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I cannot eat "strangers'" food

Unless I know a person very well, I cannot eat something homemade by someone who is just a passing acquaintance, a coworker, a friend of a friend, etc. My mother also "suffered' from this and my brother does as well. I was fine until a few years ago. Now, at age 49, I cannot stomach food brought in by coworkers for "pot luck" lunches, etc. Even the smell is enough to put me off. Anyone else "suffer" from this?

(And yes, I do eat out in restaurants, but that does not bother me. I know that is odd, but that's the way it is.)

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  1. Sorry to hear this! Sounds like an anxiety problem that you might approach clinically, or just go with it and be open. People can like you just fine even if there's a quirk in your style. (You gotta be fun.) And maybe it will pass.

    Does this cramp your socializing style much? I can see how dinner parties would become stressful. But you can hit a cocktail party and not eat anything. I often do that, just because I prefer chatting with people over juggling a little plate and a glass. (For me, the glass alone wins.)

    24 Replies
    1. re: Bada Bing

      Oh, this is not a problem on any level. It doesn't cramp my style a bit. My friends and I laugh about it, so it's nothing that even bothers me. I was just wondering who else may have this aversion.

      1. re: ttoommyy

        Good news. Although you miss out on some tastes, you've got solid friends, and there's always restaurants!

        1. re: Bada Bing

          Don't strangers cook your food in restaurants?

          1. re: buttertart

            In case your reply's to my latest post, I'll add that the original poster is the one who said that restaurants are fine. If it ain't broken...

            1. re: Bada Bing

              Oops, sorry - it escaped my notice.

            2. re: buttertart

              Yeah, I mentioned I'm OK with restaurants...more than OK; I eat out almost every weekend. Who knows...the mind is a very complex organ. I find the subject fascinating though.

              1. re: ttoommyy

                It doesn't bother me in the least, food from individuals or restaurants. Used to work for a company at which we used to have "international days" and people would bring in homemade food of their country. Had some amazing treats that way - lumpia shanghai (Filipino spring rolls) the size of my pinkie, lovingly made by one of my coworkers' mother, by the gazillions. It was a very close-knit company and I think this brought us closer together - a lot of us are still friends over 25 years later. But...whatever floats your boat.

                1. re: buttertart

                  "But...whatever floats your boat."

                  lol It's not like I choose to have this behavior. Yes, I admit it's screwy, but it's not like I go out of my way avoiding others' food because it "floats my boat." I just cannot physically bring myself to eat food prepared my people I do not know very well. Just wanted to make this distinction. :)

                  1. re: ttoommyy

                    I just meant, if that's your way of dealing with the world, if you are physically unable to bring yourself to eat from other people's kitchens, fine. I just don't feel the same way. I have known a lot of people like you (my mother-in-law conspicuously does not eat Christmas cookies sent them by neighbors, for example).

                2. re: ttoommyy

                  ttoommyy! You have me laughing! If you only knew what MAY be going on back in the kitchen at a restaurant.

                  When I was but a girl I worked in a restaurant where the cook would get hot and his jock itch would trouble him and he would take the corn starch and - dry things out and get some relief - with his bare hand and then proceed to handle the food with the same unwashed hand.

                  I will NEVER ever ever ever forget that. Did I mention never ever? I think of it every time I eat tempura or gravy. $20 bucks sez no home cook did that! LOL

                  I like that affliction though. I may take it up myself. I am rarely thrilled with potlucks. I think maybe you are just clever.

                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                    Sal--I worked in restaurants for many years. My family has owned restaurants. I owned a small dessert catering business for a while. Beleive me, I know what goes on in kitchens! ;)

                    "I like that affliction though. I may take it up myself. I am rarely thrilled with potlucks. I think maybe you are just clever."

                    LOL Maybe!

                    1. re: Sal Vanilla

                      Hahaha, well, I'm sure if that fellow was relieving himself in that way in the restaurant kitchen, in front of others, he would probably be guilty of perhaps even worse, in his own home!!

                      1. re: Sal Vanilla

                        Thanks for posting Sal Vanilla (great name, btw!).
                        This made me think of one solid reason for my behavior, at least here at work.

                        I have been in the bathroom many times to see a guy go from the stall to right out the door without washing his hands. And I know for a fact that at least two of these guys have brought food in from home for pot luck lunches. Sorry, but I could never not eat anything from those guys knowing what I do.

                        1. re: ttoommyy

                          Oh my. Such laughing you inflict on me.

                          We had a group over for dinner not too long ago. Well, I went into the bathroom after the guy who was going to be helping my guy with steaks and the sink was dry and the soap dish untouched. Dry as a bone. I went out and made my poor husband make him wash his hands (I was to cowardly to do it myself). Mr. Ick Hands did not want to wash them. My husband MADE him when he saw me gulping his wine as a revenge move.

                          ** 20 years brings out a lot of passive aggression and phobia. My clearly better half wishes it would bring out a little bravery.

                          Later I saw the guy poking the steaks to test for doneness. I am pretty sure I would have swigged right from the bottle if he did not soap up.

                          Strangely I have no compunction about eating off my own floor or from seedy street vendors. Ignorance is indeed bliss... until about 4-7 hours later.

                          1. re: Sal Vanilla

                            Hahaha, that "revenge move" is hilarious. No wine for you, Hubby!! Only fair if you won't be able to eat the steak, I suppose...

                          2. re: ttoommyy

                            you may have just solved my "eating-too-many-calories at work" problem.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              I mentioned in another post in this thread that we just had a month-long charity drive at work. Every morning there were breakfasts with lots of homemade cakes, muffins, etc. i think I am one of the few in my area who actually lost weight instead of gaining over the last month! lol

                  2. re: ttoommyy

                    I did when I was a kid...I couldn't stomach the idea of someone else handling my food...now at age 45 it sometimes bothers me but not very much...don't know what happened, kind of went away on it's own.

                  3. re: Bada Bing

                    I agree with Bada Bing. Sounds like anxiety. I am germophobic and hate eating at dives or being in dirty places (like public buses). I find that the more I avoid it, the worse my phobia gets. If you find it getting worse, maybe try forcing yourself to face it and symptoms will alleviate?

                    Easier said than done though. I know how that is.

                    1. re: NancyChin

                      You responded to Bada Bing, but are your questions directed to me? If so, I don't want to get over this aversion. I think it saves me not only unwanted calories, but also keeps me from eating bad food. Case in point: We had a month long charity drive at work with various breakfasts, etc. I heard from more than one coworker that they felt sick after eating some of the homemade "goodies."

                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        ttoommyy: I am not of a mind to rag on your preference, but the very point you make here could be taken to confirm rather than refute what NancyChin said. There is no such thing as failsafe eating--home, restaurants, or whatever. If you allow one incident such as you report to seize your imagination and validate a specific food-aversion, then that is what most people, if not you, will call a "problem."

                        But you're doing fine, it seems. I'm not telling you to change. I AM encouraging you to widen your perspective, though.

                        1. re: Bada Bing

                          I have eaten at many restaurants, food stands, festivals, etc. in the US and Europe. I have eaten wonderful dinners at friends' and family's homes. I think my perspective is pretty wide already. Thanks.
                          Btw... I have repeated this a few times in this thread: of course I realize there is no failsafe eating. I also realize the psychological aspect of this "quirk." It is what it is. I'm not looking for help; I only started this post to see who else shares this "aversion." That's all.

                      2. re: NancyChin

                        Nancy, ever eat on a train in Mexico, "coach" not first class. I think the chicken sandwich did me in, but the 10 days in Mexico by train and bus, and a couple of days across beautiful West Texas were some of the best in my life. The volcanic eruption coming out of my rear was a price to pay, but a price I'd gladly pay again. Mescal, Tequila and beer probably didn't help, but then again it didn't hurt.

                    2. I am the same way and so is my Mother. I think it's because most people are not very good cooks. I am a pretty good cook but even my wife does not like everything I make. She grew up eating German and Polish food and I like more well seasoned and spicy food, Cajun, Mexican, Italian and BBQ.

                      I can usually handle pot luck because most people bring one of their better dishes. But there is always some pot of glomp that have to avoid.

                      1. Totally with you. Unless I know what your kitchen looks like and have the sense that you're reasonably hygienic and clean, I'm totally skeeved by food from other people's kitchens.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: southernitalian

                          Agree. At least in a resto, hopefully there are health codes being observed.

                          1. I'm not Italian American, but I have a very difficult time eating other people's cooking (except restaurants). I can trace it to a very bad food poisoning event where everyone in my office got sick after a food day. Very sick. Spent the entire Memorial Day weekend being sick and hoping for death. After that, everyone else went back to normal but I see food prepared in unfamiliar, unmonitored kitchens, and I just know someone has done something to contaminate it. They kid me about it at work. Honestly, no one here is that good a cook that I think I'm missing anything.

                            No kidding. Very, very sick.

                            22 Replies
                            1. re: Parrotgal

                              parrotgal - did you post about that on CH before? - I vauguely remember the story.

                              Just curious - was there office chatter about what/who might have been the culprit?

                              I can just imagine!

                              1. re: NellyNel

                                Since so many of us were sick there was a lot of comparing of who ate what, and we never did narrow it down to one thing. My suspicion is that the person who didn't get sick was responsible.

                                1. re: Parrotgal

                                  Highly likely that somebody was carrying a "bug"which you got rather than the food. Just athought.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    My late father-in-law (an MD) said that the vast majority of the "food poisoning" cases he saw were in fact stomach viruses.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      I believe it. It always makes me laugh when people call out at work and say they have food poisoning, but come in the next morning feeling fine. My friend had food poisoning when we were in our 20s. He literally turned yellowish-green, his arm got numb and he got violently ill and had to be rushed to the hospital. He didn't recover for 3 or 4 days. THAT'S food poisoning.

                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                        If it's the real thing, it can be really dreadful. I hope he recovered quickly?

                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                          "It always makes me laugh when people call out at work and say they have food poisoning, but come in the next morning feeling fine."

                                          Not true. Majority of food posioning patients recover from a few hours to 2 days:

                                          "Most people fully recover from the most common types of food poisoning within 12 - 48 hours."


                                          "Most people begin feeling better within 24-48 hours."


                                        2. re: buttertart

                                          Whether food poisoning or a stomach virus, exposure usually happens the same way: improper handwashing. So in a situation where a potluck or a dinner at a restaurant leaves a bunch of people ill, it is likely that someone involved in food preparation/serving touched the food with unclean hands, thereby contaminating it, and then people ate it.


                                  2. re: Parrotgal

                                    Very interesting Parrotgal. Sounds horrific. And I know what you mean when you say, "no one here is that good a cook that I think I'm missing anything."

                                    I wonder if my family can trace this thing back to some major episode while growing up. Maybe it happened to my mother and it became a learned behavior by my brother and eventually me. Hmmmm.

                                    1. re: Parrotgal

                                      Sounds like a generalized version of why some people will never try another mussel or whatever after a bad experience. My only collective food poisoning was when I was a young child, from a neighbor's potato salad left out too long at a picnic. I think I was among the sick (at maybe 5 years old), but I'm sure that lots of people got burned. Hasn't stopped us from heading back to the trough, though! Not sure if that makes us evolutionarily hardy or foolhardy!

                                      1. re: Bada Bing

                                        Hey, I read/ saw something that said, it's not the mayo that spoils the potato salad, It's the onions???

                                        1. re: flylice2x

                                          onions are slightly anti-microbial, so it's not the onions.

                                          What spoils the salad is temperature abuse and contamination during food handling.

