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May 31, 2008 09:50 AM

Food textures -- do they ick you out?

I've always had an issue with food textures. Some I just can't outgrow. The problem is, some of the textures belong to foods so common that they totally limit my food cooking and tasting ability.

I know I'm not alone, a cousin has the same problem. It isn't that we don't like the food. Or the flavor of it, its just when that texture hits between the teeth.... an instant gag reflex starts.

Some of the textures that do it for me are onions cooked in something. (onion rings are fine and love onion powder, and the smell of fried onions.) Tomatoes cooked in something. (ketchup, tomato sauce, marinara is fine.... love salsa but won't eat the chunks.) Pickles in a sandwich. (Pickles alone with a bit of mustard is fine.)

So here is my problem. I've tried and tried, and just can't get past it. The gag reflex is fast and certain.

Does anyone else have this problem? And have you found a solution?

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  1. I am totally grossed out by the mucilaginous texture of boiled okra. Eeuw! Slime! My solution? I pass on gumbo, and stick to crispy fried okra, either Southern-style coated in cornmeal, or in the spicy Indian dish Sunheri Bindi. Of course, it's much easier to avoid gumbo than dishes prepared with onions or tomatoes! Like you, my DH detests the slippery feel of onions and tomatoes, raw or cooked, and feels the same about mushrooms. Sigh! That really limits his menu choices, but we've been married 33 years, and I accepted a long time ago that he simply isn't going to outgrow these antipathies. I cook what I please for myself, and prepare dishes for Himself that I know he will enjoy. Sometimes we have the same food for dinner, sometimes not.

    4 Replies
    1. re: WendyBinCT

      I too can't stand that slimy texture of boiled okra. That's why pickled okra and fried okra are so much better!

      And no steamed oysters!

      1. re: WendyBinCT

        As a child of someone from New Orleans, I was forced to eat okra and grits as a child. Yuck.

        Grossed out by pudding like items like tapioca. Reminds me of disecting a fetal pig brain. (sorry, don't want to put nasty images in y'all's heads).

        I can't stand tomatoes that are so ripe that the seeds begin to germinate, they look like little worms to me and I have to seed and juice them before using. Eeuuwww!

        1. re: blaireso

          yes, some call those seeds and goo 'tomato caviar' but I say next stop: compost bin.

        2. re: WendyBinCT

          I am not a fan of boiled okra, BUT, when used in a good Seafood Gumbo, I have no issues.

          Not a big okra fan, in general, but crisply fried, or raw from the farm, it is not bad.


        3. Unlike you, I delight in food textures.. slippery, crunchy, grainy, chewy.. tripe.. cooked tomatoes.. okra.. I don't care as long as the flavor is there. I used to be impatient with people with taste and/or texture "problems" with food, thinking it was some kind of childish leftover from the parent-kid food wars. Since learning that some people (like two of my sisters) have twice as many tastebuds (and scent receptors) as most of the rest of us, I can accept that cilantro or oily fish could be a problem for them. Maybe there's a gene for extra-sensitive tongue-feel or something. That you have a cousin with the same thing may speak for either genetics or a family culture of forcing children to eat what they don't want to eat. WendybinCT's husband may share either genetic with you or early childhood food-trauma!

          3 Replies
          1. re: fromagina

            When I was a baby I guess I was told I had a "backwards tongue thrust" which they've tried to use to explain it. I don't know that that is it. But I do know that it was a huge accomplishment for me to be able to eat a drive-thru burger with minced onions on it without gagging. Bite into a pickle on that puppy? It's coming up all over.
            No food trauma as a child at all to report. I'm glad to hear Wendy's dh may be the same. Its not the flavor or taste at all. Its that weird bug crunching sensation in my mouth.

            1. re: Firegoat

              Thanks for launching this fascinating topic, Firegoat! Genetic sensitivity certainly seems to be a possibility in our family. Given my DH's virtually allergic reaction to onions, I never served them at home when our kids were young. When our son was a toddler, and I took him out for a kiddie meal, he freaked and tore every tiny scrap of onion off his burger. Definitely not learned behavior, or a rebellious reaction.

              1. re: WendyBinCT

                I didn't realize my cousin had the same reactions til just recently when we discussed it over a thanksgiving dinner. My cousin was not raised anywhere near me, and we'd see each other at most twice a year for holidays. I can eat minced onions in things..... if I don't chew them. If I sense them in something in my mouth I just try to center it and swallow. I'm interested that your DH has a similar response.

          2. I am very sensitive to textures and find that they get in the way of appreciating flavors sometimes. My biggest regret is not being able to get even the littlest bit of uni down my throat.

            1. I have never been able to eat cottage cheese. The soft, wet curds feel like I'm eating somebody else's bolus. My solution: don't eat cottage cheese.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ricepad

                For some reason cottage cheese doesn't bother me. It seems more like textures that have a skin that you bite through and into that get me. I wonder if I sat down with a plate of minced onions and tomatoes and just plowed through it with a bucket beside me if that would cure me. Sadly, I don't think it will. It's not just the texture, but the texture combined inside other foods that really triggers it.

                1. re: ricepad

                  Although I love textures (even tripe and sweetbreads) cottage cheese gives me the willies! Same as pearl tapioca. Ick.

                2. I have a really hard time enjoying a raw tomato because of the texture. It's something about the mild flavor combined with the slimy quality that gets me. I persist in trying to like them, though, because I love to grow tomatoes. Last year our CSA sent out tomatoes that seemed to be a cross between plum and pear tomatoes, and they were so firm on the exterior even when fully ripe that I could enjoy them.

