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May 12, 2011 10:39 AM

Question: When you say, "I Hate . . . .

I'm just curious. When you say you "hate" something, what do you mean? Is it just a euphemism for "I prefer not to eat it, but will choke it down." Or, do you really mean "I'd prefer to throw the plate across the room then put a morsel of that vile substance in my mouth." Does the thought/smell of it cause true revulsion?

I ask as I see the phrase often used here, yet I would expect that a 'houndish love of food would mean not hating any food (or, at least, not any food that one has never tasted). I am not a big fan of smoked or pickled fish, but I'll eat it if placed in front of me. I may have used the H word to describe how I feel about it, but certainly in a jocular spirit.

What about when its applied to a place, or a whole class of restaurants/cuisines?

Basically, when you say "I hate ________," what are you saying??

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  1. Hate is pretty strong. I was raised to say "x is not my favorite."

    4 Replies
    1. re: mnosyne

      i absolutely agree. I can't think of a single thing I would use the word "hate" for. I "don't particularly like" green peppers. That's about it, come to think of it.

      1. re: DGresh

        I rarely the use the word "hate" for anything. When it comes to food I reserve it for items that would require extreme acts of will to, literally, choke down. For me there are only a few in this category, including black olives.

        1. re: taos

          Eggs - especially hard or soft boiled. I don't think I can even will them down. Yes, I hate them!

      2. re: mnosyne

        But not my favorite implies I can and will choke it down. Hate on the other hand is clear that no way no how is that passing my lips.

      3. When it pertains to cilantro, I mean "I hate" - because it tastes absolutely vile to me. Soapy, nasty, and I truly abhor the taste.

        And when it pertains to fast food joints, I hate what they've done to REAL food restaurants. (DISCLAIMER: Although I do need my 4x a year craving of fast food french fries.)

        1 Reply
        1. re: LindaWhit

          Yes, with cilantro it's definitely hate. Olives, too. Hate as in I don't even want to put it in my mouth.

        2. Like mnosyne, I was taught not to say I hate any food, rather to say "I don't care for ____." That is still my general/polite response when offered food I do not like or would rather not eat. Among close friends/family (and 'hounds) I will occasionally use "hate" to describe my attitude to certain foods. In those cases, hate means the thought of eating the food brings me to the brink of tears, and I will not eat it even for the sake of being polite. Fortunately, there are very few things that I hate. I do not like coffee, but will politely each tirimisu if offered in a formal setting. I hate mayonnaise, and would not eat it for a million dollars.

          3 Replies
          1. re: mpjmph

            I was brought up the same way, mpjmph. Or just a simple "no thank you" if I realize something has cilantro in it (and I'm at someone's home instead of a restaurant).

            And I know someone else who frequents CH that won't eat anything with mayo either. :-)

            1. re: LindaWhit

              Count me in. Few things I hate, and I would never apply it to an entire cuisine or anything I haven't tried. But I have tried both mayo and cilantro and truly, I hate them.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Yup I'm a die hard mayo hater, ew ew ew, I have spit things out that I was tricked into eating with it in it! I can tell its there no fooling me and I would rather go hungry than eat it and have in the past! Instead I make recipes that call for it with greek yogurt.

            2. I've used the word in a kidding fashion, but there is one food that I can correctly use the word 'hate': raw onions.

              When I was a child, we were physically punished if we did not eat everything that was put on our plates, and out of my childhood dislikes, raw onion is the only one that remains. If confronted with a dish that contains raw onion, only a strong word like 'hate' feels close to the emotional stew bubbling up inside. I would only use that word while dining with family or close friends, and choose a more moderate expression to decline in the company of all others. Hate, in this context, just means 'NO' as emphatically as possible. I'm trying to forestall the usual comments, like "You can barely taste it!" or "It's just a little bit." or "Just *try* it." by letting the seven year-old inside have her little tantrum.

              That's a lot of emotional baggage for a raw onion to bear, I know. ;)

              24 Replies
              1. re: onceadaylily

                lets not even start on emotional baggage...........

                but coconut is usually something id spit out rather than eat...

                and yes ive tried them....