                                          1. re: Bryn

                                            Exactly. If correctly made, mayonnaise has enough acid content (lemon juice and white vinegar) to stabilize it even if it's hanging out in the sun for awhile at a picnic.

                                            Invariably something really bioactive (raw meat) comes in contact with the knife/board being used to prepare the potatoes. The surface of the potato provides a nice, moist (typically warm) surface that will cause bacteria to grow exponentially. By the time the dressing's on the potatoes, there's already trouble brewing that can't be negated by the small amount of acid in the dressing.

                                            Now, all that being said, the Federal and local food guidelines all dictate that cold foods must be stored and served at no higher than 40 degrees F. Hot foods must be kept hot -- out of the danger area that exists between 40 degrees and 160 degrees.

                                            1. re: shaogo

                                              Are there really still people out there who let other food come into contact with a raw-meat-contaminated cutting board? That is just mind-boggling to me. Those things are strictly and immediately washed, or isolated till they can be washed in my kitchen.

                                              1. re: sonia darrow

                                                Yes, I have done it many times. If I am making steak tartare then chopped onions, capers and other stuff will be cut on the same board. The same goes for the veg I will be throwing in the stew.

                                                A washed wooden board that is allowed to air dry results in little cross-contamination. Shellfish are worse culprits than meat. Foodstuffs that give off a juice as they 'age' are the worst as the liquor is a far better medium for bacterial growth. Certain foodstuffs such as boiled rice can be a bad contaminant as certain bacteria that enjoy this leave little trace in terms of aroma and taste. (We can tell when fish has gone off.) Most cross contamination occurs in the fridge. Luckily I don't store my chopping boards there. In fact I store them vertically. This is safer as it does not leave a wet sandwiched layer.

                                                Maybe, as SF would say, I live in a magic kitchen. I think most people do. See how many cases you can find of food poisoning in the home due to using (after washing) a meat cutting board for something else. Good luck!

                                                  1. re: Paulustrious

                                                    Well sure, it's fine after washing. I don't bleach mine or anything (as many people seem to recommend these days).

                                                  2. re: sonia darrow

                                                    Yes, there are! I cooked a meal with some people from my church that was to be served to people at a low-income and elderly housing place, and I was stunned by some of the unsafe practices I saw. Raw meat touching salad ingredients, people mixing meatloaf with unwashed hands, you name it. And when the organizers of this event asked if I wanted to join them for the meal? Um, no thanks. Non-CH types, the ones who just eat to live, are rarely educated about food hygiene.

                                                    1. re: sonia darrow

                                                      Some people just don't know. Teaching friend about cooking now and he told me if I hadn't said anything he would have put his cooked chicken back on the plate where he was keeping the raw chicken.

                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                        Seriously? Does your friend think the only reason to cook the chicken is personal preference?

                                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                                          He just didn't have any concept of any of the WHY behind any of the cooking.

                                                1. re: flylice2x

                                                  No I have read that it is the potatoes/macaroni that are the problem. Cooks Illustrated, I believe.

                                            2. i'm terrified! bbq's are the worst: burnt meat, not thoroughly cooked inside. some people even take the meat from the freezer and directly onto the grate!!! marinades are not good, limp salads, use the same tools for raw and cooked food. my stomach churns.

                                              1. We weren't rich when I grew up. The thought of taking a home-made food gift and throwing it away is astounding to me; I'd never do it. However I can respect those who're Kosher or who just have a hang-up about eating from others' kitchens for sanitary reasons.

                                                When I think of the places I've had meals from (teeming, filthy stalls in downtown Manhattan; a housing project in the Bronx; street vendors on 125th and Lenox) by all rights I should've come down with some sort of food-borne illness. But I've actually done well. Perhaps I've built-up an immunity.

                                                The one thing that just doesn't make sense are the people who're leery about another homemaker's kitchen, but who'll go out to a restaurant unquestioningly. Sure, like some posters say, there're health regulations. But the health department visits four times a year, if you're lucky. I'm in the restaurant business and can tell you that you're probably more certain to receive some sort of unwholesome food from a 16-year-old who's in such a hurry to get off shift they don't wash *anything* (including their hands) than one will from someone who's cooking a dish in their own home.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: shaogo

                                                  "The one thing that just doesn't make sense are the people who're leery about another homemaker's kitchen, but who'll go out to a restaurant unquestioningly."

                                                  I'm the OP and in my first post I stated: "And yes, I do eat out in restaurants, but that does not bother me. I know that is odd, but that's the way it is."

                                                  I never said any of this made sense: what quirks do? That was the point of posting this: to see who else has this aversion and why. Believe me, I know his is not usual behavior. I never meant to infer that it "made sense."

                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                    I hope you didn't take offense. I, too share with you some bugs about things that don't make sense (example: I hate ants and can't abide cockroaches at all, but will carefully lift spiders up into a paper or a cup and let them go outside). Go figure. Probably has to do with the Buddhist teachings I follow.

                                                    When I was very small (<8 years) I seem to recall that I'd not drink milk out of anything except the glass quarts we had at home. At school or out at someone else's home, I'd opt for water. I'd eat/drink anything else; just not milk. I think at school I drank the chocolate milk.

                                                    And it just occurred to me that there are indeed many restaurants (usually chains) that I won't set foot in because I know all too well the poor habits that their employees have with regard to sanitation. I hear these people talk about how little they care when they're at our bar, after work, swapping stories about how they deal with their customers.

                                                  2. re: shaogo

                                                    I couldn't agree more, Shaogo. This speaks far more of neurosis than caution. Sorry, but it does. It just isn't comon sense.

                                                    It's really too bad it's become sort of an urban sport to try and pin every stomachache on ignorance or malfeasance by some home cook.

                                                  3. Sounds Familiar...there's a guy at work that doesn't eat other peoples food but is fine at restaurants. He had a bad experience once which got him sick.
                                                    There's also a person who can not eat nuts or seafood. Even the smell of fish makes them sick which is understandable. We try to avoid those foods.
                                                    Of course there's the Fantom Potlucker, who fakes that they brought something and eats seconds and takes home a plate or two.
                                                    They sign up to bring something, making sure it is a dupe on the list or just doesn't bring in and say they forgot. But, keep out of their way, as they are the first and last one on the potluck line...

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: flylice2x

                                                      I am sure they will be first to the bar to buy drinks.

                                                    2. Whatever you do, don't go to prison.

                                                        1. re: rochfood

                                                          LOL Yes!!! I am a pretty accomplished baker and people fight over my baked goods when I bring them to work. But I know I am impeccably clean and my baked goods are delicious! lol ;)

                                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                                            Likely so are the people whose food you won't eat. I've been in a lot of peoples' kitchens in my day and I can't think of one I wouldn't eat from.

                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                              Me too Buttertart, but to be fair to ttoommyy - she readiliy admits this is a "quirk" that she has..
                                                              ..And we ALL have our own quirks!!

                                                              1. re: NellyNel

                                                                Yes we do all have them - this one is rather limiting, unfortunately, for our friend t, but if unsurmountable, that's just the way it goes.

                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                  I have seen worse (quirks) believe me!

                                                                  It certainly annoys and frustrates me with my mother..I do think she is being ridiculous.....but SHE would NEVER admit she is being quirky!!

                                                                  That's the difference for me!

                                                                    1. re: NellyNel

                                                                      That's weird - the mods have removed my post about my mother and her neighbors - I wonder why??

                                                                      1. re: NellyNel

                                                                        They broke out the second kitchens posts into another thread:


                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                          I saw that, but I never mentioned anyhing about 2 kitchens!

                                                                          1. re: NellyNel

                                                                            The new thread also omits my query which started the discussion of two kitchens, both here and there, but no big deal. Nobody could see that tangent coming, of course. And it is an interesting standalone topic. Taught me things I never thought about before.

                                                                    2. re: buttertart

                                                                      "Yes we do all have them - this one is rather limiting..."

                                                                      But it''s not limiting. To be honest, I've never seen anything here at work I'd WANT to eat. As for dinner parties, etc., I always know the person doing the cooking: it's either a close friend or a relative. I can't remember the last time I was invited out and I did not know the host.

                                                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                        That's different then, I just haven't been in a situation at one of these work potlucks where there was nothing on offer I'd want to try. Call me reckless or a glutton!

                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                          Me too!
                                                                          To the contrary in such a case I want to try ANYTHING that I have never seen or tried before.
                                                                          I love to try new things and have always been thrilled at office pot luck gatherings!!
                                                                          I have learned allot too.

                                                                          An interesting point is that normally the only food that will put me off is Italian American food. I am IA and if the dish doesnt look like the way I make it - then bleh! Having said that - I will still try it to compare - sometimes it will be better that I thought in my head, and sometimes Not! But I ALWAYS have prefferred MY version!

                                                                          1. re: NellyNel

                                                                            I've noticed that with IA friends - very doctrinaire about the way dishes must be cooked. And good cooks too!

                                                                        2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                          LOL..I thought I was the only one that would pass on someones cooking that I didn't know.
                                                                          We do a lot of dinner parties and sleep overs at our friends homes and I'm a freak about seeing how they prepare things and make sure that there is no cross contamination or funky cleaning issues.
                                                                          I've seen how some people cook, without washing their hands, cross contamination with chicken juice and using the same cutting board as they just got done cutting up a chicken..and then prepare some veggies for a salad!

                                                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                            Same here. And if something looked THAT good, you can always ask for the recipe and make it yourself. It's not like you/we suffer from agoraphobia- that would be limiting.

                                                                            1. re: BubblyOne

                                                                              "It's not like you/we suffer from agoraphobia- that would be limiting."

                                                                              Thanks BubblyOne. I think some people got the idea that this was a debilitating disease or something! To the contrary...I think I have saved myself some unwanted and unneeded calories and a lot of indigestion (according to other coworkers). lol

                                                                            2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                              What's your point about knowing the person doing the cooking? Does that make it different somehow?

                                                                      2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                        Well there's clearly a bit of pathology going on there, where you're so confident of your own sanitary comestibles, but fret that everyone else's may be microbe-ridden ghastlies. I mean, the act of sharing food between us communally denotes trust and shared pleasure so you might be saying something about how you connect with fellow human beings. But it's probably pretty harmless; besides, no doubt others have felt the same way about your baked goods, despite your belief that everyone fights over 'em.

                                                                          1. re: LiviaLunch

                                                                            Three right Livia!

                                                                            Very well and succinctly put.

                                                                            1. re: LiviaLunch

                                                                              Definitely there's a complete mistrust of others and a feeling of superiority.

                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                Not at all choswer. If you knew me, you would never say that. Really, such a statement about someone you don't know is harsh.

                                                                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                  "Most of the stuff people bring in to work just does not look appealing; therfore, I assume it will not taste good and I get turned off. That's all."

                                                                                  I think it's statements like that (posted below) that lead some people to their conclusions. I have a friend who brings cake to functions and she'll comment that she feels bad bringing cake mix cake to my house. I always eat one or two pieces and tell it not to worry about it because it's good, though it doesn't look appealing to me. She's put in the effort and thought. The least I can do is appreciate it and not turn my nose up to it. Sometimes, even as chowhounds, it's not about the food but about the feelings. I know it makes me feel good when people say they like what I've brought.

                                                                                  Sorry, I'm probably coming off much harsher than I intend. It's apparent in this thread that you enjoy cooking for others and like that others appreciate what you make. It might be a good jumping off point when you're faced with unappetizing food to keep that in mind, that others put in effort and enjoy similar feedback. I've been told here that lies like that are terrible but I don't agree. I think feelings are important, too--not meaning a blatant, "Wow, this is incredible!!!"

