I'm trying to learn to eat cilantro. I am one of those who can't abide the stuff but so many chefs are using it that I suffer through it when I encounter it -- much easier to do if it is cooked, but harder when raw...

                  I'm not alone:

                  1. I am pretty omnivorous now, but didn't start out that way. The first piece of fruit I ate was an orange when I was about 12. I didn't eat an apple until I was out of college. Things I've learned to like over the years through gradual adoption are mayonaise, tomatos, peanuts, various fruits, eggs, cheese (besides mozzerlla on pizza) and fruit jelly/jam. I've always eaten meat and fish but can't stand the thought of ever eating liver or pate, brains, pigs feet, tongue, white fish, or certain kinds of sausage. Even though I eat peanuts, peanut butter makes me want to hurl, and yes, I've tried it. The first pb&j sandwich I ever tried was two years ago, and I thought I'd throw up. Also, I'm pretty sure I'll never take to cereal which strikes me as the most disguting combination possible: crispy wheat flakes in cold milk... ugh.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: wontonton

                      Why won't you eat white fish? Is it the color?

                      1. re: Humbucker

                        I guess the general look and feel has a lot to do with it. It's unappealing to me. Something I just remembered: on the show "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Larry David gets a celebrity sandwich named after him at the local deli. First he's excited, then crestfallen when it turns out to be made of whitefish.

                    2. I have tried for over 25+ years to like salmon. It is not going to happen. Smoked or cured is okay any other way it is not happening. It will not go down and I cannot wait to get it out of my mouth.

                      1. The two things I never eat are tomatoes and snails. I hate raw tomotes, baked tomatoes, broiled tomatoes, tomato soup. No problem with Marinara sauce etc. When I think of snails I remember my mother scooping the slimy things out of her garden in the summer. gross. I think I eat just about anything else. AS far as learning to like them-why???? I serve tomatoes to my family and even grew them in my vegetable garden for my family.

                        1. i've come to like a lot of things that i hated when i was a kid - raw onions, rare beef, mustard, hot peppers, raw tomatoes. my vegetable intake was once limited to lettuce, cucumbers, corn and peas, but now i eat every vegetable known to man and i like or love them all, including the ones that a lot of people dislike like beets, brussel sprouts and turnips. but i still can't stand fish. it tastes to me like something one shouldn't eat. asking me why i don't like it is like asking me why i don't like to eat dirt. nevertheless, i continue to try various types and preparations of fish, just to see if something will change, but no go. as recently as two weeks ago we were on vacation and had some incredibly fresh fish (as in purchased straight off the boat that afternoon) cooked on the grill, so i tried it. it tasted of the citrus marinade and the grill, with an aftertaste of . . . fish. this led to a discussion of people prodding non-fish-eaters to try some by saying "it's really good - it doesn't taste fishy." that always strikes me as odd - i can't imagine offering someone a bite of my steak with the recommendation "it's great - doesn't taste beefy at all." although i guess we do say the same thing with game meats that "don't taste too gamey." and to answer the original question, no, i would not eat fish even if served it at a dinner party. several years ago at a dinner with japanese clients i felt obligated to choke down sushi (don't get me started on raw fish . . .) and nearly made myself ill.

                          1. i used to hate olives. but in italy, i had some good ones and since then, i have no issues with them.

                            i've tried and tried with cilantro as well, no go. i'm similarly averse to coriander and parsely.

                            another one i've repeatedly tried but will never like -the rind on soft cheeses like camembert and brie. around others (particularly the french who do eat the rind), i will eat it, but on my own, never.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: auberginegal

                              I also hated olives -- then I dropped acid (this was 20-some years ago) and the ONLY thing to eat in the house were a variety of olives.

                              Now I love them!

