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Merits and demerits of "trying to like" foods

The milk chocolate eater who wants to learn to like dark chocolate made me wonder... is it worth forcing yourself to eat things that you don't particularly like? (Not with the aim of gratifying others, but because you just don't want to miss out on any sources of deliciousness.) How many tries should you make? Can tastebuds really change in adulthood?

I have effort to thank for: goat cheese and blue cheese, lamb, artichokes, and dark beers. But I still can't get on with whisky, most types of offal and, weirdly, melon.

Success stories?

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  1. Your tastes do change over time. I don't really get "trying to like" foods, but I definitely think any adventurous eater should be willing to occasionally revisit foods that he didn't previously like. You might find yourself enjoying it now.

    But I don't think trying to frequently choke down something you dislike in the hopes that it will eventually click is a worthwhile cause.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jzerocsk

      That's exactly my philosophy. My family eats bocconcini every Sunday and I can't stand the taste. Every once in a while, I'll sneak a bite to check, and it always reminds that I really don't like that cheese.

      There are some acquired tastes - for me, blue cheese and beer. But I still don't like rum, and I don't think I should waste my money and tastebuds training myself to like it. There are so many thing I do like that I don't eat/drink often enough - I'll concentrate on those.

    2. I used to not like spicy foods at all. When I would get Thai food I would ask for it extra mild. That caused a problem when I would go out with friends and we would want to share, so I gradually got myself to try hotter and hotter foods. Now I like spicy food and I eat it even when I am alone.

      1. i poke around more with healthy food. took me awhile to find ways i liked broccoli and brussel sprouts. same with cereal, since i hate milk. but my recent discovery of fage yogurt was an epiphany for breakfast.

        i'm content knowing i don't care for ice cream or pudding and see no point in trying to like it. i'll get those empty calories elsewhere!

        1. I think your tastes change as time goes by for sure. I suddenly found myself enjoying beer for the first time in my life at the age of 47! I never liked it up until now. Don't know why I can appreciate it at this age, and couldn't when younger. Maybe it has to do with the fact that there are a lot of better quality brews out there now?

          I also used to love really spicy foods and find as I'm getting older I don't enjoy then to be as overwhelming as I did when younger. I have the opposite Thai problem as melsky. I have to order it separately because I now need it medium to mild.

          Our tastes evolve and devolve (is there such a word? I think not, but you get the gist). I'm always willing to try anything and everything because I never know what might be interesting to me.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sivyaleah

            You give me hope! I have never liked beer and am in my early 40s. Maybe I won't give up after all.

            I also am a big fan of not giving up on food. Thought I didn't like avacados for years. I just never thought they tasted like anything. After I became an adult and starting traveling to more places were avocados were freasher, I found I do like them, just not very many of the ones I can get in Indiana.

            1. re: bonmann

              That was my experience with avocados, too, and then I moved to California. Made a world of difference. Now I love them.

          2. There's no harm in trying something (as long as it isn't snuck on you!) but you can't force your opinions to change! I re-try things all of the time - okra, melons, beets, havarti and cajole my husband into the same - but I can't go into it expecting miracles, only hoping to find some interesting toehold that escaped you in previous ventures.

            I've been successful with cucumbers and some raw mushrooms (cooked are splendid). Now I'll treat myself to both regularly. But the aforementioned? No way! I will try the okra again this summer ... there's a lady at the farmer's market with some nice-looking okra.

            4 Replies
            1. re: odkaty

              An easy way to like okra is to rinse it, let it airdry, then cut into little "wheels", dredge in flour, and fry til crispy in slightly browned butter (or part olive oil, part butter). Add a little sea salt when cooked, and inhale! This way of preparing takes care of the DSF (Dreaded Slime Factor), and what is not delicious dredged in flour and fried in butter?

              1. re: Seldomsated

                Skip the flour and go right to the cornmeal. I use olive oil and cook the okra wheels on each side for a few minutes till nice and golden brown. Just let it sit for a minute or two after cooking or you'll scald the inside of your mouth. I could easily put down 5 lbs of okra cooked this way.

                1. re: ESNY

                  My mom has always cooked okra like this. We have always loved it. Even my sister, who at age 35 still has not outgrown her tendency to be picky (she actually likes it just a little burnt).

              2. re: odkaty

                Thanks! I'll try both methods. A friend makes some sort of gumbo stew thing (no clue) that I'm going to steal the recipe for, make it vegetarian, and see what happens. I might try pickling them too. Okra can't be that bad - they're cute!

              3. I agree that your tastes change. I once read that they change very 7 years or so. I've always been very adventurous when it comes to trying new foods. I will try something several times before deciding I don't like it. One that I've tried since I was a kid is cantaloupe and honeydew melon, I just can not eat those. I do love watermelon!

                3 Replies
                1. re: alliedawn_98

                  I heard that too about the every 7 years thing.

                  I've always liked cantaloupe--with salt--but honeydew doesn't interest me. And I do NOT like watermelon. Nothing to do with the flavor, but I find the texture annoying.

                  1. re: revsharkie

                    supposidly it takes your body 7 years to regenerate all the cells in your body. perhaps this coincides with this and we're all actually getting new tastebuds ;)

                    i've learned to love the stinkiest of blues, the hoppiest of beers, the most tannic of wines... otherwise i've loved it all. sometimes i find the reason for dislike is simply being repeatedly given bad quality anything. going back to the avocado story above.