                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    This is easy to control in one's own home. I just don't ask people whose food I'm not yet comfortable with to bring food over. I don't have pot lucks at my home. People don't generally show up with dessert unasked...

                                                                                    If someone brought dessert to my house (I am assuming this would typically happen if I asked the person to bring dessert), I would serve it and eat it, of course.

                                                                                    But, at work when a coworker has brought something in, or at another person's pot luck, nobody expects you to try everything. If someone coaxes me to try something, I will often comment on how delicious it looks and say I'm just not hungry at that moment or something like that... Later, it's usually all gone, and everyone else is raving about it. I've certainly brought things in and had others not eat them (for whatever reason), and that's fine with me, so I don't really feel all that different on the surface.

                                                                                    I have also had people over for dinner leave things on their plate uneaten. Everybody has different tastes and preferences, and when you offer something to somebody it shouldn't come burdened with the expectation that it must be eaten or it's an offense.

                                                                                    1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                      "Everybody has different tastes and preferences, and when you offer something to somebody it shouldn't come burdened with the expectation that it must be eaten or it's an offense."

                                                                                      Ahhh, that's been my feeling, too, but I've also been told here, in past threads, that it was very rude of me to do so (and that I need to try everything at a dinner which I also don't). I honestly never monitor who eats what or how much and am not insulted when people pass on what I bring. But, if they make a special effort, as my friend with the cake, I make a point to put them at ease, as you've said.

                                                                                      Overall, I think Americans are more squeamish about germs and cleanliness. I've eaten off vendor carts in third world countries, flies everywhere, and it doesn't bother me. I've eaten at a chicken shack where chickens were walking around me and the tables. What doesn't kill me, makes me stronger. So, I can't imagine any stranger's house being worst than that!

                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                        Would that I were like you in this respect, hahaha...

                                                                              2. re: LiviaLunch

                                                                                Oh, I know for a fact that thre are others at work that feel the same...even about my food. I do not feel superior in any way. I really don't think this aversion is as rare as a lot of people on this board think. I'm just being honest about it.

                                                                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                  And there have been quite a few that have chimed in and feel just as you do.

                                                                                  1. re: BubblyOne

                                                                                    Yes, I saw that BubblyOne. And thanks for being supportive. You would think no one on this board had any quirks that were equal to or worse than this. We are all only human. The difference is, I owned up to one of my quirks in "public."

                                                                                  2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                    Ttoomy, I can appreciate that you've come here to confess and embrace your quirks with a hope to meet others who share it, but I think it's unfair to expect that upon confession the quirk is to be embraced or celebrated. It's the nature of the wide ranging audience you've targeted for this confession. It's also something quite basic and oddly, something recently addressed by Miss Manners. She writes (in relation to a different quirk: 'We are all entitled to our little harmless habits, Miss Manners believes, but we are not entitled to demand approval for them.'

                                                                                    1. re: Lizard

                                                                                      There's a big difference between embracing and celebrating a quirk and showing some tolerance... by asking questions and providing feedback constructively, rather than blaming and shaming.

                                                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                        ..and it's funny because those are the reply's which come across as giving a feeling of superiority - not the OP's!

                                                                            2. I know everyone has quirks and that not all of them make sense; I'm certainly not immune to nonsensical foibles. But it makes me sad that people are so averse to eating food made in home kitchens. Yes, many home cooks are not savvy about food safety; they may leave food out at dangerous temperatures too long, maybe undercook poultry, and may not take necessary precautions against cross contamination. I understand these concerns.

                                                                              However, to think that these well-meaning cooks bring people food that just gets shunted away in "second" kitchens, given to yard wildlife, or thrown out in a few days is very sad. Sure, if you're kosher have other specific food guidelines, that's understandable, but most of us don't.

                                                                              I make a lot of food, just because I enjoy making it, and my husband and I can't eat it all. So, we share with our friends, coworkers, and family. I hope they eat it, because it tastes good and is a gift prepared with attention and care. I really hope it doesn't just get tossed, and if they do that, I wish they'd let me know so I don't waste food on them.

                                                                              And, by the way, I'm well versed in food safety. I don't share food that isn't safe for everyone, children and pregnant mothers and the immunosuppressed included, to eat.

                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Auriana

                                                                                And if you were my friend, and I knew all of that about you, I'd happily eat your food!

                                                                                1. re: Auriana

                                                                                  This would be a good time to read Sam F's thread on living in a magic house. I give my acquaintances the benefit of the doubt that they do, too, and have yet to get sick.

                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    His thread was entertaining. However, I don't think I live in a magic house where no one can possibly get sick. I don't worry about food poisoning in my house, because I know how to keep things safe, not because there's a shroud of immunity on my roof.

                                                                                    That said, I'm also not obsessive about keeping things sterile. I have a dog and a long-haired cat; yet I'll still pick something off the floor and eat it. I like to think of it as strengthening my immune system. ;)

                                                                                    1. re: Auriana

                                                                                      Family saying: You've got to eat a peck of dirt before you die.

                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                        Oh, buttertart... my recently-departed mom got that from her father (insert [pang] of loss for mom, here)... he used to tell her not to bother washing-off pacifiers that us kids would drop on the floor for that reason. I'd eat a peck of dirt on a silver platter in front of a dozen people if I could just have a minute with mom (or her dad) again...

                                                                                        1. re: shaogo

                                                                                          And I'd do the same for a minute with mine. It was always breezily said when picking something up off the floor for consumption after dropping it. (It's always things like this unexpectedly popping up that hit you like a ton of bricks after a loss.)

                                                                                        2. re: buttertart

                                                                                          Or as Bill Cosby said about Fatherhood, you sterilize everything for the baby, and then when he starts crawling, you turn around and he's eating dirt.:-)

                                                                                  2. Are you concern that these strangers will poison you or something or that sort? Is that why you cannot eat the foods?

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics


                                                                                      Can you tell us if you don't like to eat others' food because you think they will taste bad or you think they are trying to harm you by poisoning you?

                                                                                      Not so long along, I were concern about eating cooked foods from strangers. Very specific and very mild. I still ate the food, but I would think of it. I would be concern for a few seconds. As long as I know the person, then it is fine. I didn't have to know the person very well. However, if the cooked food is made by an unknown person, then I would be concern. (we had very kind coworkers who would cookies and food and leave them in the lunchroom to be shared, so I won't know who made what). I still ate them, but the thought of food poisoning ran across my mind just a few years ago. My concern is of sanitation. In other words, I did not worry about the food tastes bad nor I worried about the food was intentionally poisoning. I worried the food was unintentaionlly cooked unclean.

                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                        lol Not at all. Most of the stuff people bring in to work just does not look appealing; therfore, I assume it will not taste good and I get turned off. That's all.

                                                                                      2. I wonder if you can tell something about a person's hygiene by looking in their fridge...

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                          I think it depends on whether the person has kids or not - I am a very neat and clean cooker (and my husband is fanatical about disinfecting anything that comes into contact with meat or fish), but my kids make a mess in my refrigerator all the time. They will both be in college in the fall, and the fridge is one of many things we won't have to deal with anymore.

                                                                                        2. I don't see how knowing someone as in granny, mum, sister or best friend makes their food any 'safer' to eat than a stranger's. Definitely an odd phobia.

                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: smartie

                                                                                            The OP has said this is not a rational behaviour. We all have our quirks, but most of us would not tell others in such an open manner. I consider ttoommy (tommy?) quite brave for doing this.

                                                                                            1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                              Seconding Paulustrious. I also think this thread has gotten a bit snarky at points.

                                                                                              1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                I agree. ttoommy is simply trying to understanding himself better and we should be more understanding.

                                                                                                1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                  The question is, does she want to change, or is she just sharing the quirk? It's obvious she enjoys cooking/baking for others and takes pride in the fact that others enjoy it. Maybe she could get over it by remembering how nice it feels to have your efforts appreciated and reciprocate.

                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                    rationality does not necessarily"cure" a quirk which came from (it sounds like to me) a learned behavior from Mom.esp. since bro is also in this camp. for some reason, I like pineapple sundaes,mostly I think because my mom did, not because she served them at home, but just as an observed behavior....

                                                                                              2. I have a friend that defrosts chicken in the 95 degree sun, leaves food uncovered in the refrigerator, and now I found out he has a mouse in the house. (There's never just one.) He wonders why he has upper gastroenterogical problems. We try to explain basic food hygene to him, but he won't listen. I won't set foot in his house.

                                                                                                1. Oh my gosh, I couldn't believe it when I saw this thread. I am just like this. I usually have no trouble in a restaurant, unless it is visibly grungy or I see staffers doing unhygienic things (ok, so probably there is lots going on behind those doors, but as long as I don't see it...)

                                                                                                  My mother, also, is like this, and was, from childhood. She said a boarder in her family home used to give her cookies and such, when she was a little girl, and she used to hide them under the rug, all the while pretending to have eaten them. As an adult, she can't eat at others' houses (she's worse than me), because she imagines bodily fluids flying into the food and such. She has trouble at buffets, always choosing from the back, or at any self-service food station, where she is extremely picky about accessing food that couldn't possibly have been sneezed on or touched. I have to say I am not as bad as her, thankfully.

                                                                                                  I have the hardest time at "pot lucks", and if friends (whose food I am comfortable eating) are there, I will ask to find out which are their dishes, and stick to those. Or just eat what I brought. When people bring things to work, I don't eat them unless they were store-bought.

                                                                                                  If I look at the dish, and it's "gloopy" or runny, it makes me feel nauseous.

                                                                                                  My husband laughs at this peculiarity, and it is no joy, that's for sure. But it is very real.

                                                                                                  24 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                    Thanks for responding Full tummy. Seems like you and I share the same "phobia." Yo';ve pretty much summed up the way I feel.

                                                                                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                      I'm confused, because on the one hand it seemed you said before that the food simply didn't look as if it would taste good; but Full tummy is talking about a phobia regarding dirt, germs, and bodily fluids. It seems to me those are two very different issues, no?

                                                                                                      1. re: visciole

                                                                                                        The phobia seems to be more of Full tummy's mother's affliction. I was identifying more with the "If I look at the dish, and it's "gloopy" or runny, it makes me feel nauseous" comment Full tummy made.

                                                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                          So if it were cookies or something that wouldn't bother you? I mean, something that had a solid texture and couldn't contain any inadequately cooked ingredients?

                                                                                                          1. re: visciole

                                                                                                            Cookies are usually OK. Though cake would probably be out. OK, I sound like a psycho now. I should never have started this! I've learned my lesson. lol

                                                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                              Hey, you are doing better than me-nothing unless I know the person.

                                                                                                              1. re: BubblyOne

                                                                                                                That's pretty much true for me, too, BubblyOne.

                                                                                                              2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                Don't feel bad :) While I don't think I am quite as choosy as you are, I agree that I wouldn't eat just anyone's food. I do eat food made by people from my church, my office, or friends, but like was mentioned above, they have to be hygenic, at least. I think it would be common sense not to eat food from someone who comes in the office smelly all the time. If I know someone's house is always a mess, I am not likely to find their food appetizing. I do eat in restaurants, but those are the places that I worry about the most! I guess I just have to hope that the people are decent and that the health codes are enforced!!

                                                                                                                1. re: amylovescupcakes

                                                                                                                  I must say that messy and unsanitary are two different things! I had a roommate who was neat but not clean.