                            2. I've been working on training my bitter palate. Most Americans don't eat much bitter foods, but so many other cultures relish the contrast. I used to hate frisée (curly endive), partly because of the bitter taste and partly because of the texture, the way it tickled my mouth. But then I read some of Patricia Wells' enchantingly evocative descriptions of big white bowls of frisée salads at bistros in Paris, and it made me determined to like them. So I now I do, and I grow dozens in my garden at home, eagerly waiting for them to mature.

                              Similarly, a description of campari and orange goosed me to start drinking those and appreciating the bitter flavor. Now that combo's too sweet for me and I go for straight campari and soda. Extremely restorative!

                              I'm working on the cilantro thing also. I'll eat it, but if I have a choice about (i.e., a garnish), I won't.

                              I haven't had great experiences with kidneys so far -- the smell puts me off. (Though rabbit kidneys are delicious little morsels.) But I honestly can't think of anything that someone is likely to serve me that I couldn't manage to eat some of. Although a lot of processed canned foods (Chef Boyardee, shudder) would put me off.

                              1. I'd like to address the second part of your question..the pet peeve..folks not eating what you serve at parties..

                                My DH and I enjoy all kinds of foods. I'm probably more adventureous but if the dish has a delicious sauce on it DH will give it a go. Our teenager is another matter. He's particular about most foods, textures, smells, appearance..far more than the typical teenager hooked on junk...'cause junk doesn't turn him on either...parties (and we throw as many as we attend) are always an issue.

                                We don't wish to insult anyone, we in fact love the invites..but our decision to exclude him from the social opportunity BECAUSE of food was a difficult one to make. So we didn't. If he's invited, he respectively attends.

                                To those who know us and invite us anyway..we explain..and now they know...the kids gonna eat beforehand but we're (dh & I) going to arrive ready and happy to chow.

                                So to those unhappy with our fussy eater we say--thank you for your patience...he's a work in progress :)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Lol. My older brother was like that. There was a list of about 10 things that he would eat and nothing else would enter his mouth unless there was some kind of punishment involved. I, on the other hand, was a human vacuum cleaner and was the go-to person in the house to clean out the refridgerator every couple weeks or so.

                                  As for the main topic, I think I'm a little bit of a reverse than most people here. I grew up liking squash, but now, I can't stand it anymore. Fresh, grilled, steamed, cooked, flavored...no go.

                                2. I used to have an aversion to fruit: before my teens I could probably count on both hands how many times I've eaten any type of fruit (not counting the period in time before my memory is reliable -- ie infant/toddler years). I think it started with my mother spoonfeeding me soft persimmons as baby food. She would scrape as much of the flesh out as she could -- which usually meant getting so close to the skin that it would taste harsh and bitter. After that I would run screaming from the room if I saw persimmons, and pretty soon that feeling extended to practically any other fruit they tried to introduce to me.

                                  I finally caught on to Fuji apples when they were still a rare find here in CA... and learned to enjoy the crisp Japanese pears from our garden. I still regard all citrus suspiciously, although I will taste it if assured it is sweet and not tart or bitter. And a few years ago I finally saw the light -- hard persimmons! Nowadays I wonder if my skin will turn orange from all that persimmon. The one fruit I will still not allow near me: soft persimmons.

                                  1. No, No, No:

                                    brussels sprouts
                                    yellow mustard
                                    raw onions in sandwiches
                                    stewed celery

                                    Yes, Yes, Yes after overcoming childhhod aversions to
                                    sour cream
                                    green beans
                                    green peas (but fresh, please)
                                    pork (Mom would broil me a lamb chop when porkchops were on the menu)
                                    hot and spicey foods

                                    1. I have a friend who was the pickiest eater in the world - no fish, only meat she would touch would be chicken, no eggs, no greens, but yes to popular fried bar items (like chicken tenders, french fries, etc). Interestingly enough, now that she's nearly anorexic (I'm really not joking about it, but my friends and I have tried to help her and have talked to her parents, but to no avail, and she has become so antagonistic when it comes to food that most of us have just given up eating with her) - she is actually a more adventurous eater, in a sense, for now she eats fish, mushrooms, eggs, and nearly everything that she wouldn't touch as a teenager. However, everything is virtually devoid of extra seasoning or flavor - fish is steamed, chicken is poached, no sauces of any kind dare get near what she eats. I have seen her nearly throw fits when her salad accidentally comes dressed in a restaurant. So, in a fashion, she's a less picky eater, yet simultaneously, she's even worse than when she was younger.