                    1. re: revsharkie

                      I'm w/ you, sort of. I LOVE honeydew, though I'm actually allergic (sore throat) and eat it anyway. I'll tolerate good cantaloupe. I HATE watermelon... absolutely useless :-)

                      The 7 years thing is approximately true. Your taste buds turn over at about that rate.

                  2. I'm always game to try something I haven't liked before with few exceptions. Especially if it's something others rave about. Sometimes I change my mind, sometimes not. I'm of the big tent theory - the more things I enjoy, the more pleasure I'll get out of life. If I take a small taste and still don't like it, there's no harm done.

                    I always dislike pumpkin pie until I had a piece mostly to please the baker. And loved it. And the first time I tasted good mole poblano I started to like Mexican food. I wouldn't eat hot spices as a child but crave them now. And so on.

                    I still don't like uni, won't touch any fresh blood products and don't like beef. But I'm open to being seduced on these too.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cheryl_h

                      When I first started eating uni, I also was not a fan of it. but I have leanred from a wonderful sushi master to love it. He started me off with baby steps, mixing the uni w/other stuff which made for interesting sushi. Anyways, now I love uni and wouldn't think of having sushi w/out it. One note, I have tried it at various places and if it is not extremely fresh, it just isn't worth it.

                      1. re: cheryl_h

                        I didn't like salmon until I lived in WA. It so makes a difference if you are eating farm raised salmon or wild. Now that I know what they do with farm raised salmon, I really don't like it. I will tolerate it, but it always seems to be so fishy.

                      2. Yes and no. I'm glad I kept trying raw tomatoes, because I found out there's one or two ways I like them. But there's no way I'm going to force myself to love them in every mediocre salad that comes my way.
                        And it's definitely worth it with cheese. Every year I discover a new type of cheese that I thought I wouldn't like that it turns out I love. This year it was aged gouda and aged cheddar -- I hate supermarket cheddar so I never thought I could appreciate "orange cheese" until I tasted some wonderful Wisconsin aged cheddars.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Chowpatty

                          One way to enjoy tomatoes, and cheese together, is ripe, cut-up tomatoes, mixed with crumbled feta cheese, with sea salt and cracked black pepper. They truly complement one another, and the combo makes a great alternative to salads with greens!

                          1. re: Seldomsated

                            fresh local tomatoes are sublime. those trucked for 100s or 1000s of miles aren't worth eating. seasonality has much to do with flavor.

                        2. Coffee

                          Did anyone really like their first cup of coffee? Sure, smells great but it is an aquired taste. Eventually I weaned myself off the sugar, but still need milk in it.

                          I really don't swear off anything anymore. A lousy dish one place is great elsewhere. I don't think there's really a limit for anyone willing to take a chance.

                          Menudo is one of those dishes. Some are great and others are offal.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: rworange

                            Funny you should say but I have never thought it smelled that good and that is one of the reasons I still don't like coffee. But I know I am in the minority on this one.

                            1. re: rworange

                              My granny started me really early with half-milk coffee with a ton of sugar. Then she'd complain that I couldn't settle down. But I can't remember a time when I did not drink coffee. I'm drinking some right now!

                              1. re: melsky

                                my grandmother did the same to me!! I can't remember a time I DIDN'T drink coffee...but I got so used to it drowned in cream and sugar that now it is an occasional luxury for me because it's so fatty and sugary the way I prefer it. Still can't get behind black coffee.

                              2. re: rworange

                                While I was growing up my father would save me the bottom two fingers' worth of his black coffee- the really sugary bit. I still like coffee black, but with less sugar.

                                I tried to like (or even tolerate) raw tomatoes for years, and it paid off. I find myself now asking my dining companions for their unwanted tomatoes from salads, or whatever.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  I tried all kinds of combos/proportions of coffee with milk/cream and sugar in college, and still don't like it. I do like the smell, and I do like coffee ice cream. (I tend to be "pickier" about what I drink more than what I eat.) Perhaps with the abundance of good quality coffee these days, I might find a combo I like, but it seems an expensive habit to cultivate. It would be nice for those after dinner social moments (since the only hot drinks I like are green tea and hot cocoa, which many restaurants (or friends) don't offer). But if I developed a taste for the expensive stuff, that doesn't exactly make me an easier after-dinner companion ;-) So I haven't pursued it. I take my caffeine carbonated.

                                  FWIW, my family is a family of coffee drinkers. My mother stopped adding sugar and milk when dad got a single-engine plane, for the practical reason that it was too much trouble to pack two thermoses, and decided to share with dad. She still drinks it black, though the plane is long gone. I learned to start the coffeemaker early in life, but couldn't tell you if my brew is any good.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    My grandpa would spoon 3 or 4 teaspoons of coffee into my glass of milk. Now I wonder how long it'll be before I try that with my preschooler.

                                    1. re: Josie

                                      DON'T DO IT!!! I am a bit of a "coffee-hound", if you will, and have allowed my daughter to sample coffee with warm milk and a little sugar. Now every weekend morning I hear- "please mama, warm coffee with milk ," with an outstretched sippy cup. Ug-- I've created a monster!! Maybe it comes from watching too many Gilmore Girls episodes with my 3 year old. But, a little tiny part of me inside is proud that she doesn't take any sugar anymore, even if it does make her have to pee all day.

