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Household food battles: Foods you love but your loved ones hate (and what to do about it!)

I've been wanting to add more diversity to my cooking when it comes to cooking for my boyfriend. However, there are certain foods I know he is just not ever going to like. For instance, I would love to cook more Asian flavors BUT...he just doesn't like Ginger.

Also on the list are Onions and Cucumbers.

What foods become battlegrounds in your household and how do you work around them/ sneak them into the rotation?

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  1. My food battle still isnt figured out. I love Pate, she cant stand it. I love ham, and she wont go near it. I guess I will just have to eat my own food sometimes, and cook her something different.

    1. Are you the one cooking? Or do you share that task?

      10 Replies
      1. re: wattacetti

        I'm the one cooking. The only times he's "cooked" for me that I can remember have been on days I'm sick or work has been too long. And then cooking is defined by scrambled eggs or heating up a can of soup. I love it, so i'm happy with the arrangement for the most part (unless he slacks on dishes :))

        A lot of these foods aren't a huge issue, but looking towards the cold fall/winter nights ahead, I wish i could spice up a chicken soup, etc.

        1. re: julseydesign

          Really easy, make the basic soup and then add the spices to your portion. I do that all the time for soups. And a side cucumber/onion salad when you crave it?
          After 17 years, I've learned how to be pretty creative with the least amount of extra work.

          1. re: julseydesign

            I asked who's cooking because if it's shared, then you can make things you like on the days you cook and vice versa. If it isn't then he really doesn't have a lot to complain about, does he?

            Anyway, Asian flavoring isn't just ginger, which is also found in Western cuisine. You can use a lot of the other aromatics alongside (e.g. cinnamon, star anise, clove, kaffir leaf) to mute the ginger or make an experiment with galangal, which is ginger-like but isn't ginger.

            Is there any asian cuisine that he does like?

            I do know someone who says he hates onions, but he only complains if he sees the onion. I've slipped onion into a lot of food I've served and there have never been any complaints. Caramelization does wonders, as does grating and juicing.

            Cucumbers… ever tried cooking them? Or mixing them with complementary flavors (e.g. melon) or contrasting flavors (e.g. jamón)? Does he eat pickles?

            1. re: wattacetti

              He loves pickled/vinegary things, but is specific about the pickles that he likes. He doesnt refuse to eat cucumbers, but hes doesnt much like them unless they are covered in salt and vinegar. I've never tried cooking them, though. Do you have any recommended recipes?

              He has eaten a lot of asian food and simply doesnt like any of those flavors or combinations. He would never order thai food with me, for instance.

              He will eat sushi by the bushel. and Lo Mein.

              I can most definitely cook with onion as a flavoring in things like sauces and likes them caramelized. Thats not an issue, its only if i wanted to use caramelized onions as an actual ingredient. (I also hate raw onion so we agree on that one!)

              1. re: julseydesign

                Just seed the cukes, slice and butter poach, awesome!

              2. re: wattacetti

                <<I do know someone who says he hates onions, but he only complains if he sees the onion. I've slipped onion into a lot of food I've served and there have never been any complaints. Caramelization does wonders, as does grating and juicing.>>

                When I was a kid, I used to say I hated onions. But my father discovered that what I actually don't like are *raw* onions. I don't like the taste and I especially don't like the texture. But when they are cooked so that there's absolutely no crunch, what's not to like about onions?

                1. re: Jay F

                  My father also claims to hate onions. He lived on a kibbutz in Israel in the '70's and worked the onion harvest, burned his clothes when he left the kibbutz, so I've gotten very good at hiding the onions. He loves the flavor, but if he can see them (except for in French Onion soup), he won't eat it.

                  1. re: Jay F

                    I used to say I hated onions before I learned that if you just sweated them in oil or butter first, they were fine. Caramelized onions are over the top delicious. But I hate them raw and crunchy, and please don't just boil chopped onions in a soup without sweating them first. Huge difference in flavor!

                    1. re: Isolda

                      I do know someone who says he hates onions, but he only complains if he sees the onion. I've slipped onion into a lot of food I've served and there have never been any complaints. Caramelization does wonders, as does grating and juicing.


                      I was a former onion hater who grew out of it in her late 20s. For me, it wasn't the taste, it was the texture of onions, both raw and cooked.