                1. re: srsone

                  But the question was what drove one to say the word 'hate' in relation to food. And many of us, on many other threads, have talked about how some of our food choices are driven by emotion, and memory. I felt I answered the question fairly.

                  I gave liver a second go this past fall. All I can say is, it had its chance.

                  1. re: onceadaylily

                    "some of our food choices are driven by emotion, and memory"

                    Absolutely. I would argue that many more food choices are driven by such factors than most people will, or can, admit. In fact, I'm not sure that it is possible to separate the psychological from the physical when it comes to taste. Unlike our other senses, our perception of what we taste is instantly associated with a judgment, and very difficult to accept only as observation.

                    1. re: MGZ

                      I'll offer up the cilantro debate as evidence to the contrary-- for a significant proportion of the population at large, it just. tastes. bad.

                      Andouille...just smells and tastes awful to me.

                      Beets just don't taste good to me -- and it was the one food I was given free rein to avoid like the plague (we were each allowed one thing that we didn't have to eat) -- so there's no baggage there, either.

                      Doesn't have to have any kind of emotional baggage to it -- yuck is yuck.

                      But I agree that psychology does account for SOME things. (Whatever the last thing was you ate before you were violently ill -- for any reason -- tends to be pretty avoidable for a pretty long time.)

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        "bad," "awful," etc. are judgments. I'm not saying all such judgments have emotional elements associated with them, but they are not solely physical. We make a "pleasure/pain" conclusion about taste that goes beyond mere experience of flavor. In part it is clearly instinctual, but it also has an experiential element to it of which we are not always conscious.

                        I understand the various mutations that have been identified concerning how some people taste things differently than others, but the reactions to them are fundamentally the same.

                        1. re: MGZ

                          by that logic, avoiding a hot burner is also psychological - -it hurt like hell, so we're going to stay away from it because of the mental trauma and emotional issues of getting next to a hot stove.

                          I follow the logic, but think the line between physical and psychological is being drawn a little too fuzzy in this particular instance.

                          Hot hurts, bad things taste bad -- there's nothing psychological about it.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            I understand that there is nothing psychological about it for *you*, sunshine. But I would think that the question of whether a food dislike is, or can be, driven by such a thing as psychological associations does not have a simple yes or no answer that would apply to everyone across the board.

                            1. re: onceadaylily

                              I gave you that it surely governs *some* things, so I'm not sure where you're getting that it's at all about me.

                              If someone was forced to eat liver once a week their entire childhood, yes, absolutely, that's emotional baggage. (and I feel badly both for their having been a victim of abuse AND for the ongoing issues it causes)

                              But if someone tastes something that invokes a gag reflex, that's more primal animal learning -- this made me gag therefore I'm not going to eat it again.

                              It hurts to put my foot in the fire, therefore I'm not going to do that again (animals and small children do a lot of learning by this route, particularly when young and less likely to form emotional barriers to things)

                              A lot of things that are harmful have a bad taste for exactly that reason -- they taste bad, you spit them out, it doesn't harm you. (works with bugs and weeds in the wilderness, too -- and you're really not going to convince me that a sparrow is emotionally traumatised by that bitter-tasting caterpillar....and we are truly not that far removed from animals in some ways, no matter how much we want to think differently.)

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                "I gave you that it surely governs *some* things, so I'm not sure where you're getting that it's at all about me . . . and you're really not going to convince me that a sparrow is emotionally traumatised by that bitter-tasting caterpillar....and we are truly not that far removed from animals in some ways, no matter how much we want to think differently."

                                I don't want to convince you of anything. I just want to agree to disagree. You stated that "bad things taste bad -- there's nothing psychological about it" which is your perception. Like I said, this doesn't hold true for *me*, but for you it does. I do not think there is a right or wrong answer to this question.

                                1. re: onceadaylily

                                  Indeed. It's me who's saying there's always something psychological about it. And I didn't mean to get too tangential, however, I suppose it was inevitable.

                                  BTW - Is it the word "psychological" that stirs trouble? People have a great fear of it. Many will admit all sorts of physical maladies, but never psychological ones (I truly appreciate lily's candor). So should we just say there is a "mental" component to taste aversions instead?