                                      1. re: Lazy Susan

                                        Hahaha. <-- that was the wry laugh of self-recognition!

                                        Your preschoolers can hang with mine! When I make a cappuccino, he gets one, too. Mine is moslty espresso, of course, and his is mostly froth, sometimes with a little sprinkle of cocoa.

                                  2. Coffee, Thai food, dark chocolate are examples for me. I think of it as an evolution of taste, rather than a revolution. My preferences for the taste and texture of foods has not made major changes, but rather a subtle expansion over my short years enjoying food. In reality, my tastes did not change until I was exposed to good examples of new food, like my first good latte, excellent Thai meal, or dark chocolate candy bar (Scharffen Berger of course!). I have found that expanding my horizons also makes me appreciate the old palette more!

                                    1. A girl friend of mine is currently trying to like sushi and seafood. She wasn't grown up on them.

                                      I was brought up to eat everything because my mother was an immigrant and would guilt trip me about her family back home being poor and not being able to afford food. Unfortunately, this made me seem weird to other kids who were picky eaters nor were they exposed to foods from other cultures (save for Italian and basic Mexican). And I'd be chowing down on duck eggs and snails.

                                      1. I was a pretty adventuresome eater from a young age, but there were still certain exotic ingredients I didn't try until I was older. One such dish, uni, I did NOT like at all when I first had it -- it was a texture and probably also a quality issue the first few times I tried it. Everyone I know who is into sushi adored it, so I kept trying until BINGO! I was at a place that served very fresh, high-quality uni and I finally got it. I think the quality issue is a BIG one when it comes to certain things like uni, or some cheeses, or offal. If they are not fresh, or properly ripened, or well-prepared, they are not good at all. But when done right, delicious!

                                        I also did not like raw tomatoes as a child (in the 1970s), but again I think that is a function of the quality issue. Nowadays, with the proliferation of Farmer's Markets, etc., you can get good raw tomatoes in season, and they are a wholly different beast than the mealy, cardboard-like flavorless examples that I was served as a child.

                                        1. Of course your tastes change and develop over time. My mom was a great cook when I was growing up, unfortunately, my dad was not an adventurous eater. So, most of what we had growing up was primarily simple meat and potatoes type dishes. We also never ate out. Today, I eat a wide variety of cuisines and enjoy them. However, I don't really think you are going to make yourself like something by eating it over and over. I will try things some number of times before I essentialy reject them for good.

                                          The things I've really developed a taste for over time are -
                                          steak tar tar

                                          The things i've lost a taste for

                                          I think about the only thing I've totally written off is haggis.

                                          1. I have tried to like salmon, steaks and fillets for 35 years. To me it is just vile gag reflex starts up at the sight of it. In recent years I have lost a taste for Brussels Sprouts

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Candy

                                              You might revive your taste for Brussels Sprouts by roasting them with a little olive oil, garlic and onion

                                              1. re: Den

                                                I second that. Or you can steam them first then roast them. I suggest adding a good splash of white wine to the mix.

                                                1. re: hooliganyouth

                                                  I've done them anyway you can think of including Keller's Bouchon recipe for them in a mustard sauce. The sauce was tasty but the sprouts just taste very bitter to me even roasted.

                                            2. I like to consider myself fairly adventerous and at times possibly mental when it comes to hot and spicy (my one true addiction).

                                              I have problems with texture more than taste. Overly creamy, slimy, drippy, oozing, or gelatinous makes my flesh crawl. Cream gravy makes me turn green. Cream of mushroom or worse cream of chicken is fairly revolting. Oddly enough I fiend for chowders and bouilabaise.

                                              Baby food and most canned vegetables (i.e. french cut string beans) make me gag.

                                              I really would prefer not to eat organs, offal, eyes (texture), assorted guts or viscera.

                                              I'm extremely comfortable with every asian cuisine except Korean.

                                              I'm not hip to Indian or Middle Eastern food in the least and I've been taken to both "good" restaurants and had home cooked.

                                              For some peculiar reason I've never had much of a sweet tooth even as a kid.

                                              I think the last time I had a "I really don't want to eat that." moment was at a Korean sushi joint and a buddy of mine and I both ordered baby octopus. When it came out and was a full and complete baby octo in sauce our dates laughed at us. We had a long slug of beer and a bit of "No you eat it first." It was really quite tasty, the sauce was smoky and briny and the octo had a wonderful pop and crunch to it.

                                              1. I don't know about this. I have always disliked certain vegetables and to this day cannot tolerate them except in certain preparations. For example green beans, the only way I can eat them is pickled like dilly beans. I've tried them every way possible and don't like them at the Chinese restaurant, tempura, blanched, sauteed. Something about the flavor doesn't appeal to me at all.

                                                Same thing with beets. I can't eat them and don't understand how they can be described as sweet.

                                                I have acquired a taste for beer over the years, but I am pretty picky still. I don't care for the standard American mass produced stuff like Miller, Coors, Bud, etc.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: lisaf

                                                  I have always loved beets but I know to some people they taste too earthy. You might look for the golden variety (really orangy-yellow) and give them a taste. They really are sweet and were quite a surprise the first time I ever grew and cooked them.