                                                                                                                  This preference/phobia seems to have a genetic component to it ... and I can see how it would have survival value. Probably not now, but in eons past ...

                                                                                                                  1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                    And I'm the opposite: I'm clean but not neat! I may have a lot of clutter, but everything I use in the kitchen is clean, including most definitely my hands.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                      I guess part of my problem is that I am clean AND neat so it is hard for me to differentiate the two. :)

                                                                                                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                        I fall into Ruth's camp as well. I admit it is easier to be clean when you are neat, as there is less opportunity for dirty, but it is possible to be messy and clean. Messy has to do with "a place for everything, and everything in it's place" (I can hear my grandmother's voice.) Clean means thing are not covered in dust, grime, whatever, that they are fit for use. So if I leave all my dishes in the dish drainer instead of putting them back in the drawers and on the shelves, it can get messy - but will be clean.

                                                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                          Me three ;) Ironically, my cupboards, cabinets, linen press, drawers, closets, etc. are much neater and better organized than the surfaces you can see. The complete opposite of a place that looks neat, but you open the hall closet and an avalanche falls on your head ...

                                                                                                      2. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                        I can identify with the buffet thing...that is risky business :) I was at a chinese place one day with friends and this little boy (about 8-10 I think) was in line in front of me by himself. He proceeded to scoop up some chicken and vegetables and, with his fingers, pick out all of the vegetables and place them back in the tray. He then scooped the meat out onto his plate. I stood there in shock for a minute, looking around for his parents. When I didn't see them, I told him (nicely, I promise :) that he shouldn't do that because people do not want to eat food touched by strangers. He looked at me blankly and walked off, and his older sister walked up and glared at me. I politely pointed to the sign that says "Children must be accompanied by an adult" and left it at that. I have had trouble with eating at buffets since then....

                                                                                                        1. re: amylovescupcakes

                                                                                                          Oh, no doubt such things happen at buffets. I am sure there would be quite the stories if a thread was started asking what the worst thing one had seen at a buffet was (and I'm not talking about the food, hahaha). I once saw someone taste something off a serving spoon at a self-serve station....

                                                                                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                            Oh yuck!!! Yes, I think you are right...we could all tell stories that would make us want to avoid them forever :)

                                                                                                        2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                          When my son was a toddler, I would lift him so he could drink from the water fountain. I couldn't tell (from my angle) that he was actually putting his mouth on the water that accumulated below and sucking that up. OTOH, my daughter, when she learned to crawl came across a piece of chocolate on the floor and ate it. After that, EVERYTHING dark on the floor went into her mouth. I learned to get over germphobia.

                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                            Hahaha, just because some of this seems odd, don't assume we have a problem with picking something off the floor in our own homes and eating it!!! At least for me, the "strangers food" thing doesn't generalize to "germphobia"... I work with children, actually, and despite their proclivity to pick anything up off the floor and eat it, there does come a time when one teaches them that we don't eat things off the floor, not to put their mouths directly on the water fountain fixture (I'm assuming you didn't just let your son continue doing this once you discovered it), and such things. This is just a normal part of growing up. When I was a child, I lived on a farm, but my mother was so devoted to keeping a clean house you would never know there were hundreds of animals just outside the door. We had a neighbour with a milk farm, and when we visited her, my mother admonished me not to eat anything we were offered (we said we weren't hungry), as the farmer used unpasteurized milk and butter, and her kitchen was full of flies and manure. Quite possibly this had a lasting effect on me, and quite possibly it was good advice. Chances are, however, I would have been just fine with the unpasteurized milk and manure. To each parent his/her own, I guess.

                                                                                                            1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                              If my son had put his mouth on the fixture, I think it would have been better but he was drinking from the pool of water that collected below. I think parents pass off attitudes towards kids as with your mother. I would have no problems w/ unpasteurized milk but the manure would turn me off. Thankfully, though, in my circle of acquaintances, I don't find people w/ fresh cow manure in their kitchen.;-) Although, I have a friend on the opposite extreme where she over sanitizes her house w/ heavy cleaners and uses Raid freely (she says if she sprays the counters and doesn't wipe, the bugs don't come back as quickly) in the kitchen to keep away any possible bug. I do have a problem w/ that.

                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                Oh, oh, yes, I'm with you on that one. That to me isn't sanitizing, more like overchemicalizing... I am a vinegar and baking soda kind of person. Recently, I ate dinner at a friend's home. They have "air fresheners" in every room. While sitting at the table I kept on hearing this gush of air and couldn't figure out what it was. Finally, I turned around and noticed an electric air freshener machine directly behind me sitting on their buffet counter, where the food was sitting ready to be served. It was not only spraying on the food, but on those of us sitting on the side of the table adjacent to the buffet (which included me). I said, oh no, the air freshener is spraying on the food! It was turned off, thank goodness. And I don't think it's been on again in recent visits.

                                                                                                                What kind of bug is your friend trying to keep away? She ought to read the label of the Raid can. Raid is toxic, that's why it's used to kill bugs....

                                                                                                                1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                                  LOL, like automatic perfume dispensers! I don't like artificial odors like those air fresheners, either.

                                                                                                                2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                  Good lord- there's something wrong there, for sure.

                                                                                                                  How To Poison People 101

                                                                                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                    Yeah, possibly a good reason to avoid stranger food.;-)

                                                                                                              2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                I love that your daughter was an instant chocoholic :)

                                                                                                            2. I didn't used to feel this way until I became friends with John. I've written before about my experiences with John's mom's cooking but last week John invited me over for dinner when his mom was out. When I got there he told me that we were having food that his room mates had left in the dorm refrigerator when they moved back home for the summer. Apparently John's parents had room in their car when they fetched John from college so he snagged the forgotten grub. The appetizer was chicken cordon bleu nuggets and the main course was chicken fingers. I did manage to get down one of the nuggets to be polite. John was indignant that he made all this food and I (for some reason) wasn't all that hungry. John told me later that he ate all the leftover food and he seems fine but I'm thinking no more eating at John's house. I think my problem is knowing John and his family too well. :)

                                                                                                              1. Mario Batali was on Jon Stewart recently, and he said that his favorite food is "anything someone else makes."

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. The only area in which I can relate to this thread, is with mussels (same goes for restaurants).... and occasionally I'm a little nervous at BBQ's... just because I've seen too many repeat offenders, i.e. the people who just dump a bag of mussels straight from the store into the pot (no checking to see if they'll close)....I do have friends and family that I trust to cook these things. My Dad is the same way, and its because he once got sick from shellfish. I think a bit of it rubbed of on me.

                                                                                                                  and with BBQ's unfortunately I've seen people do things like put the meat back on the platter they brought it out on, and specific to me, use something from raw meat to pick up my veggie burger that just spent two seconds on the grill.

                                                                                                                  I also have a thing about raw eggs, so I'm a little cautious around those frozen dessert things people bring to BBQ's or potlucks.

                                                                                                                  The above is a minor version of your being ok with restaurants only. I like to have certain things cooked by people who I know (or hope) know what they're doing. But for most everything else, I'm pretty much game. I've eaten stranger's food plenty of times. :)

                                                                                                                  29 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                    I once saw a guy take ribs out of the large ziplock bag they were marinating in, toss them on the grill to cook them, put them in a platter and pour the used marinade back on them.

                                                                                                                    1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                      I don't know about the restaurant thing. When I was young, one of the Chinese restaurants "eventually" got shut down. We found out they were scraping leftovers back into the pot and reserving them to other customers. We didn't know how long that had been going on, but we had actually liked that place. But again, that was "many" years ago. They seem much stricter now! So I will eat at certain ones again. But for stranger's food - i.e. pot lucks, etc. - it depends on how it looks. I have not gotten sick yet.

                                                                                                                      1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                        What is it about its looks that gets you to eat it or not eat it?

                                                                                                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                                          Well, for me (I'm, the OP by the way), it's because I have such a set way of thinking what homemade food should look like, having had a mother who dedicated her life to cooking for her two sons and husband (or so it seemed). So when I see something gloppy or off color or with a foreign smell to it, I get turned off right away. Of course, this is all in my head, because what these people are presenting is exactly what the food should look like...to them. Like I said earlier some whwere way up above, it doesn't make sense, but it is what it is.

                                                                                                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                            It sounds like you like it just fine and don't feel like you're missing out on anything...or you'd do something about it. Right?

                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                              Yes, if I really felt like I was missing out on something, I would have done something about it by now. It's not like I go out of my way to avoid others' food and talk about it behind their backs. I just gracefully say "no thank you" and go about my business. I have never heard of anyone being offended because I did not eat their food. Believe me, around my office, people gobble up everything someone else brings in. I am definitely a minority around here!

                                                                                                                            2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                              So ttoommyy, you wouldn't accept an invitation to eat the home cooking of someone whose ethnicity is different from yours (their food would look gloppy and smell foreign?)
                                                                                                                              But you would eat the gloppy foreign smelling food in a restaurant?

                                                                                                                              I know you've said in your case that your phobia doesn't make sense, but many of the responses just come across as people who feel superior to others, with little justification.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                I've eaten in the homes of many, many friends who are from different ethnicities! It's not that at all; it's when I don't know the people very well that I can't eat the food. It could be a hot dog, but if it came from someone I didn't know well, I wouldn't (and couldn't) eat it.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                  "but many of the responses just come across as people who feel superior to others, with little justification."

                                                                                                                                  I don't feel superior at all. It has nothing to do with "my food is better than your food." Sorry, I cannot justify this behavior; I can only guess at why I do it, which I have tried to do a few times in earlier posts.

                                                                                                                                2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                  :) Can we play dress up? Can we make your friends dress up like chefs?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                    I'd like to play doctor! But you didn't ask ME :)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                      Ha ha ha. However, in your case, playing doctor is not going to make you eat more.

                                                                                                                                      I know ttommyy said he can eat foods from restaurants just fine. I am curious, if he is uneasy about untrained cooks or the non-restaurant environment.

                                                                                                                                      For instance, if a professional chef cooked him a dinner at a private setting, would he eat it? Alternatively, if a untrained person (his friend) cooked him a dinner in a fancy restaurant, would he eat it? What is the limitation, I wonder. So I asked about the dress up thing partially for that. Well, partially for fun as well.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                        And I was obviously having fun. But clearly if OP wanted to change, he'd haul himself off to a "shrink" and it would probably be an easy thing to "cure." And, no, I don't want to play THAT kinda doctor.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                            " "he'd haul himself off to a "shrink" and it would probably be an easy thing to "cure." "

                                                                                                                                            Until I posted this, I NEVER thought of this as something to seek professional help about. Now a few people have suggested this. LOL It's not like it stops me from eating or going out of the house or having a life. I probably eat better/more varied food than anyone I know. It's really not a problem. I just think it's an interesting "quirk" and wanted to know who else had it.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                              We are just teasing you. But I am still wondering if you are more concern about the training of the chef or the environment of a restaurant.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                Hey, after seeing your post for LA Mexican, you are hardly living in a bubble! You sound WAY more open than many people to trying a more "adventuresome" dining experience. I wouldn't even get out of my car in some of those areas:) Hope you have fun!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: BubblyOne

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks BubblyOne. Like I've said all along, this has nothing to do with feeling "superior" as some posters have suggested.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                    I can't believe how often you've had to repeat your basic points, ttoommyy. You're very patient. All the same, I do share with many who have responded to your circumstance a kind of cognitive dissonance in imagining your case.