                    2. re: Jay F

                      Yeah, seen that with a LOT of people. SIL and I had both tried to cater to elderly in-laws. SIL went so far as to make two casseroles, one with onions and one without, Great-grandma gobbled the cooked onion casserole down and when questioned by SIL said she could eat "a little onion". At another family gathering with the old folks, I made pasta with thre usual red sauce and meatballs, and although I made enough for 30 people, I ran out. Great Grandma ate seconds and asked for thirds. Unfotunately we were out of spaghetti. I would't have thought that a woman in her late 80s could chow down like that.

              3. I wont eat cheese, fish or eggs. And most vegetables. Of course my wife loves Cheese fish and eggs. And vegetables. Fortunately I travel alot........
                When I am home, we tend to cook on the grill alot; it solves the making two dishes issue without extra cleaning required.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      I am a big fan of the KISS method. And in this situation it works for us. He knows that if he wants something that I refuse to buy (cheez wiz, triscuits, wheat thins) to buy it himself. It helps that he walks past 2 grocery stores everyday. He isn't a picky eater and we tend to share the same dislikes (canned tuna), so I don't really serve him stuff that he won't eat (except for hard boiled eggs and celery).

                    2. It might help you to figure out what exactly about those foods he doesn't like. My fiance kept saying he didn't like kalamata olives, so I left them out of dinner or added separately to just my portion at the end. One day I brought home kalamata olive bread and he loved it, said it tasted completely different than the kalamata olives he had before. When he described the ones he had, they were definitely just rotten olives. This could potentially be the case for cucumbers (rubbery ones). Also, if he doesn't like ginger because he finds it too strong, you could try using powdered ginger.

                      Generally, we each just compromise and eat things we don't like from time to time. Also, if something he doesn't like can be left on the side or replaced with something similar (would he eat leeks?), I do that.

                      1. I taught Mr. Sueatmo to eat differently than he did before. He still doesn't like some flavors or some foods, but I kept putting different things on the table, and since he doesn't cook, he had to eat them. I don't know how to cook without onions, but if you can mince them fine and sneak them into a dish, that might work. If he doesn't like Asian flavors, find other flavors he does like and riff on them. Eventually he'll come round to different tastes. But if this is a regular battleground, and he absolutely refuses to try anything with minced onion, and refuses to eat more ethnic flavors, and if this is really important to you, then it might be that you will be fighting over this continually.


                        1. I love olives and blue cheeses and would cook almost any dish that has one of them in it. He doesn't like either. He, however, loves egg salad and a few eastern European family dishes that I haven't warmed to. It's always a trade off.

                          1. firstly, the onions thing... made me laugh. my grandfather didn't like them and wouldn't eat them. *his* father (crazy whackadoodle) wouldn't enter a house with onions! i don't know exactly how that worked or how he knew, but the thought of him standing outside bearing down, "it's me or the onions" puts me in stitches.

                            i've dated people with allergies to things i've loved... it's really difficult. and in theory, those could have been things i chose to indulge in when at a restaurant, it stunk because sometimes i'd rather cook em myself!

                            unfortunately, i can relate to your boy's detestation of ginger. i can taste it in minute amounts. however, i will say, that i can tolerate it in a few preparations where it is intended in the complementary mix of flavors that somehow meld and mask it. if i make these kind of recipes, like tikka masala, i will cut back on the ginger, significantly. you might try this and see if you can ease him in, so to speak...

                            good luck!

                            1. My problem is my mother, who lives with us. She is the pickiest eater I've ever encountered. She won't eat: rice or any other grain-based food (including bulgur wheat, coucous, etc.), cheese unless it's processed american, most vegetables, meat other than beef (WELL DONE) and pork, most seafood, anything ethnic except for tacos, and much, much more. At this point, she is welcome to go get herself her favorite fast food, Rally's, if she doesn't want to eat what we eat. I put the effort in and I can't please her, so I don't try and I'm not a short order cook. The only concession I make is to nuke a baked potato for her when we're having a grain side. Amazingly enough, she brags to friends and acquaintances that I'm a fabulous cook. I wonder how she really knows because she'll only eat my "meat and potatoes" meals. <sigh>

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: velochic

                                I think you've got the right idea. If you can't please her, let her go get her own meal, or have stuff in the fridge and pantry she can have. Maybe she could shop for "her" stuff. Her tastes in food are probably set in stone. It is too bad the the picky eaters of the world can't step back and see the sort of wet blankets and demanding souls they really are. I'm NOT referring to people who are gluten intolerant, or who are allergic or have sensitivities to carbs. But, in my observation, there are people who use food as a play for some sort of feeling of power. My sympathies are with you, but I think you are on the right track.