                                                  1. re: lisaf

                                                    Terra Chips makes a "Sweets & Beets" chip that is a combo of sweet potatoes and beets, and they are unbelievably good. I developed a real taste for beets from eating a few bags of these, but before this I really didn't care for them.

                                                    Now I make roasted beets (gold and red) with pearl onions (olive oil, thyme, salt & pepper), in a hot oven inside a loosely sealed foil tent. So good. And truly sweet. The roasting caramelizes the beets and makes them super delicious.

                                                  2. It's totally worth it to keep re-trying things over time. I wouldn't eat avocados, tomatos, or sushi now if I hadn't! The horror!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. I used to think I disliked octopus, but this past weekend, I was in southern California and tried it again at my brother's urging. I liked it! I think this time it was fresh, not thawed from frozen, and an entirely different texture. Really enjoyable.

                                                      Other things I feared I might not like, but did: uni, glutinous rice, pumpkin seeds, black licorice, brined olives. There are a few things I am entirely intimidated by, though: tendon, tripe, organ meats, foie gras, chicken feet, and blood. I just can't get past the gross out factor on these.

                                                      1. I do not try to force myself to like things that I don't, but I do try to make sure I taste anything I "don't like" if it's been prepared differently than I'm used to. I figure I never know what I'm missing. I used to HATE beets, and then there was the Great Beet Revival a few years ago, when you couldn't open a food magazine without seeing them splattered everywhere. I thought "bah", but then I had some roasted beets at Osteria Via Stato in Chicago and thought they were some of the best things I'd ever put in my mouth. I'm still picky about my beets, but I do like them now, when cooked well. Same with broccoli and cauliflower. Steamed, "meh." But roasted. Holy cow, that's good stuff.

                                                        But I still hate peas. Period. And I'm NOT going to eat them just to learn to like them, Mother.

                                                        1. I'm sure many of you recall loving things like twinkies and three muskateers bars. To my dismay, the twinkies taste like chemicals and the candy bar is sickingly sweet to my tastes now :{ However, I used to despise olives and I can literally live on good bread and olive oil now! While people have mentioned beer, no one I believe has mentioned wine. As I'm Jewish I grew up on grape juice and manischevitz (which is as close to grape juice as wine can get!) and while I can appreciate red wine with a good dinner, it rarely comes close to a good glass of manischevitz for me! I tell myself that at least I can drink wine- I actually feel bad about the fact that I despise all cheese (exception is ricotta but only in Italian cheesecake because it doesn't taste "cheesy"). I promised a friend that when we went to France I'd try "real" French cheese as obviously there is supposed to be a significant difference. I never refuse to try something so I did with the brie that he was salivating over...and nearly choked. The only thing that bothers me is when people seriously think that there is something strange about it- if food is subjective then why would my personal dislikes be any more strange than someone else's? We all have to realize that there's nothing wrong with trying to like something and every now and then it may even work!, but frankly, it's just not that important:}

                                                          1. Perhaps sensitive now that I am dating a former picky eater and have never really encountered someone like that before (I know, I must have been sheltered).

                                                            So...my theory.

                                                            If you have HONESTLY tasted something and gave it a VERY real chance (in adult years) and it was WELL-PREPARED with GOOD QUALITY ingredients, and you still hate it after "trying to like it"? I will never make you try it again, ever, and no discussion will be neccessary. Stop forcing yourself. :)

                                                            But, if you have never tried it, your mom hated it, you "think" you hate it, etc. then I think you should regularly try a well-prepared, quality preparation of it.

                                                            I have converted (or further converted what already was beginning) my boyfriend over to brussels sprouts, cauliflower, tomato-bases sauces & broths, meatloaf, sweet potatoes, sushi, red wine, truffles, fresh herbs, potato gratin and many other foods just by insisting he try one bite.

                                                            1. I have some in both categories...

                                                              I learned to like melon, now love it, even though honeydew makes my throat sore.
                                                              Scallops, I think were a texture thing at first.
                                                              Basil and Oregano

                                                              I have tried to like and just can't stand (and multiple testings... I'm willing to try anything once, and with certain foods keep trying to convince myself b/c of nutritional greatness)...

                                                              Bananas (make me want to gag, and I retry every few years when I *think* one sounds good)
                                                              Oranges... give me the willies
                                                              Avocado/Guacamole (I've given up despite all the people that say "well *my* guacamole is different)
                                                              Almonds/Nuts in general (wish I liked almonds for the good fats)
                                                              Salmon (just can't stand the taste... and I take bites of others when they rave about their dishes)
                                                              Cilantro/Ginger (I'd rather eat my face soap)
                                                              Sandwiches (like all things separately but together, blech)

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Emme

                                                                I hear that a strong dislike of cilantro, where it tastes like soap to the taster, is actually a genetic predisposition.

                                                                1. re: ballulah

                                                                  Yes, and it goes w/ ginger supposedly as well. The majority of cilantro haters also dislike ginger, and perceive their tastes as soapy.

                                                                  1. re: Emme

                                                                    wow, thank you for the info. I too absolutely despise ginger, and cilantro to a lesser extent. I feel so much better about my weird dislikes now.. =)

                                                              2. It depends on the item. If it's something that's not a particularly healthy food, I figure it it's great that there's something bad for me that I don't like. If it's something that is particularly healthy, I try again every once in a while, particularly if it's in a new preparation that I might like better. And if I think that the reason I didn't like something is that it wasn't done well, then I try again when I have the chance to eat it at a place known to prepare the food in a better way. For example, the first time I had Mexican food and the first time I had Indian food, I didn't think they were that good. But it wasn't that I don't like that type of food, it's that the restauarants I first ate at weren't the best representation of that food genre.