                                                                                                                                                    We're being asked to imagine that a person can find certain foods impossible to eat (through some combination of who made the foods and how the foods appear) but also to accept the idea that those foods that are rejected are in no sense "looked down" upon or "judged." There's a social dynamic involved in sharing and not sharing, giving and accepting, etc. Rejection can only have so many meanings, and we're used to the judgmental ones.

                                                                                                                                                    Somehow all this is reminding me of a Seinfeld episode in which Jerry discovers that his new and very beautiful girlfriend was formerly dating his icky neighbor Newman, who in fact rejected her. Suddenly Jerry cannot stop looking at her face wondering what's wrong with her, and, provoked, she challenges Jerry to kiss her. He can't. She didn't take that well!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                                                                      I really don't know if this is the same, but I'll try anyway...

                                                                                                                                                      What about the people on this board who proudly flaunt the fact that they will only eat organically grown vegetables, never eat at MacDonald's, are aghast that soemone would use a cake mix from a box (you should see that thread I started lol), etc. I like good food and seek out fine ingredients myself, but I eat fast food and use cake mixes when too lazy to bake from scratch. I find the types of people I just mentioned as "looking down" upon and "judging" the way I eat. I see their eating behaviors as being quirky.

                                                                                                                                                      Okay, that's all I'm saying on this topic. I'm tired of explaining myself and I really think we've all beat this to death. I will not post again on this topic.

                                                                                                                                                      Now, for my next topic..."I only like the red M&Ms."

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                        On the topic of rejecting people's food, and judging... this reminds me of an experience with my college roommate. We both cooked frequently and would often offer each other food. She would always refuse, and I would always accept. Over time this led to hurt feelings on both sides, and when we finally talked about it, we realized that it was a cultural difference -- in my culture, it's rude not to accept food that someone offers because it's perceived as a personal rejection, while in her culture, it's rude to accept food because you should know the offerer is only offering to be polite, and you should be polite in return by not taking food away from them. After we had this conversation we also realized that when we cooked for ourselves, I would always make too much food, expecting to share it, and she would always make just enough for her, expecting not to share it.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Pia

                                                                                                                                                          Hahaha, that is too funny! I love it. I remember my first experience visiting an Italian friend's parents (this was in highschool). They kept on pulling more and more food out of the fridge, jars, cold storage... Marinated mushrooms they'd picked themselves... All kinds of goodies. And, oh my goodness, the pressure I felt to eat. I didn't have any aversion to it, but what to do when I wasn't hungry. I have since had that experience many, many times... I always feel betwixt and between, and feel that I can't win at making myself and the host/hostess happy, at the same time.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                          I truly respect your conduct in this unusual thread, ttoommyy.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                            I know that my point was and is that, for you, it ain't broke so it don't need fixin'. If I had the same quirk it would be broke and I'd be heading to a repair shop :)
                                                                                                                                                            PS: If you're only going to eat one color M&Ms, they should be green. Cause green makes ya horney!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                              "PS: If you're only going to eat one color M&Ms, they should be green. Cause green makes ya horney!"


                                                                                                                                                              That is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time!

                                                                                                                                                              Too true too! ;)

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                              Now, for my next topic..."I only like the red M&Ms."


                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                Never trust anyone who sez they never eat fast food ever ever ever. Especially if they sniff after saying it.

                                                                                                                                                                Cake and brownie mix is highly underrated. I do not want any of those people trotting off to the store to buy bagged up bread. I mean there is a giant leap's difference between a homemade loaf and say - Orowheat. And no buying premilled bleached flour or anything made from it. Nah aw awe.

                                                                                                                                                                Now where did I put those oreos?

                                                                                                                                              2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                i would be grossed out if i saw anyone getting close enough to the food to be sniffing at it!

                                                                                                                                              3. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                                                                For me, I grew up in a Mom & Pop grocery store (literally - our house was attached), and my dad was also a butcher who did his own meat. So we always had the "freshest" ingredients. You couldn't get much better unless you lived on the farm! So looks, smell, etc. really mattered - and my mom was a good cook (but then again, so was both my mom's parents).

                                                                                                                                          2. You ain't alone, I'm sorry to say I have the same problem. If the person who made the food is somebody I know well and/or somebody I trust for whatever reason I feel comfortable eating their food or drinking open beverages they're offering. Otherwise, just can't seem to make myself do it! It doesn't make any logical sense at all Then again, I'm also rather OCD (the actual disorder, not the casual definition) and have several quirks that defy explanation. For whatever reason, if I do not feel this other person has any personal interest or concern for my safety, I just can't consume the food or drink. Every now and then I wonder if it has anything to do with some food and drug tampering scares on the news when I was a kid, some of the ones that led to safety seals being popular? That really freaked me out when I was younger, and to this day I have trouble eating or drinking things from a store that ain't sealed. (Farmer's markets don't bother me as much though, no clue why.)

                                                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: sugarandstockings

                                                                                                                                              Thanks for "confessing" sugarandstockings. I'd wager there are a lot more like us than have 'fessed up here. I'm with you and think it may pertain to an early childhood incident. For me, it's a family that was very specific about what home made food should taste like. I think I just got used to the sights and smells of what my nuclear and extended families served at meals, so that food prepared at home by others just is not at all appetizing to me. For me it has nothing to do with food safety, though.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                Heck of a way to introduce myself with a first post yeah? Hey y'all, I'm a freak! Nice to meet ya!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: sugarandstockings

                                                                                                                                                  Believe me SansS, there is no shortage of freaks on this board! We are most certainly not alone! :) lol

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                    So CHOWHOUND is really a supporting group webstie in disguise?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                        If we're enabling butter, and I am so in.

                                                                                                                                              2. Feels kind of strange posting the same link in two different threads in the same day, but it just seems to "fit" in both cases.........

                                                                                                                                                Ever since watching the included youtube link, whether friend or stranger, I'm now at least wondering (if not directly asking) if the food I'm about to eat was prepared by a cat owner.

                                                                                                                                                (For those who don't want to watch a seven minute video, here's a partial clue - how many cats have you seen that were trained not to jump up on countertops?)


                                                                                                                                                15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                                                                                  Luckily, my two never did, but they definitely made it on to the dining room table.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                                                                    As a cat owner (2 at present), all I can say is, you gotta eat a peck of dirt before you die.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                      Well, I never had too much of a problem with them on the dining table... BUT, I do recall having a friend over once who freaked out when the cat made it up there shortly before we were to sit down. I had already put a new tablecloth on, so I changed the tablecloth to appease the friend... He was my cat, so I didn't think anything of it, but were I to visit a friend and find their cats lounging on the table, that might be a different matter, hahaha. Would it make me sick? Probably not... Still when one thinks about them traipsing through cat litter and who knows what, it does make--at least me--feel a little uncomfortable.

                                                                                                                                                      I was always grateful my cats never made their way onto the counter, not just from the point of view of cleanliness, but also for their safety. I recall one time my cat got on the dining table when a candle was lit, and the end of his tail flicked into the flame. No damage caused, as I was right there, but after that I only had candles in glass hurricane lanterns or votive holders, so the flame was protected. Cats seem oblivious to fire, at least mine did.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                                                                        Mine jump up on the table once in a while (the young one, anyway), ALWAYS when there's company of course. Most of our friends are catlovers in any case. (A great aunt went to a bridge party years back at another relative's place. The table was set with best china, silver, etc. And with Siamese cat, bottom and all fours sitting squarely on a plate. Hostess: "Oh, I'm so glad it's your plate, the other ladies just wouldn't understand!" - I of couse wouldn't be that cavalier myself.)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                          Hahahaha! Mine was a Siamese, too. No matter how dignified they appear, even while sitting on a plate, I wouldn't want that plate, either!

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                        Last week we were visiting an 85 y.o. friend of ours who has four cats and a dog. My husband got ready to use her panini grill and it appeared that she never cleans it. It was crusted with stuff and also weighed down with cat hairs. We live in a magic house so we weren't concerned about getting sick but he gave it a good scrubbing nonetheless. Cat hair is one of my least fave things to have in my mouth (and I have a cat).

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                          Agreed, but for me, I think it's any hair. Don't want to see hair in my food or feel it in my mouth.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                                                                            What full tummy said.
                                                                                                                                                            I visited a friend a few years back- she and DH had turned into a pair of crazy cat people, the six cats ran the house. I had 3 dogs at the time (down to one, sadly AND thankfully, and one of them was absolutely godless when it came to trying to keep her disobedient butt out of the kitchen) and was continually grossed out at the cat stuff, over and above the litterboxes everywhere. One morning I went to make myself a cup of tea, but when I opened the microwave there was a big smelly bowl of canned cat food in there- it was for one of the cats and in the MW so the others couldn't eat it while my friends were gone, to the vet with yet one of the other cats. I only bonded with one of the cats and the rottweiler who was a dear soul, but gosh darn it if they were cooks I wouldn't have eaten their food. As it turned out they didn't cook either- just fed and chased the cats around. End of issue. We ate out once in a while, and I lost weight on that trip.
                                                                                                                                                            BTW- the only restaurant I liked in central Florida- Dixie Crossroads. I'd just about kill for the broiled rock shrimp and those little sweet cornbread thingies with the powdered sugar on top they served. Magnifique.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                                                                                      I'm a dog person, and I well remember how disgusted I was (I think I gagged) when I found cat hair in the bottom of a pie tin on the kitchen counter at my grandmother's house. I forget if there was a pie in the tin or no ...

                                                                                                                                                      My dogs do not counter-surf, but they are longhaired dogs with an overcoat and undercoat, and the fur can float up to the counter when they simply walk through the kitchen on their way out the back door. I wish it wasn't true, but it is.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                                        We had a border collie, and once my ex found a dog hair in his dinner. His only comment was, "I'm glad it wasn't one of yours, or then I would have really been grossed out."

                                                                                                                                                        Of course, I was thinking, "I wash mine every day, and don't go rolling around in who knows what!"

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                                                          I can completely understand why he's your ex.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                                          It took me a long time to realize that the occasional dog hair that I have to fish out of something has probably "shed" from my t-shirt or sweater. Now I try to be more careful about what I wear in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                            Among true "dog people", there is a school of thought that a few dog hairs are kind of like a condiment- a friend's husband says "It's not a meal without a hair". A human hair found in food is not so welcome, however!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JenJeninCT

                                                                                                                                                              That is love. I'm sorry to say that I don't subscribe to that theory.

                                                                                                                                                              I should mention that I have an old house with vents in the floor, including one right below the kitchen counter. I'm sure that makes a difference (and not a good one).

                                                                                                                                                      2. Im the same way. My problem is that I dont know what they put in their dish and am really picky! I hate italian food (the smell of italian seasoning makes me sick) Dont do nuts at all, and am allergic to mushrooms. I also dont like potato salad or macaroni salad. These seem to be staples when people cook things for a potluck! When I go to other peoples houses they seem to always cook italian food. Its cheap and easy so I understand but feel bad saying no. By now my friends know I dont do Italian at all so I dont feel so bad saying no. But I just never know what I am eating if I dont cook it myself.
                                                                                                                                                        I do go to restaurants but if there is anything questionable I will request stuff like "no mushrooms". I will say I have been surprised tho... One time at Azteca (I dont like Mexican either) I ordered a side of rice and a side of broccoli. I got a side of rice and a plate full of broccoli covered in mushrooms! They got irritated cuz I didnt say no mushrooms but I still to this day don't understand why when I ask for a side of broccoli I should have to say no mushrooms???

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: beckshink

                                                                                                                                                          "They got irritated cuz I didnt say no mushrooms but I still to this day don't understand why when I ask for a side of broccoli I should have to say no mushrooms???"