                                1. re: velochic

                                  What did she feed you growing up? And how did you manage to have such a varied palate?

                                  1. re: velochic

                                    Since couscous is pasta dies she not eat any pasta?

                                  2. Do you know what kind of ginger he dislikes?

                                    I ask because my Nan (who is english) claims to hate ginger, but she has eaten fresh ginger loads of times at our house because it's in practically everything I cook, especially dal which she likes a lot. I had been feeding her it before she claimed not to like it and wasn't quite sure waht to say. So one day we decided to gently quiz her on this (without revealing she's been eating ginger all along) and it turns out that she didn't like candied ginger or baked goods made with dry ginger (such as ginger nuts or ginger bread). She was not familiar with fresh ginger and so didn't realise it tasted different and that she didn't mind it!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Muchlove

                                      Same thing with my mom and coconut. She detests coconut but then would rave about certain curries at a local Thai restaurant we visit. She could not believe it when pointed to "coconut milk" on the description of her favorite dish. To her, sweetened coconut flakes was all things coconut.

                                    2. Growing up I had issues with the texture of tomatoes and onions. Didn't mind the taste, but biting into a chunk of one in say spaghetti sauce would make me gag. Mom would usually pull me out a portion of the sauce or sloppy joes or what have you before she added the onions in, and then use onion powder in mine. Otherwise.... I got to make myself a pb&j.

                                      1. One way I solve this is that when he is traveling, I make whatever I love and he hates, No problem. Other than that, I have been known to make two different dinners as long as it's not a long involved process, it's not that big of a deal. I do however, tend to just make the stuff I love when he travels

                                        1. Easy question: broccoli battles. Years ago, the poor broccoli got no love in my family menus and there was a time when my husband tried to ban broccoli altogether. I love the stuff and it loves me back! But the rest of my family equated the green tree like stuff to stinky sneakers.

                                          So one year, I lined all the boys (old and young) sneakers in the hallway while I roasted a whole head of broccoli in spicy curry sauce and held a "what smells better poll"....the broccoli won...and has sinced played a delicious role in many of our family dishes. Today, my daughter will eat cold broccoli florets with a seasame oil drizzle for breakfast.

                                          Score one for Mom.

                                          btw julseyd, ginger is one of my all time favorite flavors and if fresh ginger was banned from my kitchen I wouldn't be worth living with. Some battles just can't be fought. :)

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            I love this, Hill, both the comparison and the idea of roasting in curry sauce. can you give some guidance on how to do that, please?

                                            1. re: magiesmom

                                              hi magiesmom, my pleasure on the broccoli curry. This is the delicious recipe I follow:

                                              If you follow the recipe to the letter (& it's worth doing) you might need to visit an Indian spice shop or Indian grocer...but I hope you'll give this one a try.

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                HillJ, thank you so much. this sounds wonderful and I have almost all the ingredients.

                                          2. Five options.

                                            a) eat it when they're not around.
                                            b) make food that can be served two ways at the same time. (eg. cook up the chicken and put theirs on their plate, then sauce yours up as desired.)
                                            c) give up eating it yourself and learn to love the foods that you can share.
                                            d) try them on a 'baby steps' version of the dish and see if you can wean them onto the new flavours that way... (but this often doesn't work!)
                                            and e) give up the battle and eat it when you go out.

                                            John HATES curry with a vengeance and after trying to get him to eat really mild ones, I've given up the fight. Sometimes its not worth the battle...

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Kajikit

                                              You never know. I was in the gulf with my sister this summer. She's much more sophisticated than I am both in her palate and experiences. The first night out we ordered some cooked oysters. She ate a few. The second night I went raw (for the first time) and she was horrified. I ate two and loved them. She looked at me like I just grew a 2nd head. My point being.... I'm known as the picky eater in the family.... but you never know til you try it. (by the way. I hate olives!)