                                                                And if it is something that I don't like the idea of eating at all (bugs) I think trying once is one time too many.

                                                                1. Just wanted to observe the timeliness of this thread, since today is Dr Seuss' birthday. My kids read Green Eggs and Ham at preschool and had green eggs and ham for snack. Well, my 4-year-old assured me that it was green food coloring, and he only tried the ham and not the eggs. (Because he would not could not eat eggs, any color, anywhere. Sigh.)

                                                                  1. It's worth it to try new things. I was certainly one of the world's pickiest eaters in my youth and I am delighted to have learned that there are more foods out there that I like.

                                                                    Your taste buds change as you age. It takes longer for the taste buds that can sense bitter flavors to develop, which is why little kids gravitate toward sweet, salty and bland foods - they didn't keep trying the different flavors after those other taste buds developed.

                                                                    As we age, our taste buds diminish and we need more strongly-flavored foods to get the same flavor rush we had from less complex foods when we were young. This is why your grandparents always tell you that "things don't taste as good as they used to." They're right - not only have ingredients changed (for the worse, usually), but their own taste buds have faded and they can't enjoy what they used to.

                                                                    Right now I'm trying to teach myself to enjoy lamb, since the fat from ovines makes me gag, and that includes goat and sheep's milk cheeses. I just hate the idea of losing out on an entire category of meat and cheese, so I keep trying to find ways I can enjoy it.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: jillp

                                                                      i used to feel exactly the same way (OP above) but think i've now conquered my ovine aversion! for me the breakthrough came with lean cuts of lamb (it was the oily sour tasting lamb chops i was served as a child that put me off, i think). indian style lamb kebabs and stews made from lean meat might be a good place to start. i first got to like goat's cheese in the classic french bistro salad, with a piece of warm cheese served over a large bread crouton. maybe the temperature, or the astringent vinaigrette removed some of that--erm--goatiness?
                                                                      good luck and keep trying...

                                                                    2. JillP,

                                                                      Not trying to stir up drama at all, but as an eat-anything person, I have always been SO curious, what makes you gag about (in your case lamb)?

                                                                      The sight? The smell? The texture? All combined? When does the nauea set in? What exactly causes it?

                                                                      Just a curious person who is trying to be more tolerant of pickier eaters and can't understand when they "just don't like it." I know it sounds dumb, but I truly am trying to understand the physical and/or mental reaction so I can be more sensitive. But for now, it's like someone telling me they can't hear music - it's just so hard to accept!

                                                                      I mean, is it an allergy, or something else?? Just curious. :)


                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: HomeCookKirsten

                                                                        I am over 50 years old yet have never tried "small" game such as squab,cornish hens, and have never tasted duck and don't even talk about rabbit or deer. Never. As a child, I didn't like to eat "animals" that were cute.Blame it on Disney perhaps. Yes, I even had the teenage years of going without all meat. Now, I guess it is the fear of the unknown holding me back and habit. It is safe to say I am probably one of the picky eaters you are talking about. I find it a burden being picky especially when out with friends and something is served I don't eat. Hate to make excuses all the time for my psyche. I do eat everything else -dairy, vegs, fruits, grains, but can't get over the emotions of eating those kind of meats.

                                                                        1. re: HomeCookKirsten

                                                                          It varies based on the food. There are some things that have an unpleasant aroma that makes me feel a bit nauseated, just like (though not as strongly as) I often feel if I get a wiff of vomit.

                                                                          There are some flavors I find unpleasant, but they don't make me gag or anything (coffee, beer). But then there are things like seafood (anything aquatic, including seaweed), that even if I swallow so quickly that I don't taste it (like bits of seaweed in a soup), once it hits my stomach, if not before, it induces immediate reverse peristalsis. This is not quite an allergy (no hives or anaphylactic shock as I get with tree nuts), but is strong enough and consistent enough that my doc suggested I may have a sensitivity to something in seafood; a friend of mine with a similar reaction was told that she is hyper-sensitive to mercury which occurs in seafood.

                                                                          To try to get a sense for what people mean by "just don't like" (as opposed to "it makes me violently sick") -- what do you think of the taste of the average cough syrup? I have no problem getting it down when needed, but I wouldn't want to drink something that tasted like that as an aperitif! Actually, while every once in a while I try a sip of my husband's scotch to see if my tastes have changed, every time I do, it reminds me of cough syrup.

                                                                          1. re: HomeCookKirsten

                                                                            As someone mentioned below, the fat from lamb, sheep, mutton, goat - anything ovine - smells like vomit to me. The only way I can eat it is to have as much fat as possible removed. I cannot eat cheeses made from sheep or goat milk, either, because they also smell like vomit.

                                                                            I can also taste lard when it's used in pie crust, which is not big deal if it's a chicken pie but tastes mighty strange with apple or cherry.

                                                                            Oh, and let's not forget that fun ability of smelling boar taint I have - that's nearly enough to turn me into a vegan.

                                                                            1. re: HomeCookKirsten

                                                                              I consider myself an eat-anything person, but I gag over liver. It's the smell. The texture and taste bother me, too, but I don't get that close anymore.