                                      Me, I'll eat almost anything. My biggest one was refusing to eat tomatoes when younger (unless disguised in pasta sauce). Then I went to Italy for several weeks in high school, and every single lunch we were served a caprese salad - and I learned to love tomatoes. However, I'm generally not a fan of most condiments, especially ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, and will avoid foods that contain them because ... ick. Everyone else in my family mocks me (as do most of my friends), but I just cannot stomach them. I think it's because they generally come out of plastic jars and have a super-long shelf life, which just makes me wary.

                                      1. The big one I got over was spicy food. Anything spicy-hot. As a kid I wouldn't eat any "hot" foods; no salsa, hot sauce, anything like that.

                                        Now I can't get enough. Jalapeños on every sandwich I eat, hot sauce on my eggs, wasabi all over the place, Thai food as hot as you can make it, and I make quarts upon quarts of hot pepper jelly every year.

                                        Also got over sushi. Now I love it, and it's one of my most favorite things to eat, but the first couple of times I tried it I thought I was going to retch.

                                        Still can't do onions, pretty much at all. Never ever ever raw, and only in very small quantities cooked.

                                        No mayo. Yuck. No margarine. Still don't like eggplant. Have a hard time with most organ meats, though I eat plenty of tripe.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Mill City Modern

                                          In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit to not having tried many organ meats. I could imagine having trouble eating them, even as a guest. But I would still try.

                                        2. learned to LOVE mushrooms. CAN NOT eat scallops (I know, I know)ever!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: laur76

                                            scallops are really tricky. occasionally i like them when they're done right. but they usually aren't so i don't. (must be well-seared and well-accompanied by other ingredients in the dish)

                                          2. Brains, sorry, never gonna happen. I tried them at an extremely good restaurant (have adored everything else) so on a set menu I thought 'let's give it a go' (it was a starter) and no. Just plain, no! My other 'no way' food is celery and that's a flavour thing, I'm happy if it's cooked to death so long as it's the other flavours that take over. My main food problem is texture rather than flavour. Otherwise, I tend to like things to start with. I've grown in to green olives (having always been a black person) and other things I tend to feel ambivalent to rather than growing to love them.

                                            My sister won't eat offal (except foie gras). Which might seem unreasonable until you realise she is a surgeon who specialises in kidneys now having done a lot of her training with liver. This is an eating foible I am happy to let slide - otherwise you get gory stories free with your dinner!

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: ali patts

                                              I never thought I would eat brains either - then, just last weekend I ended up with a slice of headcheese on my chaucuterie plate...I had to try it, and it turned out it was delicious!

                                              I really enjoy most foods but even after repeated attempts to learn to like it, I still find lamb extraordinarily unappealing. Sometimes I *really* have to choke it down, and when asked about my food preferences, I will say "no lamb please".

                                              I think the only thing I would refuse right out would be anything that was visibly alive. I had a friend who was faced with eating live baby octopus (its tentacles were grappling with her lip as she tried to eat it!) and I am still haunted by the monkey thing from "faces of death".

                                              No. Oysters are as live as I can stand.

                                              1. re: lisa13

                                                I don't think head cheese usually has brain in it. It's mostly the other meat and tissue around the skull.

                                                1. re: Humbucker

                                                  No way! I always remember kids at school saying it was brains. Oh well. I feel like a jerk now, but thanks for enlightening me!

                                            2. Wow! Who knew picky-eaters could also care about food enough to be posting here? I always assumed picky eaters just were unadventurous sods who were happy with mindless restrictions. This has changed my perceptions.