                                            2. Living with a Frenchman poses it's challenges. Really. He is very biased when it comes to food. Let me just say that I've really, really learned to master French cooking--and he won't even eat what he deems "peasant" french food like my beloved cassoulet (Tolouse style, naturally). Although we do share most of our tastes, he really cannot stand some of the stuff that I love--(omitting my love for the now defunct Franco-American canned Macaroni and Cheese). He hates pasta. Hates it. I don't pay any attention, I just make pasta for me. Couscous for him. He hates soup. During the winter, I crave soup. On weekends I'll whip up a giant pot of any soup that pops into mind. I'll eat it during the week, and I'll make his food separately. I love fish! He does not like fish at all--or so he claims, because every time I make it, he ends up finishing what I don't. He hates vegetables. I don't pay any attention to that because we have veg. at every meal. I do all the cooking--but I really don't mind cooking separate meals. OTOH, I'm not a big fan of pork, but tonight I'll make him some pork chops and couscous. I'm feeling a little "blah" today, so I'll be looking forward to some comforting oatmeal (which he also despises)!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: jarona

                                                I feel your pain: Mr Pine detests pasta, too, and it's one of my favorite foods. Mind you, I'm used to making separate dishes for us (he likes fish, I don't; plus I was vegetarian for 25 years and he wasn't, so I made meat for him). He also dislikes couscous (what's to dislike?), so that's not an option if I make myself pasta. Sigh.

                                              2. My husband doesn't care for fried pork chops, brussel sprouts, and tater tot casserole. He also doesn't care for shrimp and crab. I make them all when he goes on business trips. :)

                                                I would ask your BF what it is about those items that he doesn't like. My hubby, when we first got married, told me he didn't like peanut butter or beer. Turns out, he had just tried really poor quality versions of both. Provided there's no allergy involved, you could also try to introduce those items in very small quantities and not tell him until after he eats the dish.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: boogiebaby

                                                  A few people have mentioned trying to ask him about it. While I dont think he has a clear answer on it, over the 8 years of our relationship, I've convinced him of a few veggies and fish and some other stuff, but there are a few things that I think he'll never like.

                                                  Its not a big deal in general, but I would prefer everyone to be satisfied with the meal if possible. He's not offended by them, but he'll know they're there and he wont enjoy it as much. Its not the end of the world.

                                                2. Salmon, olives, anchovies (any dried, canned, or smoked fish really). :(

                                                  1. no battles here, I have no qualms about cooking stuff I like that he doesn't and vice versa. The other one makes what they want. We don't this all the time but why should anyone give up a favorite just because someone else doesn't like it.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: rasputina

                                                      This sounds like our house. My husband has a broader palate than I do, so on some nights, he makes things he knows I don't really appreciate, and I'll just whip up an egg and eat it with whatever part of the meal works for me. It's an occasional thing b/c we share a lot of common ground, but no need to give something up just b/c others don't like it.
                                                      We're also prone to making what the other doesn't appreciate on nights when the latter is working late/out of town, and just sharing it with the kid (who seems to be developing the broadest palate of all three of us!).

                                                    2. My husband does not like fin-fish (will eat shellfish), asparagus, or any type of curry. Lunch is when I get my Indian or Thai fixes and when we dine out, I very often get the fish.

                                                      1. I loathe lima beans…. But I love my husband MORE than I hate lima beans, so I will buy them in season and cook those vile little things up for him, so that he can enjoy.
                                                        He “hates” zucchini… I LOVE it! it’s a side dish, so I make it for me and my daughter who shares my zucchini love and he gets something from the freezer stash.

                                                        He is not a big fan of soup… (except split pea and/or lentil) I make soup in smaller batches and take it to work to eat for lunch… those days he gets a wrap or leftovers from last night’s dinner.

                                                        Really, no battles here

                                                        1. Mustard in any way shape or form. I love it, the wife and kid don't.

                                                          1. I tend to "hide" ingredients when I cook meals for my parents. For example, my dad doesn't like onions, so I just chop them up smaller. They haven't complained yet, but then again I'm 14 so they could be protecting my feelings. I doubt that though ;P
                                                            As far as baking, my mom hates muffins, but she is in the minority, so i'll make them for myself and just freeze leftovers.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Laurenjo28

                                                              Lauren, my Nan swore she hated basil in any form. she'd say that it would "gag a maggot" LOL, my mother would hide the cans of tomato with basil and fish out the leaves when making sauce, for my Nan, and my Nan absolutely LOVED my mother's tomato sauce, so I'm sure that they really do like your cooking! (and I'm so impressed that a 14 year old cooks for her parents... I'd love my daughter to take a page from your book!)

