What would you do when you are dating someone who is so picky about food?
I thought children are hard to please. But dating a grown up who is picky about food is like a nightmare. What would you do?
I'm Thai, I cook Thai food and any fusion food I can think of regularly. My bf grew up in new york city, I would respectfully say, from a family that don't explore much on food. When we first start dating, I made him a green curry and he would hesitate to eat and ask about every vegetables on the dish. He did not know eggplant, bamboo, and basil, and couldn't distinguish between sweet potatoes and bell peppers...i know it may sounds unbelievable. I was shock and annoy for awhile.
Now he is not as picky. My solution was making him simple dishes that don't have an acquire taste, pad thai and chicken and broccoli, for example. Then I moved on to more traditional taste. At some point, I told him, "I can't make dishes that you can eat all the time. I will start making what I like to eat. Either you eat or make something for yourself." Harsh? I don't think so. He was more willing to try a new dish, not only just Thai food but also other cuisines. I cook and he cleans, it works!
I married the picky eater ... dare I say "picky no more" :-)
My approach was similar to yours. I'm a vegetarian. His mother was a "meat and 3"-style home cook who liked to make sure everything was well cooked (main source of his picky habits).
I found middle ground meals, and ones that stretched boundaries. And today he's still not a huge fan of sweet potatoes or gourds (of any sort), but he will eat any green I put in front of him, most root vegetables, assorted cheeses, isn't horrified by fresh herbs and many other things I know I'm forgetting! Mushrooms used to be considered the devil, now he goes out of his way to make scrambled eggs (stirred over low heat even!) with mushrooms. And he's learned to cook, wield a knife and experiment with spices (that involved some "interesting" meals ...)
When I told him I was going to experiment with first okra and then beets (the only 2 vegetables neither of us were fond of) he went along willingly. And both have become favored vegetables.
If the meal contains an element he still doesn't care for I get a "good despite the ___" The avoid list is much shorter now, and becoming shorter daily, so I'm quite pleased with the results. And I've turned him into a chowhound ... no more overcooked, under seasoned blah food for him :-)
If your BF is a willing participant and you're patient and respectful, it can work.
I think the fact that he's willing to try new things, and (presumably) doesn't disparage your cooking - he's just kind of wary - is a good sign.
Personally, I would have difficulty dating a picky eater, because food is such a big part of my life. I like cooking it, eating it, reading about it, experimenting with it. My husband and I have very different food backgrounds, in terms of the kinds of food we both grew up with. But we're happy to try new things, and usually like the results.
One question to ask yourself is where do you see this going? Can you see him reaching your level of eating, or will you have to scale back your style of cooking permanently. And if you get married and have kids, how will you approach food - if Daddy can be picky about what's served, it's going to be very difficult to convince the kids to eat everything.
It seems that you have already made significant progress which is not easy- I know as I've dated a few men with similar food issues. As long as the rest of your relationship is working I would not make this a deal breaker. However, I have found that people who are this extremely food restricted are often unadventurous in other aspects of their life... which when taken together did become a deal breaker for me. You can't stand the thought of a Malaysian restaurant, ok... but you don't want to travel the world with me? Uh uh. Go figure that I'm married to a man who is recovering from a mountain climbing injury! :}
Sounds like you are awakening his palate which is wonderful, but this is not a turf war. Yes, individual dining choices is just one of the many areas of compromise that show up in good relationships. It may lead to two separate dining choices in meal preparation, but there are still lots of other things that you can enjoy together. I wouldn't make this a deal breaker. However, if you "won" the I cook, you clean compromise in your favor, I say you are off to a good start. Time is in your favor. Plus as we get older our taste buds get lazier and we start looking for spicier and more robust flavors which you will be in a perfect position to provide. Thai is a spectacular cuisine flavorwise. Lucky guy. But think of baby-steps when anything as fundamental as dining habits are changed. Just think how hard it would be to change you into a bland American diet fan - yech, probably would never happen. So just the reverse might also be true for your BF. Change is not going to happen overnight.
You could always involve him with the creation of the meal. Take him to the grocery store (a farmers market would be even better!) and have him choose the main components for a dish (with your guidance of course, so the things he chooses actually complement each other). Then you could cook the meal together, which can be an extremely fun evening, and food you make yourself is always more rewarding.