                                                                                                                                                          lol It's almost as if they knew you didn't like mushrooms and put them off just to tick you of!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                            yeah, i'm guessing that they psychically knew she hated mushrooms, and spitefully loaded the plate up with the wretched bas&**(ds.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Yep! I have the same problem. When I was young, my parents had some very good friends (since Mom's childhood) and the wife was a notable slob in the kitchen. My mom hated us being invited to eat, even for cake and coffee/milk because "Jane" would taste what she was cooking, then reuse the tasting utensil without washing or replacing. Then there was the matter of food-stuff being spilled all over her counter tops, etc. Now today, I'm the same way about some people's cooking, particularly if I haven't seen them "in action". Work pot-lucks and restaurant buffets are not even considered. OK, maybe the Broadmoor. You just don't know the conditions under which some food is prepared and managed. At least in a restaurant, you figure the health department is looking over their shoulder. Maybe?

                                                                                                                                                          On the upside - I've finally learned to enjoy the pleasures of street/festival food- maybe a little too much. I used to not touch that either.

                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: blynk

                                                                                                                                                            you don't want to eat at a friend's home, but eat "street" food.

                                                                                                                                                            this thread is -- as mr. spock would say -- "fascinating."

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: blynk

                                                                                                                                                              C'mon, it's pretty normal for a home cook to taste from the cooking utensil. Sometimes I have a separate tasting spoon, but not always. I would if someone were watching me, for sure ;)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                                                It might be 'normal' but that does not make it sanitary or respectful of those that will be eating the food.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                  Please. If you are cooking for people you would kiss, then what's the darn difference? When I'm a healthy person cooking something that's boiling and taste from the spoon, it is absolutely sanitary. And anyone who thinks it's disrespectful is more than welcome to leave my house and never eat my food. Hey, and never speak to me, that'd be fine too.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                                                    Wow, I suppose I should have chosen the words for my post more carefully. I did not write it with intent to annoy or anger. The spoon thing has annoyed me for a while now. This goes back to the thread about picking up chicken bones off people's plates (apparently including guests) and making chicken stock with them. I don't really care how sanitary it is or is not. It's not something I think should be done in a kitchen just as I don't think a cook sticking a spoon in their mouth and then back into the food is a good. thing. What I don't really get is why do it? It's easy to grab a spoon, taste and put said spoon in the sink or dishwasher.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                                                      "Please. If you are cooking for people you would kiss, then what's the darn difference?"

                                                                                                                                                                      Kiss how? A friendly kiss on the cheek at the door? Sorry, but I don't want that person who kisses me on the cheek to taste food with a spoon he or she is using to cook with. And not all food boils: salad dressings, uncooked dips, etc. Yuck.

                                                                                                                                                                      My partner who I have swapped bodily fluids with for 18 years? If he is cooking just for me, then fine. He can taste from the cooking spoon all he wants.

                                                                                                                                                              2. I understand why we may be reluctant to eat someone's home cooking who cannot cook, but really, not being to able to eat a stranger's food due to health fears makes no sense to me. Unless you know that the cook in question has no sense of basic hygenic practices or has food poisoned a co-worker, chances are nothing will happen.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                                                                                                  "Unless you know that the cook in question has no sense of basic hygenic practices or has food poisoned a co-worker, chances are nothing will happen."

                                                                                                                                                                  I am the OP of this topic. Every aspect of this has been discussed. It is by far not a rational fear...it just is what it is. And for me, it has nothing to do with food poisoning; it is just that i cannot bring myself to eat most anything from someone I do not know.

                                                                                                                                                                2. I have never had this issue. Now, I am not saying that I would ever want THAT dish again, but maybe I would. It depends on the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                  Going back to our Colorado days, my wife made her wonderful New Orleans seafood gumbo for several events, ski club, tennis team, etc., and most attendees would decline - until they tasted the gumbo. Soon, all would be gone, and people lining up to get more. We never had any leftovers, but initially, everyone "knew" that they would not want something like THAT!

                                                                                                                                                                  Now, that does not mean that all dishes will be even close to my wife's gumbo, but one should relax, taste, and then they may learn to enjoy something.


                                                                                                                                                                  1. My only food phobia is not wanting to eat something that was kept in tupperware. All I have to do is see tupperware, and I start thinking about its thick plastic leaching out toxins into the food, particularly if it's food that was once hot, or has any vinegar or citrus in it. I have no problem with thin, see-through plastic containers like you get in a store.

                                                                                                                                                                    I have a friend who is part of a couple who share kitchen duties. My friend does the cleaning up, his partner the cooking. My friend frequently complains how his partner makes such a mess in the kitchen, and how he wishes he could cook like me, as I ALWAYS clean up as I go along.

                                                                                                                                                                    So, I went to their house for dinner once, and the partner has food all over the place, and he's under the sink trying to fix the disposal. Eeewwww....

                                                                                                                                                                    Now I have a slight issue eating anything I know the partner made. I accept it, but I'm never quite certain I should eat it. Sometimes I do, because the partner really does make some good things to eat. But I never quite feel like digging right in.

                                                                                                                                                                    I only have two food poisoning stories: one involved a jar of home-canned picalilli that was so good, I couldn't stop eating it; I was so sick. The other time, it was carbonara sauce in a restaurant. I don't eat home-canned food anymore, nor have I had carbonara I didn't make myself.

                                                                                                                                                                    I'd never heard of anyone's being so completely phobic about others' cooking before this. I've never worried about it much. With the very few exceptions listed above, I'll eat anything that's not on my "food I hate" list. I've always made things to bring places, and I've never had anyone turn down anything I make--at least, not that I know of. I'll have to observe everyone's behavior from now on.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. I am absolutely with you on this one. At the risk of offending those with children, even if I'm okay with eating something that the parent has made, I cannot bring myself to eat something a child has "helped" prepare. For some reason, it's usually cookies with frosting.

                                                                                                                                                                      I used to have a coworker who would absentmindedly pick his nose while working on his computer. He brought in cupcakes he hade made one day and was offering them to people getting his fingers in the frosting with each one he grabbed, and licking his fingers as he went. When he offered me one, I told him I was dieting. And one person did mention he found a hair in his cupcake.

                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                      1. I'm the OP of this thread and guess what I did today? I ate some food that a coworker's father made. And it was delicious! My coworker is Muslim and her sister recently became engaged. Over last weekend, her parents had about 60 guests for an engagement party. Her father made all the food. She was telling me what he made and asked if I liked saag. I said I did and she offered to bring some in as they had a lot left over. I then proceeded to tell her of my "affliction" and we had a bit of a laugh over it. Since I really admire this coworker, I decided to be "brave" and said sure I would like some. Well, she brought it in to work yesterday and I got up the nerve today to try some...and like I said earlier, it is delicious. This is not to say I will eat anything that anyone brings to work from now on, but I am open to trying more. Thanks for reading.

                                                                                                                                                                        16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy


                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks so much for the update - I have to tell you - reading it made me smile broadly!

                                                                                                                                                                          I'm so glad you decided to be brave - and that you didn't regret it!!

                                                                                                                                                                          I hope this in encouraging to folks who may be a little wary, but willing to forgo a phobia..
                                                                                                                                                                          Any kind - not just food.
                                                                                                                                                                          I know it is for me!

                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks ttoommy!!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                                                            I've been thinking about this for a while NellyNel and as the situation presented itself, I thought why not now? Thanks for your kind words!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy


                                                                                                                                                                              and you're very welcome.

                                                                                                                                                                              What is saag again?
                                                                                                                                                                              I am thinking it is chicken and spinach (?)

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                                                                Saag in its basic form is spinach (or mustard leaves) with spices. It can also be served with cheese and is called saag paneer. Not sure about the chicken.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, I have had it with chicken - and it is amazingly delicious!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                                                                    even better with lamb! i love saag!

                                                                                                                                                                                    congrats on kicking the phobia, ttoommyy.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                            Good to hear! And, good to hear that it was good. What a big set back it might have been if it weren't. I'll bet you made her and her father feel good, too. Win-win.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                              "And, good to hear that it was good. What a big set back it might have been if it weren't."

                                                                                                                                                                              I shudder to think what that would have done to me! lol :)

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                yeah, you would've been headed to a rubber room with jodie foster. http://images.allmoviephoto.com/2002_...

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                  I've eaten my share of bad potluck food but it's those rare finds that keep me going. I'm just an optimist at heart.;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                    Just hope that woman never brings in...Beefaroni!!! Aieeee!
                                                                                                                                                                                    Seriously, insdert cabbage patch dance here, happy for you!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yup. My brother-in-law's recent case of food poisoning, a result of a potluck, was of no help to me, hahaha.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                      That's cool. I knew you had it in you!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                        Good for you. Don't eat from coworkers who seem sloppy or houses where you know pets roam the countertops. But if you admire the coworker and know she comes from a clean house--dig in!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I am the same way. . .even if they are friends and they dont have a very clean kitchen or have many animals in the house, I cannot do it! If they are co-workers and there desk is sloppy or they are sloppy I have to imagine thier kitchen is sloppy! It isnt everyone, just some people! Dont feel bad!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I can kind of understand your reluctance considering the cleanliness I witness of some of my coworkers. lol. And I often do not eat things other people bring just because I am vegan. But I do take my priest quite a bit of food when I can. I have wondered if maybe he would chuck something I made if he didn't know me as well?? I think it is pretty common for people not to want to eat things made by strangers, even in many restaurants. Be sure to NEVER yell at anyone handling your food, no matter what... But then the bible says something about eating what is put in front of you when you are a guest that does make some sense. And my mom always said the cook's germs were part of the flavor. lol For example, grandma tastes her sauce from the same spoon she's stirring it with. I think it's normal and good to be cautious, but maybe loosen up a bit and take it on a case by case basis. I also think it's called exposure therapy. =)

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. you know at least with ppl you know you can see who cooked it have you seen many of the "cooks" in restuarants? theyre so nastyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: layla13

                                                                                                                                                                                                They are?!?!?!?! Where do you eat? I've never seen that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                  You know, I read layla13's comment above and it didn't faze me. But now that you bring it up c oliver, you're right! What kind of places is layla13 eating at to warrant the comment, "theyre so nastyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy" about the cooks? lol

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Government regulations allow certain levels of insect fragments, rodent hair, and droppings in spices. Vermin control in commercial kitchens is a constant battle. Fortunately, high temperatures and freezing kill the majority of pathogens your food encounters between planting and plating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Dear ttoommyy,
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I actually googled this topic and your description is the closest to what I experience as well. I can eat food prepared by some friends but not by other friends. It's embarrassing because I literally cannot bring myself to eat one bite and have to make up something such as I'm not feeling well or have been on a diet. Also cannot eat most potluck foods except perhaps a food someone picked up from a restaurant such as fried chicken, rolls, or Chinese food. I might eat baked ham if I know who brought it but not from a stranger! Cannot eat most foods at buffets in fast food places. Strangely, I eat at most restaurants but if I see a dirty bathroom or a worker do something icky or even if the table is dirty, forget it. But I know I eat at many fast food places and restaurants without problems. Cannot figure it out but for sure I am not starving! Have tried to recall childhood and family events or others that might have contributed to this but no one thing is wholly significant- maybe more like a string of events over time because I developed this aversion to some foods as a child when mom made my lunches. She smoked and had the cigarettes right in the counter while making sandwiches and I remember gagging to watch her yellow fingernails and fingers touch my food. I started going without lunch and throwing away my bagged lunch as soon as I was out of the house. This subsided after a year or so and I didn't have any problems until the last twenty years;
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm now 62. Well, just sorry you are experiencing this as well but this certainly hasn't interfered with
                                                                                                                                                                                                  99.9 percent of my very happy life, so perhaps shows you can go on in spite of the oddity of it! Thanks for listening.....this has been somewhat therapeutic for me since only my husband and a few friends are aware of this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: nkd123