                                  1. re: MGZ

                                    Thanks, and ha! I think mental sounds worse. 'Associations' is a nice word.

                                    Thread highjack (unintentional) over. :) Interesting discussion though.

                                2. re: sunshine842

                                  Your nervous system has pain receptors. People don't vary very much in terms of how they interpret signals from said pain receptors - they're pretty much considered unpleasant across the board.

                                  Your tongue has no specialized receptors for bad tastes, though to varying degrees people tend to reject things that taste bitter. And while it's unclear to what extent food aversions are innate (though I'll grant you that some seem to be), it's easy to show that many food preferences and favored foods are learned, acquired over time.

                                  Invoking psychology with respect to taste isn't to say that one's experience eating something that tastes 'awful' isn't genuinely unpleasant, or even that they have a choice in the matter. It's just admitting that there is great variance in how different people interpret the same sensory data (or even the same person at different times), more than there is with pain - which also has a psychological component, btw.

                                  There is also one's overall disposition towards food - whether you enjoy trying new things and revisiting old aversions or do so with trepidation - which can dictate whether you're likely to get over food aversions or form intense new ones quickly. Very offhand, I often see what seems to be a strong emotional component to this overall disposition, even when it's lacking in relation to specific foods.

                              2. re: sunshine842

                                Avoiding pain due to past experiences, learned responses, is a psychological process, as is aversion to a food based upon past experiences. Your analogy, however, provokes some interesting thoughts. For one, we have aversions to actual harms from having experienced real injury, but why do we sometimes have aversions to things that are harmless? I mean, using your beets as example, they have a taste that your tongue/mouth processes and sends to your brain. Good vs. bad is then determined in the brain and the judgment is formed. Your brain knows that they won't actually harm you, but still generates the displeasure signal, comparable to the "hot" touch response. Totally, not what I was thinking about when I started this thread, but fascinating nonetheless . . . .

                            2. re: sunshine842

                              But I agree that psychology does account for SOME things. (Whatever the last thing was you ate before you were violently ill -- for any reason -- tends to be pretty avoidable for a pretty long time.)

                              Vodka and orange juice. I've done VERY well avoiding it since I was about 20yo. ;-)

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                Not so good the second time around, eh?

                                1. re: EWSflash

                                  And third and fourth times. Soon after the second time.

                            3. re: MGZ

                              I've read most of this debate and it seems like it is very similar to the genetics vs environment debate in the scientific community or aka nature vs nurture. IMO our world is a blend of both camps. I offer my husband's palette, he will eat anything literally, even if he doesn't like it. There are two foods from his childhood he consistently throws a fit about if I cook even though he has admitted that my cooking is far superior to his mother's and the dishes are good. Spaghetti and roast beef. Apparently the only two things she could cook and not well at that. Yet he has a mental block about eating them even if they are prepared deliciously rather than poorly. So yes our palettes I believe are a mixture of instinct/genetics and experience/environment.

                              Also most poisons and poisonous plants have a bitter taste, which is why most people shy away from overly bitter food, your brain is telling you it may be poisonous due to the bitter taste.

                            4. re: onceadaylily

                              didnt say u didnt answer it fairly

                              mine was kinda sarcasmy.... :-)
                              meaning i have plenty of baggage myself...

                              like the fact that i wouldnt eat any kinds of nuts for most of my life...due to the fact that my mother was so scared i would choke on one when i was little that she told me i didnt like nuts so i wouldnt eat them (she told me this later) so i never ate them..and wouldnt eat anything if it even had nuts...almost like i would if i was allergic to them...
                              but it turns out i like some them and eat them now

                              and thats just for starters...

                              1. re: srsone

                                Ah, gotcha. Guess I was in a defensive mood. ;)

                                My parents saved the 'you don't like it' for the expensive adult-only food treats they enjoyed once in a while.

                              2. re: onceadaylily

                                I totally agree. I think most of my strong food feelings have more to do with memory and emotion than actual taste.

                              3. re: srsone

                                I. Hate. Coconut! No 'usually' about it. If I were on a deserted isle with nothing but coconut trees, I would starve to death. Better than eating coconut.

                              4. re: onceadaylily

                                I agree on the raw onion thing, and while we were not physically punished, we had to sit there until done. There are now many things I dislike because of that.