                                              As a kid (under 12) I didn't like a certain set of things including:

                                              the tamale from lobster, uni, soft cod roe, natto, many greens, blue cheese, mussels, and chicken livers.

                                              By the time I was 15 only soft cod roe and natto remained. The other had natural vanished. I often wonder why I didn't like them. I now LOVE dark greens, tamale and mussels. I cook (free-range, naturally raised) chicken livers all the time.

                                              Only natto and soft-cod roe took any effort -- but, about 3 tries and I like them now. Uni seems to taste like tamale and I loved Uni as soon as I liked tamale.

                                              I currently have about 6 blue cheeses in my fridge. It is the only food I can remember how I learned to like it. You see, I had never actually tasted it until about I was 13-4. I ahd always been too put off by the smell. Once I had tasted it, I loved it. I now I have to ask my local cheese monger to bring some new blues in because I've tried all the stuff he usually carries (there is a little group of us and he does bring in stuff for us -- its great).

                                              1. Cottage Cheese...why, why, why, does it even exist? Because of its healthful qualities (and to be a polite guest), I have tried to like this stuff, but seriously my body has a mind of its own when it comes to actually consuming it. "Eject, Eject"is what every cell starts to scream. Also, when I was a kid I used to cry if someone put mayonnaise on anything I ate or buttered my sandwiches (why do they do thay anyway?). Now that I am an adult (the mature part is still in development) I can tolerate mayo, but the only time I really like is with frites. yum.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: JennaL

                                                  I forgot about cottage cheese.......that may be even worse than boiled eggs. Those curd things....eeeeeeewwwwwww

                                                2. Feta: called it "fetid" until I went to Greece last last summer. First greek salad in Athens immediately changed my mind.
                                                  Tomatoes, mushrooms, tofu: hated it until I went to college and had no choice but to try... and like!
                                                  Cottage cheese: learned to like for protein purposes
                                                  Brussel sprouts: foodie friends just turned me on to them broiled with a little olive oil. SO GOOD!
                                                  Bleu cheese: avoided like the plague (eat mold?!?) but now love after tasting some artisanal cheese at Fromagerie DuFour in Quebec

                                                  Canteloupe makes me nauseated, white chocolate is gross, and I hate Chinese food as a whole. Hate the texture, hate the greasiness, and I hate the weird ingredients. I will NEVER eat the fried skin off a chicken claw!!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: amandine

                                                    Brussels sprouts. I really miss Brussels sprouts. I made a big batch of them sauteed with garlic and olive oil for a family dinner a few years ago, came home and developed a stomach virus in the night. Bye, bye Brussels sprouts.

                                                  2. I just had huitlacoche. It took me *months* to get ready to order it but I'm pretty proud that I finally did. Next time I'm going to ask them to pedal back on the jalepeños so I can isolate more of the flavor of the huitlacoche.

                                                    1. I will now eat almost anything (my only really strong taste dislike is Emmenthal cheese), with one exception: I just can't eat anything goopy or jiggly. It's a texture, and not a taste thing. Cottage cheese, jello, creme brulee, pudding, anything like that, I just can't do it. I used to have the same aversion to yogurt, and then I tried the Fage's Greek Yogurt, which I love, because it's thicker. At a dinner party, if I'm served something like this (usually for dessert), I'll taste a little bit to be polite, and then stir it around a bit so that it looks like I've had more.

                                                      1. I've tried to like:
                                                        black beans
                                                        strawberries (turns out I'm allergic too)

                                                        I don't like and don't care about:
                                                        bell peppers

                                                        I learned to like/love:

                                                        1. I never understood the concept of eating something you hate in hopes that you'll learn to like it because you feel like you're supposed to.

                                                          Of course there's a difference between disliking the taste of something and being grossed out by the concept of eating something. I think it's important to try everything at least once. But if you've tried mushrooms 50 times and hated them every time, or if you're finding it hard work, then why keep torturing yourself?