                                                                            2. "Trying to like"????

                                                                              What a crock. Life's too short. Eat what tastes good, and if you're convinced that food is medicine, well, just hold your nose and suck down the dark chocolate or whatever fad you're falling for, and don't even pretend you "like" it.

                                                                              Do it because you "should." And, later, figure out that you could have had a cheeseburger.

                                                                              1. SO fascinating. Thanks everyone for humoring me with describing what makes it so nauseating. I really was curious and not trying to be annoying. :)

                                                                                It's just so amazing that we are all people yet our sense of smell, taste, sight and more are so varied person to person.

                                                                                I really do try to be sensitive to people who "hate" foods, and understanding more about how it may truly smell as bad as vomit helps me understand better. :)

                                                                                1. I've learnt the hard way there are certain things my body would just rather I not eat, regardless of how I feel about the taste.

                                                                                  Quail egg on top of tobiko sushi will not be swallowed, my throat will not allow it.
                                                                                  That piece of squid in Seoul so chewy my teeth couldn't break it down was directly attached to the gag reflex at the bottom of my stomach.
                                                                                  I suspect I shall run into a few more uneatable items before my days are done.

                                                                                  Food that I just don't like the taste of . . . like Bonito flakes, I taste periodically in case my tastes change. But I don't force it. Soya milk is a good example of this -- have hated it since childhood but people keep saying _this_ one is so much better, and I try it again . . . it all taste like rotted cotton to me.

                                                                                  1. From childhood, I refused to eat olives, but somewhere around 10 or 12 years ago I tried a recipe with kalamatas marinated in oil with garlic and orange zest. Loved them, and now eat all sorts of olives, quite happily. I think tastes can change- -and in both directions--but I wouldn't force myself to eat something that makes me gag (some of those Asian dried fish products come to mind).

                                                                                    1. As number 8 of 9 children, I was labeled the picky eater. Just so we're all clear, my dislikes included:
                                                                                      Indian Curry
                                                                                      Brussel sprouts

                                                                                      Yes, that's my long list that caused my parents so much anguish. To this day, the only one of these that I can honestly say I love is stuffing. I will accept a small amout of raw cabbage on my fish tacos for the crunch but otherwise, the list holds firm.

                                                                                      The othe oddity is my dislike for nuts. Take peanuts (which I know are legumes), I love creamy peanut butter, hate crunchy -- love Reese's -- hate peanut butter cookies. I can handle an occasional almond or hazelnut in something I'm eating, but would rather not have them around. Those are the two whose flavors I actually do enjoy. But get to those hearty nuts like walnuts, cashews, brazils, pistachios, and it's still YUCK! But looking back, every year my Christmas stocking would have a handful of those evil unshelled wastes of space and every year I was told Santa was in too much of a hurry to differentiate between our stockings...

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Paladar

                                                                                        ALL Indian curries? You're missing out, that's a huge category with lots of different flavors.

                                                                                        1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                                                          Okay, you do have me there. I have had a couple of very light, coconut-based Indian curries from one specific region that I did like. But my Mom always made the standard American curry (we're not of Indian ancestry) with the 20 lbs of curry powder from Schilling.

                                                                                        2. re: Paladar

                                                                                          I share your disdain for nuts... wish I liked almonds, considering they're great for you. I feel the same on PB, creamy only. However, my caveat is I do like pistachios... they're not *really* nuts though IMO :-)

                                                                                        3. I have long carried around a distinct memory that somewhere in The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten says that you will learn to like anything if you try it 13 times. I can't find it, but the introduction is a short chapter about how he made a list of foods that repulsed him and learned to like them, which is entertaining. In there he does refer to research that says that most babies will accept nearly any food after eight or ten tries.

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: wombat

                                                                                            My kiddo holds to that "multiple tastes" rule -- it usually takes about ten separate exposures to a food for her to get to being cool with something she's initially iffy on. Not necessarily to say that she *likes* it -- just that it's no longer greeted with "eww, I don't like that", and can be an ordinary non-topic part of a meal.

                                                                                            In general, I think the merits and demerits of trying to like foods are pretty simple -- meritwise, there is the potential of finding new goods things to eat, and not being thought "picky". Demeritwise, you do end up eating things sometimes that just don't taste so good, or you don't really care for.

                                                                                            1. re: AnnaEA

                                                                                              I just wanted to underscore what Anna says : it's not that babies/small children definitely *will like* the new food after it's been introduced many times, it's that after than many times it may not be instantly rejected. (That's not anecdotal, that's the finding of the widely-cited studies.)

                                                                                              Or you may luck out and get a kid who genuinely liks to try new things. Really - such kids exist.

                                                                                              1. re: Mawrter

                                                                                                Anecdotally, the frustrating part for the parents is the kids who will put anything off the floor in their mouth, but refuse to even try perfectly good food on their plates ;-)

                                                                                            2. re: wombat

                                                                                              In Brian Wansink's "Mindless Eating." I ran across the statistic that it takes FIFTEEN tries to make something palatable. Or at least bearable. Anyway, I suspect that it's more wrangling than most parents would be willing to suffer.

                                                                                            3. I don't consider myself a truly picky eater -- I know someone we jokingly call panda because there are so many things she won't eat -- but I think you have to revisit. Tomatoes, if all you've had are supermarket, are blech! But if you have some grown from your gram's garden, or from a good organic garden - yum!