                                I may not use the word "hate" in polite company, but I also don't say "xxx is gross"....because it's my taste, and I'm sure someone out there loves it.

                                There are many foods (mostly vegetables and cooked fish) that I really can't stand the smell, texture or taste of. Some will cause a physical reaction, others may just ruin my day.

                                At a conference a couple of weeks ago, I told myself to try anything that I knew my body could handle (no leafy greens). I tried a fried onion garnish to some beef of some sort, and it was actually very tasty, for onion. Soggy and greasy - not something that works for a 400-person sit-down meal, but tasty.

                                1. re: tracylee

                                  I think my parents were too tired to wait us kids out at night. ;)

                                2. re: onceadaylily

                                  "Hate, in this context, just means 'NO' as emphatically as possible."

                                  Well said.

                                3. Depends whether I hate something or not. If I do, sure, I say I hate it.

                                  I hate any kind of egg dish in which the whites and the yolks aren't mixed together (love scrambled, souffles, omelets, hate pretty much the rest).

                                  I hate raw onions.

                                  I hate most, if not all, cruciferous vegetables.

                                  I hate cooked cabbage in any form.

                                  I am having a hard time trying to get myself to cook Indian food. Just the thought of coconut milk makes me want to hurl. I went shopping last week for everything I needed to make some Indian dish, and I just couldn't bring myself to spend money on coconut milk (and coconut, for that matter). I ended up putting everything back and buying some fish. I don't know if this constitutes "hate" or not.

                                  I simply do not understand the "houndish love of food would mean not hating any food" line of thinking. I can't imagine liking everything. And I am quite certain I have never met a single person who likes everything.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    Well I think there are two forces at work here. One, as mentioned earlier is the emotional memory. I grew up hating two foods passionately; avocados and canteloupes. Just last year I realized through a friend's intervention that avocados are actually quite good. I still have that mental twinge when I eat them, but they are really delicious once I get past that. However, I will hate canteloupe until I die. It tastes vile and smells vile.

                                    in short, there is a lot to be said for being willing to challenge our preconceived notions and knowing that taste, like everything else, can be learned. But there are also those foods that for whatever reason we just really and truly dislike. I will try anything. Some I will like and some I won't, but how much poorer my life would be if I hadn't forced myself to go past my instinctive reaction to sushi, sweetbreads or foie gras.

                                    1. re: JonParker

                                      I don't have any negative emotional memory attached to food, beyond certain examples of my mother's cooking: spam & velveeta omelets she never scraped or turned; "coffee," which consisted of equal parts coffee, sugar, and evaporated milk. But these things were so inedible, and so specific as to cook, time, and place, there is little possibility I will ever encounter them again.

                                      Also, I did not come from a family where we had to eat anything we didn't like, and that includes not liking the *smell* of something.

                                      I've tried everything I listed above, with the possible exception of coconut milk, so when I say I hate something, I am quite certain that yes, I hate it.

                                      1. re: Jay F

                                        I'm not really disagreeing with you, just pointing out that the reasons why we hate certain foods can vary.

                                        Sadly, I did come from a family where we were forced to eat foods that we couldn't stand. My dad was a table Nazi, something I didn't fully realize until I was a young adult and he had remarried a woman with two much younger children. I watched him battle my ten year old stepbrother over his green beans, finally arriving at a negotiated truce where the boy would eat three green beans in exchange for being allowed to leave the table. I assume that he got these attitudes from his dad, and at least I can say that while I've always encouraged my son to try new things, he's never been forced to eat anything.

                                        There are emotional connotations to all of our senses, and that includes taste.

                                        Also, I love coconut milk, but you may have the better end of that, since it has ninety-gazillion calories per serving.

                                    2. re: Jay F

                                      I also don't like coconut milk when made in a curry or anything else at home. (ice cream is ok though as well as out at Thai restaurants for me)
                                      I was brought up in New England using heavy cream mixed with curry powder. A more authentic version is a bunch of spices including raw garlic and ginger thrown in a pan, browned, and mixed with whole fat plain yoghurt. I've never tasted coconut milk in Indian food actually.