                  It's a weird quirk, though, because I love other soft textures. I adore pudding, custard, cottage cheese, etc.

                  21 Replies
                  1. re: Vetter

                    The tomato is one of my biggest problems. I love to grow them. Love the way they taste and smell. But I can't eat one. If I puree it into sauce, fantastic. But chunks? No way. Slices in a sandwich? Gag reflex is full on. Even on pizza, if the sauce has chunks of tomato in it rather than a smooth sauce I either won't eat it, or if no choice, will lift up the toppings and scrape off the sauce. This is probably the reason I learned to make my own spaghetti sauce at an early age because I couldn't take the stuff my mom bought or made that had chunks of tomato or onion in it. Again if I isolate the tomato, so its not mixed with anything else, and eat it. I can do it (but it is hard). But in other food..... nope.

                    1. re: Firegoat

                      I used to hate raw tomatoes when I was a kid, but grew to like -- and then love -- them when I was in my 20s. Wondering how old the two of you are? Maybe you could still outgrow it :-)

                      1. re: DanaB

                        I'm 40. Do you think there is still time?

                        1. re: Firegoat

                          LOL, I don't know. I'm 41 now, but like I said above, I overcame my aversion when I was around 20 or 21, when I was in college and trying to find edible things in the dorm cafeteria. Somehow, in that atmosphere and with few appealing choices, I decided that raw tomatoes weren't that bad, if eaten sliced and sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. Since then, it's only been uphill, and now I love tomatoes in any form.

                          Have you tried eating some really nice home grown and perfectly ripe tomatoes? I can see how the texture of mealy, off-season commercial tomatoes could be off-putting, but when in-season and ripe, I find there are few things better than a raw tomato.

                          1. re: DanaB

                            Absolutely. I grow my own in an organic garden. Always have a ton of the big sunny ripe things. My boyfriend eats the cherry ones right off the vine.... I plant some of those in hanging planters on the porch for easy access for him. The smell great, and they taste great...... in a puree or sauce.....

                              1. re: ldkelley

                                My brother is 43 years old and he's not even contemplating eating raw tomatoes.

                                1. re: PDeveaux

                                  Okay I'm proud to announce I had a break through texture-wise this weekend. I was visiting up at my parents, and mom made lunch before we left Sunday. Burgers..... with little plates of mom's home-grown tomatoes.... home grown onion slices.... I just couldn't do it. However...... mom made a can of Bush's Baked Beans, doctored up a bit with some brown sugar. In my 40 years I have never been able to bring myself to try beans... its the texture thing. For some unknown reason.... I took one spoonful. And. No gag. And it was good! I took more. No one at the table knew I had a break through other than me... but I was pretty happy about it.

                          2. re: Firegoat

                            Definitely, I'm 52 and there's stuff I'll eat now that I would not touch when younger. The bad news is there's stuff that I won't touch now that I would happily gobble down before.

                          3. re: DanaB

                            Dana - I was maybe 25 before I could tolerate a raw tomato slice hidden in a sandwich. I still hate the innards, but...

                            but now I will drive 20 miles RT to score fresh mozzarella for a Caprese (eh I know I could make the cheese but usually have other reasons as well)

                          4. re: Firegoat

                            My brother is the exact same way. I cook for him a lot, and learned early on that if there was a trace of tomato chunk, the entire meal was set for the garbage can.

                          5. re: Vetter

                            My husband was the same way, liked tomatoes in every form but raw. One day he finally mentioned that the slime grossed him out. The light went on for me and I started using meatier tomatoes (roma/plum, some beefsteak types) and "gutting" them (scraping out seeds and slime) before serving them. Now he happily enjoys raw tomatoes and gutting them is no inconvenience for me. Now if I could just get him past dry, overcooked eggs (same slime problem).

                            1. re: morwen

                              Slime is my ick factor. I must seed my tomatoes.

                              1. re: TampaAurora

                                Yes. I peel 'em too. Flavor's great, texture not so much.

                                But I have given up on raw celery. It *must* be cooked, and preferably pureed afterwards.

                              2. re: morwen

                                Maybe it's the brine? I am an olive-oil eater but not an olive eater as well. I like pickles, so it's more to do with the just bitterness to me. The oil was an acquired taste and only when I found out how "fruity" it tasted. I will eat your slimy turnoff's but it depends on the prep. Your non-slimies are my arch enemies. Eating dinner at my vegan friends home is torture.

                              3. re: Vetter

                                Fresh raw tomatoes are not slimy. I love good tomatoes, but would never eat a slimy specimen. You need to find a different tomato source.

                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  Nor mealy tomatoes just as bad as slimy!

                                  1. re: Ljubitca

                                    I've had icky mealy tomatoes, and they are very bad. I've never had a slimy tomato, and don't know what that could be, other than a really rotten tomato.

                                  2. re: pikawicca

                                    The seed part is slimy to me, not the flesh.

                                    1. re: TampaAurora

                                      Right, my husband was objecting to the jelly-like stuff that surrounds the seeds. His description of it was "slimey". Now he happily eats raw tomatoes if they've been gutted. Personally, I like them both ways but especially warm from the sun with fresh ground pepper and salt!

                                      1. re: morwen

                                        some roast that slime and love it, never tried it. if served it I'll give it a try, yet doubtful it'll be attempted in this kitchen.