                                                            2. you need lots of patience and a little stealth. Start small like you would for getting a toddler to eat more veggies. Also, try to determine if they don't like these things for "real" reasons, such as they honestly don't like the taste or texture. Find ways to introduce them that changes those qualities. Or is the reason they won't try somethng "mental"....meaning they've never tried it but are convinced they won't like it. In those cases, find ways to make it more appealing, and ease your way into it. My wife would never eat seafood, and would complain about the smell even if I was only making it for myself. First I got her to try a bite of mine in restaurants. Lobster, shrimp, mild white fishes, etc. Then I started at home using sauces to cover the fish. Creamy, cheesey sauces made it less "fish-like".....now I've got her eating more oily fishes like salmon, and even rare Ahi tuna. Aversion to heat? This is where stealth comes in.....I've been slowly and carefully sneaking more "heat" into our favorite dishes for years. Sometimes I'll go too far and get caught or make it too hot, but over the years, I've gotten her from "no spice" to at least medium, so it's a little easier to create meals we both enjoy. Also, you may need to think about ways you can finish your meal at the table to avoid problems. Like, I can always add hot sauce to my dish at the table, or keep some olives off to the side to add after I've plated. Overall, come up with a plan for what you want your loved one to adapt to, and have some fun spending the next few years working your way into it. Now that my wife has come around on some many things, we like to laugh about it. I tried to serve her a mushroom and blue cheese sauce on our first dinner date, which she told me she didn't eat.....no we make it only for special occasions, and it's one of her all time favorites.

                                                              1. Since I do nearly all the cooking, it's usually a question of something I like and want to make that my husband doesn't care for. Generally I make it as a side dish and he ends up trying it and eventually liking it, without pressure from me. See: broccoli, asparagus, and now roasted brussels sprouts. Sometimes it doesn't really grow on him: eggplant. And sometimes it's more trouble than it's worth and I don't cook it just for myself: cabbage, mushrooms, okra.

                                                                I don't particularly care for pancakes OR maple syrup as a rule, but sometimes he makes pancakes as a kind of Special Thing, and I find that under those circumstances, they're pretty good, especially with real organic maple syrup - I always thought I hated maple syrup until I actually had real maple syrup and not weird sugar water options.

                                                                Occasionally there's something he really likes and that I consider too much trouble for me to cook because I don't like it that much. This includes pancakes (see above) and his mother's meatballs, although I'll relent and make them once in a loooong while for special.

                                                                1. I knew this thread had to exist! Searched for it after posting in the "anchovy or not" thread -- I'm a "yes" and my partner is a "no."

                                                                  Luckily, there aren't too many foods we disagree on but a big one is runny eggs! I love soft yolks and could put an oozing poached egg on almost anything but he has to have his fully cooked. For some reason, he also has a high aversion to smoked salt (??) and can't stand the smell when I sprinkle some on my own dinner.

                                                                  Also, he can't do natto -- but that one, I can understand :)

                                                                  1. Sardines. They weren't a battleground until one day I was enjoying sardines and somehow the chihuahua's ended up with sardine breath. ;-)

                                                                    1. Seafood. My boyfriend doesn't like any seafood at all, and I love it! He'll try anything once, but i think his tastes are pretty set in stone. I have salmon with my family sometimes; once, I convinced him to try it, but he didn't care for it. I have no idea how anyone could dislike salmon, but he did.

                                                                      We cook together -- cooking is a pretty big part of our relationship -- so I can't use the "I made it, eat it or get your own" line. I'll have to save the seafood for when I'm out or he's away. He's going on a business trip the week after next, so I'll chow down on seafood while he's gone!

                                                                      1. Chicken livers. I love them with a deep and abiding love and my partner hated them with a passion equally binding - not just an "ick" dislike, but a true gagging fest dislike. The only solution was to establish a free zone, times when I knew for sure that I'd have 20 minutes to prep and cook 'em, eat 'em, and then have at least an hour to fully air the house out. He hated them that much; I loved 'em that much, and we made it work. :)