                                                                                              I'm halfway psyching myself up for a trip to the French Laundry because I'm so terrible about seafood. Learned food aversion -- gram used to fry Salmon in a pan in the house...which drove me into the backyard and away from a rich fish like Salmon. And even away from the lightest, like Halibut...then again, I eat some shellfish, so there you go...learned food aversion.

                                                                                              But like another poster above, I always equated beets w/ canned salad bar beets...well no kidding, they taste like dirt...and metal cans! Roast yourself some beets and have a totally new experience. That said, I still haven't gotten brussell sprouts. I tried getting them at the farmers market and roasting them, and still found them too pungent (and I like cabbage). Go figure!

                                                                                              1. I have been one of those who fall under the "try it so as not to put others out" crowd, such as trying to like mushrooms so I wasn't the one who everyone else had to order around my "no mushrooms please" request. I think it started in college. But it's worked, and though I don't like mushrooms categorically, I can't imagine a nice steak without some nicely sauteed mushrooms (in butter, garlic and red wine). And I have also taught myself to like raw tomatoes, onion, peppers, etc. Your tastes change... just like how I used to love to drink Lambrusco in college, I now can't stand the sight of it and much prefer a dry merlot or burgandy.

                                                                                                Of course, I am all about "carpe diem" and enjoying what you like, right now. Crunched up oreos and ice cream are still one of my faves. Must be the hedonist in me. Of course, you can't beat a nicely grilled portobella with a lovely cab any day, which I wouldn't have been able to choke down, even on a good day, 10 years ago.

                                                                                                1. agree brussel sprouts are inedible in all forms and I have tried them numerous times but just can't get to like them.

                                                                                                  Turkey has a smell to it that I can't abide.

                                                                                                  I cannot get used to the idea of raw fish as in sushi or gravad lax.

                                                                                                  Capers are bleh

                                                                                                  so are sundried tomatoes.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: smartie

                                                                                                    Okay, now that is interesting to me, because I didn't like sushi when I first tried it (20 years ago), and I deliberately ate more lox in order to "bridge" to sushi, and it worked. I was very lukewarm about lox, but I developed a taste for it, and then from there it was a short leap to appreciating sushi.

                                                                                                    I don't really try to develop a taste for many things lately, but after reading your posting, I realize I did when I was younger, and I'm so glad. I don't think I really do that anymore - I don't really *want* to get over my aversion to organ meat, for example, and of course I have preferences.

                                                                                                    As someone said above, I might give it more of a shot with something healthy than not. A junk food I dislike? Who cares; but for something with a great health benefit, I'll try it over and over. And I will more-or-less cheerfully suffer through some things I dislike for healthful effects: Brewer's yeast, fish oil, red raspberry leaf tea. Of course, I don't like those things, but they don't repulse me.

                                                                                                  2. I remembered something I hate - casseroles or dishes made with Campbell's Soup. Campbell's tomato soup is an abomination - most people I know only like it for nostalgia's sakes. Casseroles make my flesh crawl. As do "surprises". Oh yeah and deep-fried candy bars hold no appeal - though I really want to get my hands on some chicken-fried bacon.

                                                                                                    1. My tastes have definitely evolved over the years. I didn't like salmon until I was in my early 40s and now I love it, and am more willing to try foods I thought I hated as a result of this. I've also found that reading about food, and reading recipes (which I love to do) has made me more interested in tasting new things. I still don't like mushrooms or eggs (except maybe a few scrambled bits in pad thai) but I have more of an appreciation for how their flavors might affect the taste of a dish and am willing to cook with them, even if I pick the actual pieces out. I guess I got tired of considering myself a picky eater and so decided I was just going to be more adventurous. Ok, I'm no Tony Bourdain, but ya gotta start somewhere!

                                                                                                      1. I have many times, over a period of years, to aquire a taste for sushi. It's just not happening. The main thing for me is nori--it makes me gag to have it in my mouth. But even non-nori'd sushi doesn't do it for me.
                                                                                                        I'll try it again every year or so, but so far, I am just not liking it.

                                                                                                        I didn't like mushrooms until I ate them in cooking school. I'm still not crazy about their texture, but I love the earthy flavor.

                                                                                                        I've also come around on shrimp. Not my favorite food, but good enough. And I used to be icked out just by the smell of cooking shrimp.

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: manraysky

                                                                                                          I CAN'T STAND nori... If you don't like sushi, you don't have to eat it; however, I LOVE rolls made w/ soy paper... completely different, and I even love eating sheets of soy paper alone (yeah I'm a tad bit odd).

                                                                                                          1. re: Emme

                                                                                                            Huh. That's interesting. Granted, I tend to see sushi as "stuff I don't really like, wrapped in something completely foul." But I'd still be willing to try soy paper. Thanks for the suggestion.

                                                                                                            1. re: manraysky

                                                                                                              Nori is foul :-) It reminds me of being at the beach and accidentally swallowing sea water and taking it in through my nose... Seaweed tastes like sea water... shocker. But, yes, do try soy paper, such a difference, mild, unobtrusive, and try it with milder fish... I LOVE sushi, but only the milder fish (I can't stand salmon (cooked or raw) or yellowtail, if that helps).