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for sharing that with me/us nkd123. Believe me, we CHers are not without our faults and foibles. If there is anything I have learned from these boards it is that ALL people have certain "oddities" about them when it comes to food. You sound like your aversions are a bit more far reaching than mine, but we are definitely in the same boat. And believe me, I am far from starving; I have no problem at restaurants. I too had a mother who smoked, but that really had nothing to do with it. I think the fact that I loved my mother's home cooking so much and got used to how she made things is indeed a factor. Sounds like the opposite of your situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've come out, so to speak, to a few people at work about this. They usually laugh and some have told me they are the same. I told my boss about it the other day and she immediately countered with a story of how she got very sick after eating at a pot luck at work. She still indulges in them though, so I guess that fact does not scare away some people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I read this whole thread this past week, since it crawled out of the crockpot and onto the counter, as it were lol. Ttoommyy, you really have handled yourself with grace under a lot of inspection and criticism (of your very weird, weird, weird quirks lol). I nominate you for "Congenial ChowHounder of the Year". Wish all threads played as nice as this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you Duchess. I have to admit I have not been so nice on other threads so I accept your title for THIS thread but not for all of the CH boards. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                                          LOL, I have seen you misbehave elsewhere, now that I think of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Cyberspace can bring out the dark side somtimes. I really am a nice person. I just have to play devil's advocate sometimes when others get so self righteous. It's fun! LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                                              While I don't understand the use of CH by many as a confessional (bless me CH for I have sinned), I have to say you're good-natured about what's thrown at you as a result of your confessions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Part of the nature of reading, rather than hearing tone, is that it's easy to be misunderstood. I'm pretty matter of fact, even in real life, and it can come off wrong in what I'm saying. I've gone back and read my posts and thought, Oooh, I didn't mean for it to come off that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. As I have celiac, I literally cannot eat food prepared by others for fear of cross contamination in their home kitchens. Same goes for potlucks and so on. However, there are restaurants that I trust so I am able to eat out occasionally. Sounds weird for me to say this but my home cooking is just as good as most restaurants, anyway! Pre-diagnosis I did partake at potlucks and in others' homes but I still had some sort of aversion to certain dishes that were ill prepared such as egg salad sandwiches. No one could have forced me to eat one of those. :-(

                                                                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is my fear, with a daughter who has nut allergies. While she's not allergic to peanuts, I always use a separate knife for pb and then jelly so I don't cross contaminate in my home, since I know many people who do have peanut allergies. But, I don't know that others as are careful. I have to buy everything for my daughter at my mom's house because she doesn't think twice to store rice in cashew containers that she's never washed, just wiped down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have to say it's a relief to come upon this thread and realize I'm not alone. Sometimes it doesn't bother me at all, and I don't have a problem eating in restaurants, but on certain occasions, it's an issue. On the one hand, I think it comes down to cleanliness, but I'm not sure if that's all of it. Did they wash their hands? Is the kitchen clean? Where did they get the food from? Under what conditions did they prepare the meal?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I used to eat dinner regularly with an older Italian guy who was the father of a childhood friend. He used to tell me stories about certain mob figures in NJ (he had had "connections") and stories about the Bergen/Passaic County area of NJ in bygone years, and cook up pretty decent Italian food. Unfortunately, as he got older, he began to "slip" a bit. One summer day, he was stirring up a pot of sauce (or "gravy") and sweat was running down his nose into the sauce. Because he had always been a father figure to me, I calmed my churning stomach down through an enormous act of will and choked down at least some of the meal, pleading that I wasn't feeling all that great and couldn't eat like I usually did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sometimes with people I don't really know that well (as opposed to people I've known most of my life), I imagine scenarios that are far worse (which might say more about me than it does them). Does this qualify as some sort of neurosis? If it does, at least I know I'm not alone!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: legsdiamond12

                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Sometimes with people I don't really know that well (as opposed to people I've known most of my life), I imagine scenarios that are far worse (which might say more about me than it does them). Does this qualify as some sort of neurosis? If it does, at least I know I'm not alone!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You hit the nail on the head for me legs. And no, you are not alone at all!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: legsdiamond12

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think the key is to use that vivid imagination for other things ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Even if nobody in your family has an allergy, a separate knife MUST be used when spreading peanut butter, jelly, butter, or any other spread. I don't want toast crumbs in either the butter, peanut butter, OR the jelly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Have to concur with you on that, John E. Very distasteful to open a jelly jar, and see butter in it, or vice versa. Or jelly on cream cheese. Or crumbs in the peanut butter. Distasteful to the point of being nauseating although...again...that might say more about me than it does the person not using a separate knife.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I never really thought too much about this exact same problem which I have, until recently. I started dating a girl and on our most recent date she decided to bring home made pizza, which I foolishly talked/raved about on a previous date, not thinking she'd bring some with her, but she did. The date ended fine, but I have this immense guilt about turning down her food which she thoughtfully took the time to prepare. After reading all this I've decided I'm not (completely) crazy and I'll let her in on my problem. Good and bad to know other people have this issue as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          31 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm wondering how she feels being considered a "stranger" after enough dates that she'd want to make a special pizza for him and how she felt when it was turned down. Maybe we should look out for a thread, "I had a great date where the guy raved about pizza but when I took hours to make one for him, he didn't even touch it!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                What I took from that post is that he has a real food phobia and that he recognizes it. Sure, it might chase her off (it seems to me they have only had a few dates) but the honesty should help. If she's up to making pizza for him maybe she will help him work through this issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                (Foodieman, I hope you will stick around here. It took some guts to reveal this about yourself on your first post.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Happy that you, John E., noted it was Foodieman's first post. I seldom look. ttoommyy should be happy to have created a space in this thread for Foodieman to speak up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In June 2012 nkd123 replied to this thread with similar issues and it has been their only post so far.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think participation on these threads could help someone in this situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When I first started this thread on May 12, 2010, I never once hesitated or thought, "Gee, I am making a huge, soul-bearing confession." I just thought I had a family quirk that was kind of interesting and wondered who else may have it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fast forward to just about a month shy of 3 years later and once in a while someone resurrects this thread. And anytime someone does it because they have a similar "phobia," I have to wonder how they found this thread. Did they Google their "symptoms" and it came up as one of the hits? Interesting. I never once thought this thread would help anyone, but if it does, I'm happy for that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And by the way...I recently purchased some homemade granola from a snack cart here at work that had been circulating on a daily basis for the past few weeks to raise money for a local charity. Now, not all of the goods on it were homemade, and if they were, they were supposedly fresh. It takes a lot for me to actually go for something homemade so when I bought the granola, I took a big risk. It was packaged nicely, looked very good and most important, I just "felt" it was OK. I got back to my desk, poured some over a yogurt I had and proceeded to eat it. Wouldn't you know, the granola tasted of nothing but rancid oil! Talk about taking one step forward and several steps back! Needles to say, the granola and the yogurt went into the garbage. Oh well. It will be a while before I try again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't eat strangers food either and love reading others that share our 'phobia'.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Funny how you took a risk on the homemade granola, which is huge and found it to be rancid.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I feel your pain brother...a well known psychic told me that the reason for my food phobia was that I died by someone poisoning me and have carried that to this life.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Makes sense to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Maybe I hate snakes because I was Cleopatra in a past life...;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Maybe I hate snakes because I was Cleopatra in a past life...;-)"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And why you just made an "asp" of yourself. bbadum ching!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I like that psychic's thinking! Makes it much more "exotic" than just the fact that most people's personal hygiene gives me the heebie-jeebies and that's part of why I can't eat their food! lol