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Kagey

                                                            Greens, as in mess-o-greens.

                                                            Kagey, I know it sounds crazy, right? Here's why I do it though: Every week during the growing season, I get a box of veggies from the CSA farm. They decide what and how much you get. Often there are dark leafy greens like collards, mustard, whatever. I really dont like these things, but they're paid for already, and one of my roles in the family is the "eat anything guy." Another thing is, I know the dark leafies are good for you.

                                                            So I doctor them up with whatever pork piece is around, and plenty of hot sauce. They still taste like tobacco/wet lawn trimmings to me. But with enough masking, I've found I can even eat things like beet and turnip tops, that many people throw away in good conscience, anyway.

                                                            1. re: Kagey

                                                              Tastes change. I hated tomatoes for 23 years, but kept tasting them once a year or so just to make sure I still hated them. One day I didn't, and now I love them. Also, different preparations make a big difference: I made brussel sprouts for some sprout haters last Easter and many loved them, because they were used to them overcooked and smelly. I think it's important not to close yourself off to experiences just because you had one bad one.

                                                              1. re: Kagey

                                                                Point taken on trying things 50 times, but as a general answer I offer the idea that the best tastes are the acquired ones. Beer, oysters, Bob Dylan ...

                                                              2. Throw this one into the "used to avoid" list. Pumpkin. For years I didn't consider pumpkin "food" and thought that it was at its best carved into a toothful grin and lit up with a candle...and eventually composted. Even seasonal pumpkin pie had to be hidden under whip cream.
                                                                Now a roasted pumpkin and red pepper soup is a mainstay (garnished with toasted green pumpkin seeds...I love how they pop on a warm iron skillet.)
                                                                I don't think my shift in taste was due to try try and try again, I think it was realizing that it didn't have to be paired with cinnamon and nutmeg.
                                                                A similar realization helped me with eggplant, but thats another story.

                                                                1. I've come to like a ton of foods I used to dislike, but I can't get past olives. The thing that pisses me off so much about olives is that the higher quality they are, the more I hate them (which is very backwards, of course). I can choke down canned black olives on a pizza but very good olives that you might get in Italy or Provence? Forget it. I just tried again a few weeks ago when at a very good restaurant in Provence and as I soon as I put the little oil cured olive in my mouth I wanted to retch. Vile vile vile.

                                                                  1. I am the ulitmate former food phobic and the list of what I used to fear and what I'll eat now is just way too long to elaborate.

                                                                    However, I still have a problem with the smell of certain animals fats, so for most of my life I have been gagged by the smell of anything ovine. And yet, being a food-loving person, I loathe the thought of eliminating an entire species of stuff from my diet, so I am learning to like lamb.

                                                                    And one way to try something that used to make you flinch is to do it in a different context. I hate, loathe, despise and abominate sweet custard. Y'all can have my portion of creme brulee every time. But I love a savory custard, like a seafood custard topped with a fresh tomato sauce.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: jillp

                                                                      At last a soul mate! What IS it about sugar and cooked egg? That's really the only widely-eaten food I still really don't like. When we were served Isle Flottant (meringue floating on liquid custard, two things I can really do without) as a special dessert treat in France, my wife was SO proud of me for accepting a serving and then eating it...even though she, and everyone else BUT me at the table, had the day before refused a dish of Swiss chard.

                                                                    2. I have learned to like the Rum Nougat See's candy piece because my grandmother used to get those reject pieces along with the Caramel pieces (which I already loved). It started off with my just eating off the chocolate and then somehow progressed into the whole piece.

                                                                      For the life of me, I cannot eat blue-cheesey cheeses (incl. gorgonzola, camembert, the skins of brie, etc.), bitter melon (will eat but still hate), and for a time I stopped eating papaya because a friend said he didn't like it because it smelled like garbage (and it did!) but have recently "converted" back to eating it.

                                                                      I have eaten balut (sp?) only but one time. It tasted good but couldn't stomach a second.