                                                                                                        2. I have pretty much grown a tolerance for everything that is edible, except melons. And its strange because there has been no food-poisoning incdent or negative-association incident that may have caused this. Bring on the Uni and blood sausage. Forget your fruit salad.

                                                                                                          1. There are some delicacies, such as caviar, that I deliberately DON'T develop a taste for. My wallet thanks me.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: lora

                                                                                                              I'm with you. If I don't like it, and it's super expensive, I don't feel I need to go out of my way to try to like it.

                                                                                                              1. re: manraysky

                                                                                                                This reminds me of my first - and only - ski experience when I was about 12. Mean teacher, many falls, pain... When well-meaning friends suggested I keep trying my response was "it costs a lot of money, you're out in the cold, and the chance of being in pain is very high, no thank you!" I'd rather just stay in the ski lodge drinking lots of hot chocolate!

                                                                                                            2. For me it's about being food savvy. It is not my goal to like or enjoy everything but rather to understand what makes a particular food interesting. Now, if as a result I grow to enjoy it; wonderful. But one thing for sure is that I will emerge from the experience wiser about food.

                                                                                                              1. I generally will try almost everything, at least once, even if I am sure I don't like it. The exceptions are zucchini and kiwi. (And actually, I have been known to eat zucchini in bread or cake, or even sticks of it breaded and deep-fried before I knew what I was eating, but if it shows up in all its glory on my plate you can be guaranteed that I will pick it out of whatever it's in.) The zucchini I think has to do with getting sick after eating some when I was very, very small (although I once got sick after eating taco salad and I don't have a similar aversion to that!). I can't stand the way it gets all slimy and stringy when it's cooked and the seeds and goo get all over everything.

                                                                                                                I have no explanation for kiwi. When I eat it, I gag. It's not the taste or the texture or anything else; I just gag.

                                                                                                                When I was a kid I liked beef liver. Wouldn't go near it now.

                                                                                                                But there are lots of things I would not eat when I was younger that I love now, like mushmelons, mushrooms, shrimp, guacamole, peppers, tempura, etc.

                                                                                                                You still will never get me near a runny-yolk egg. Sorry. I have no intention of "trying to like" those, and I was forced to eat them many more than 15 times growing up. Yeeeecccch.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                  I'm with in that I'll try anything once... unless it has bananas, avocadoes, or blue cheese in it... all of those make me gag.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Emme

                                                                                                                    Interesting, you also mention above that you are allergic to honeydew. I am also allergic to honeydew...but also bananas and avocados. Avocados I love too much not to eat, but afterwards I have an itchy throat and swollen inner ear canals, but bananas and honeydew I can do without completely. I'm also allergic to mangoes, and to a lesser extent kiwis. Before this thread I didn't know of anyone else allergic to melons. Are you also allergic to cantaloupe? (I am!)

                                                                                                                2. I can't get on with cruchy vegetables. I like them well cooked.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: coombe

                                                                                                                    as a child i was an alarmingly picky eater. I ate:
                                                                                                                    bowties with pesto
                                                                                                                    salads with carrots cut into little coins (carrot money)
                                                                                                                    white rice
                                                                                                                    and basically any and all desserts put in front of me. (at 5, when we went to Vienna, the only thing I wanted to know in german is "with whipped cream, please")

                                                                                                                    all of this to my poor mother's dismay until...

                                                                                                                    at my grandfather's bbq at age 12 the only vaguely edible looking food was tandoori chicken. and from there, i've been much more experimental. and although i don't really eat meat these days, the only food which I am fundamentally adverse to is shrimp. And that is because i can't think of them as anything but spider's close relatives.

                                                                                                                    1. re: relizabeth

                                                                                                                      I grew up in a very poor household so I ate or there was nothing else, so I eat almost anything, but it still took me into my late 20's to like olives, spicy curries and lamb.

                                                                                                                      I also used to love creamy cow cheeses, now I favor sheep and goat more.

                                                                                                                      I used to put so much sugar and 1/2 and 1/2 in my coffee that it was a beverage and not coffee. Now I am at the minimal just a dash of each if it is a strong brew and almost nothing if it smooth.

                                                                                                                      The evolution of your palate should also be compared with your weight, stress levels, where you live in the world, if you smoke, economic level, etc. They seem to be closely intertwined.

                                                                                                                  2. after about 5 times i have succeeded in making myself enjoy, even crave natto, but only the black soy type so far. as a kid i gagged when i ate walnuts, but i've started to appreciate the flavor, and even though i don't neccessarily "like" them, i don't mind eating them at all. i still do not like liver yakitori, but maybe if i try it a few more times i'll learn to appreciate it. the thing is, i'm not sure i want to make myself like liver. i wanted to like natto for it's supposed health benefits.

                                                                                                                    1. I have always preferrred really bland food (plain pasta with no sauce, boiled potatoes, milk-like cheese etc) and nothing has changed in my adulthood. Whilst I can and will eat anything (with the exception of marmite, peanut butter and honey) I have difficulty in enjoying dishes prepared with lots of garlic, basil, extravirgin olive oil or anything else which is quite strong in flavour. But these days everyone loves these ingredients and they are difficult to avoid especially if you go to a restaurant or round your friends' house for dinner. So I just say to myself that I must enjoy it all - and it works.... Fresh stawberries are still a challenge though.