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've been responding to this thread but have not really said much about my own eating habits. I frequently refrain from eating strangers', food but more accurately, I sometimes avoid 'strange food'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If the food looks good and I am reasonably certain of what it is I might eat it. It has less to do with cleanliness and more to do with my tastes in food. If I'm at a potluck and somebody brings fried chicken they bought as take-out I am more likely to eat that rather than someone's hotdish.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sorry to hear. I have had more "misses" on home made food from strangers than hits but the hits have been worth the misses because some have been excellent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              What this thread reminds me of is learning how common some things are that we think might be unique. It makes me think of people who hate their food touching. The first time I heard it, I was surprised. But then, it turns out that a lot of people are like that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "It makes me think of people who hate their food touching. The first time I heard it, I was surprised. But then, it turns out that a lot of people are like that."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And then there are those that eat all of one food first before moving on to the next. That seems to be more common than I thought at first also.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think "eating all of one food first before moving on to the next" is the way most people eat. I have a number of friends who do this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I feel like the odd man out when I eat out with certain friends. I can't imagine doing it. I eat the opposite way. I have to take a taste of this, then a taste of that, and then the third thing, until I'm all done, usually ending with the exact amount I need for getting the last three bites evenly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "I think "eating all of one food first before moving on to the next" is the way most people eat. I have a number of friends who do this."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Really? I only no of one person in my group of family and friends who does this. I have heard many people do this, but I did not think it was the norm. Or is it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I did this as a child, but now I usually mix.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't mind food mixing but if there's a mix of finger foods and non, I'll eat all of one and then the other. I still can't figure out how to eat ribs AND cole slaw, or chicken and waffles. More of an issue now that I live south of the Mason Dixon line.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I can't imagine eating all the ribs then all the cole slaw. They're made to accompany each other, the thick/rich/hot and cold/clear/sweet-sour/crunchy complementing each other, bite by bite until they're all gone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I did this today at Pig & Chicken in East Liberty, essentially, with a BBQ chicken sandwich and cole slaw.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I eat a bite of the sandwich, put the sandwich down, pick up the fork, add a bite of cole slaw to my mouth, and then chew. Keep fork in hand if you like, and start with cole slaw in second mouthful. Repeat until finished.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, it was messy, but they gave me a couple of big napkins.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm like this with all my food, but I have numerous friends who are compelled to eat like Tommy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I never said I ate all of one food first, then the next and so on. I mix it up. I said I did not think eating all of one food at a time was how most people eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were making a case for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            No worries. I could never eat any other way than you describe. I too make it work out so that I have an even amount of food left for those perfect last three or so bites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A sandwich is far less messy than ribs. You'd have to keep wiping my fingers after every bite of rib. On a sandwich, I top the cole slaw in the sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Agreed. In fact, I tend not to eat ribs because you get so little for the effort you put in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But I could never eat warm cole slaw. At least if you're me, the BBQ and the coleslaw exist in opposition to each other. They're not to be blended together like an omelet filling inside the slices of bread. Plus, warm mayo = ick to the fifth power.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              warm cole slaw, i agree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              but don't be dissin' on poor ol' warm mayo. it is the foundation of many a lovely cheesy dip concoction -- my favorite involving artichokes, spinach and parmesan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              plus, one can brush mayo on fish and broil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              OK, my little OT ramble is now concluded. LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              but please don't tell me, anyone, that you put food in your mouth, start to chew, and then add more food to your mouth before you have swallowed the first bite. i don't want to see your open maw with pre- or mid-mastication materials. eeeuuuuwwwww. very rude to your dining partners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              that surely isn't what you meant when you, Jay F, wrote: "I eat a bite of the sandwich, put the sandwich down, pick up the fork, add a bite of cole slaw to my mouth, and then chew. Keep fork in hand if you like, and start with cole slaw in second mouthful. Repeat until finished."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                First, alkapal, the fact that you put mayonnaise on fish before you cook it basically precludes the possibility that you and I can do any serious food comparisons. I love fish so much, I'm thinking you must have read it somewhere, and purposely wrote the fish/mayo thing as a way of pulling my leg. In which case, cute.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As for the sandwich, I think I'm going to have to get back to you on the "put the sandwich down/pick up the forkful of coleslaw" thing. If it sounds disgusting, I must not be describing it correctly, as I believe it's the way many, if not most, people would tackle this meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's an enormous sandwich, one you literally can't hold in one hand without it falling apart until it's halfway gone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Do you recall that "do you hate soup spoons?" thread? In order to figure out why I don't hate soup spoons, I literally had to sit down and pay close attention to how I actually eat soup from a soup spoon. This may be another such instance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But again, you are a person who puts mayonnaise on fish before broiling it, so no matter how I eat my sandwich(es), we're even, grossnesswise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I say this with all the humor and kindess in the world. I think you're swell.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  awww, that's so sweet of you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  fine, i'll keep my tartar sauce and hollandaise to myself when you come to dinner, too. (if i'm having shrimp, i'll also hoard my remoulade). LOL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ps, i was born and raised on the gulf coast of south florida, so i've eaten fish every which way one can imagine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Remoulade would be cold, and so would the shrimp, right? Totally edible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have to say I'm not that fond of tartar sauce. I never thought of it before. I suppose it's because it's served with hot food. Hollandaise I'm neither here nor there about. I don't care for poached eggs, so I never order Eggs Benedict.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There is one great use for hollandaise, though: the Oysters Rockefeller at the Palm. I think it might have a tiny bit of saffron to brighten it up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's not warm cole slaw just like the lettuce and tomatoes don't get cooked on a burger. Cooked lettuce might sound bad but it's still crispy on the burger. it's really no different having it in your mouth at the same time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Most likely you'll eat your way and I'll eat mine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  When cole slaw sits on a hot sandwich, it warms up. And it sogs up somewhat, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, and FWIW, while I'll eat a warmed-up tomato on a burger, no way on warm iceberg.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It would be fun if alkapal and ttoommmmyy lived in PGH and we could all go to Pig & Chicken for lunch some day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No ribs? Can I have your portion? I'd eat the hell out of them. No effort is too much for ribs.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You certainly may have mine, JG. Way too messy for me. Plus, until very recently, there was nowhere to get them where I live that's particularly good. I may actually try them at this new place, Union Pig and Chicken, in Pittsburgh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I helped a friend make some at his house, following a recipe he picked out to a T, and they didn't taste very good. I'd be surprised if you would have put out much effort. They were made indoors, in winter. Maybe they'd have been better cooked outside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. lucky you.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            food brought in by coworkers added 20 pounds to me the first 3 weeks on the job.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            would have been so much better to have been repulsed by the food rather than seduced by it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Unfortunately, I'm in this boat. Though perhaps having a bit more caution might serve me well, because in addition to snacking on office food (and its imprint on my waiste) - I've also gotten a few boughts of really bad food poisoning. Which still hasn't done much to curb my thoughts on the issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              However, I think that a lot of the issues mentioned in this post combine with a lot of other germ/cleanliness related issues. There are the very strict cases of "x ingredient has been unopened in the fridge for y time period - what are the chances it is or is not spoiled" - but there are the more ambiguous cases of sick people in restaurants, sick people hosting, etc. For some, these issues seem to strongly matter but not for others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I understand that. I don't suffer with this myself but much about the concern of it completely makes sense.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              did they wash their hands?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              is the kitchen sponge they use to wipe the counter before rolling the cookie/pie dough devoid of germs?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              was the main ingredient used by 'still fresh' code?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              did they really make it for 'work' or was it made 4 days ago and brought in because it was a leftover?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              when I bring cookies or candy to work if my coworkers 'pass'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't take offense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              valid concerns.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's what I think when I see food prepared by someone else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I used to bring in lots of baked stuff to work and once in a while, party leftovers. Pretty much everyone ate it. No one ever seemed concerned, but most of my coworkers knew I was a clean freak

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Interesting! Well, it doesn't seem like enough of a problem to need a solution. What if someone makes brownies or cookies for the office, do baked goods have the same reaction?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm glad you can still enjoy restaurants!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I have that same problem ... Like exactly the same

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Oxbow19

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nice to know there's another out there!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Actually, the more I "come out" about this at work to certain individuals, the more kindred spirits I find. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I think your reservations are quite normal. I have a co-worker that bragged and bragged about his fiance's incredible baking skills. So you can imagine we were all excited when on occasion a tupperware container with cookies or a cake came in after she baked more than "two could eat".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Flash forward to New Year's eve. Some colleagues of mine went to this co-worker's place for a party, and his fiance answered the door BAREFOOT and with filthy feet (I was told the soles of her feet were gray.) It seemed odd to host a party barefoot, and also, she lives in a city, and this was winter which made it even more unlikely and dd. Apparetly, the apartment was also filthy, and no one wanted to eat, despite the food looking and smelling good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now when the tupper ware comes in to our workplace, I'm "on a diet", So do I understand where you are coming from? Sure! Restaurants may have strangers cooking but at least the Health Department visits them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "Sure! Restaurants may have strangers cooking but at least the Health Department visits them."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And from the "Dirty Dinning" segments on the local news, not enough

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Whatever you do, don't read Kitchen Confidential. You don't want to know what goes on behind the scenes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I get it...and agree, but life must go on. In the case of my coworker, I KNOW what is behind the scenes, and thus opt out of sampling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In restaurants, it's all trust - but hey, I like dining out too much to stop for fear of what I don't know or see. I guess I file it under the "rather not think about it" section. In NYC, they put letter grades up, so that helps somewhat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          IDK, sometimes the floor is dirty, but the kitchen is clean? I cook for someone whose bathroom is disgusting, but the kitchen is clean.. and I clean the work surfaces before starting to work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If I go to someone's house and the bathroom is "disgusting" there's a good chance I won't be eating at that person's house... nor returning any time soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Call me old fashioned, but when I have guests, the spaces they are in must be clean. I don't mind casual, but I do mind filthy. I think dirty floors and feet are something you should not inflict on visitors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                of course, this is not a Social Visit... I am working in people's homes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh yes! Agree - and in that case, you do what you can.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I have this aversion as well, but only with certain people's food. Usually it stems from seeing their cooking in progress previously. It's slightly pretentious, but I often don't want to eat their food because I think I can do a better job. I don't want to "waste" a meal eating inferior food. Of course, this doesn't apply to everyone and is not always the case, but the mind works in mysterious ways!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I do not think this is anything to "suffer" from. I don't eat that stuff, either. There is no way to know what goes on in someone else's home-cats on the kitchen counter, running hands through hair while cooking, etc. In a restaurant, there is a health code rating, and if there's a problem, customers can sue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. My mom has always been exactly this way. She won't touch anything at a bake sale or potluck and would never go to someone's house for a meal. She was always fine with restaurants, oddly, until about 8 years ago and now she's getting worse as she's getting older. She'll only eat prepackaged food from the grocery store that comes in a sealed container. She is this way about other things too, not just food. Her aunt was the same way. I'm not and I hope this thing doesn't carry down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. The world is full of gross things and gross people - this is why we have immune systems. Your own food, other peoples food and restaurant food is full of things you don't want to think about. Within reason its not going to hurt you if someone picked their nose or pet their cat before kneading the dough or licked a spoon and stuck in back in the batter - what you don't know wont kill you- heat kills lots of stuff too. Unless you are immune compromised you really don't have to worry much and it is in your head. Human Beings have been eating less than perfectly sanitized food for millennia and lived to tell - I would rather eat a muffin someone made from scratch in their messy kitchen with a dog-licked bowl and a double dipped spoon than a factory made plastic wrapped confection made primarily of hydrogenated corn and soy byproducts and sugar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In my case, it has nothing to do with catching anything or getting sick. It is just the thought, pure and simple. I have said repeatedly, I realize this is a psychologically-based phobia that has no real basis in "reality" for want of a better word. I deal with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I Understand that - was not trying to criticize you personally- just making a general comment to some thoughts expressed in the thread in general. Sorry was not trying to put you on the defensive as the OP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Severe knee and heart-rate problems have deteriorated my housekeeping, so I concentrate on keeping the bathroom and kitchen fixtures clean, the rest is catch as catch can. When cooking just for myself, I've never cared if I didn't wash hands after patting the dog, before cooking. But when I make something to share with others, I am rigorous about such things, tasting spoons, etc. But I agree that even if I weren't, there's less chance of my food making someone ill than that from the local greasy spoon, or even better restaurants, if exposes are to be believed. The irony is that those whose diligence is successful in keeping their exposure to pathogens, foodborne and otherwise, are probably doing themselves no favors at all. Autoimmune diseases, food allergies/intolerances, and other problems may be the result, according to many respected scientists.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I rarely eat out, and rarely have GI upsets. Wednesday night I had a fast food burger. It might as well have been a colonoscopy prep. I had no nausea, aches, or chills, and was fine after a few hours spent mostly in the "reading room". I assume it was the burger though I can't prove it. I figure my immune system is the better for it, and at the risk of TMI, isn't there something invigorating about a gut cleansing, even an unplanned one? I've never been to a spa, but as far as I know, people pay big bucks for what I got from the fast food franchise at no extra charge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. yes i have the same problem ive had it for years i can only eat at my mothers or have meal deliveries . i couldnt eat a strangers sandwiches or have a drink of them i would throw up the thought of it .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I have the same problem as well. Not with everyone, but select individuals. If someone I know has cleanliness issues then I cannot eat food prepared by them. I have seen people bring food in the bathroom to prepare while taking a crap and this has scarred me for life. Licking your fingers, petting animals, rubbing your hands all over your face and hair without washing your hands afterwards will traumatize me for life. I don't care how good of a cook you are. I also know someone who fed me dessert that was in the freezer for 2 years. The same person will also serve meals of uncertainty that have been in the freezer for years. Sorry, just can't do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. My brother has the same sort of fear.. he cannot eat food prepared by others he does not know really well, even relatives' dinner gatherings would make him kindly decline. Only our mom's cooking would make him eat with ease at any given time. He's always been like that, I tried cooking and asking him if wants some.. but of course he says no, but follow by a laugh so he doesn't hurt my feelings. I'm ok with that, which means I don't need to ever cook for him lol
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And with the eating at restaurants, he's just like you as well, he's fine with it...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How I stumble on to your post was me finally searching up if such phobia existed... that's what I told my Bro I would do...


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Seeing this thread revived, I'm noting how insistently ttoommyy has reiterated that he simply wants to know how many people out there are this way (as opposed to inviting debate about what it means to be this way).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So I'll just add that I know of one person sort of this way: she will not eat anything unless she knows and preferably SEES every ingredient going into the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not sure how she deals with restaurants, as I don't know her directly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. The fact that restaurant food doesn't cause the same reaction as food cooked by miscellaneous strangers suggests a need to consult some therapist competent to deal with phobias. We all have them, and they are all, on the face of it, irrational, like my spider phobia. I have to kill even a tiny spider if it's in the same room with me or I will be very uncomfortable. If it was a snake, no problem at all (assuming of course, that it is not a venomous snake or a large constrictor of some kind).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: emu48

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Only if the phobia is a problem. If not, it is just an individual preference. OP did not ask for help overcoming it.