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What are your strangest food habits?

We all get weird stares and inquiry from friends and family now and then for what might be considered “abnormal” food choices and behaviors—depending on where you’re from. What food choices or behaviors do you constantly have to justify to others? Have you ever “converted” anyone to these choices and behaviors?

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  1. We don't know many other non-Chinese people who love chicken feet! No one actually criticizes nor do we try to convert. Even the Chinese people (staff and customers) in dim sum places are pretty amazed.

    Also tripe. Seems like there's real irrational dislike of the stuff.

    7 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      I got amazement in a Korean restaurant recently for ordering the bitter melon. I love the stuff.

      I've found that after years in Asia, and being pretty adventurous to begin with, I do have to re-calibrate when I'm out with Westerners (or visiting home). Things I now consider normal and delicious - organ meats, tofu, seaweed, chicken feet/testicles/hearts/cartilige, stewed beef tendons, pigs feet, whole fish, fermented soy products - are considered weird or nasty when I go back.

      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

        We love most of the things you've mentioned. If I don't love it it may be because I haven't tried it :)

      2. re: c oliver

        I practically had to throw myself into the path of an oncoming stewed-tripe cart once to make the woman stop. She grinned when I made her understand that I wanted some, and grinned even wider when I nodded at the hot chile oil. If we're out with our Food Posse it's different, though, because one of the regulars is Chinese and handles most of the ordering.

        I remember however growing up in smalltown downstate Illinois 60-some years ago and having my buddies make fun of the fat natural-casing garlic wieners I was roasting, or sneering at my fondness for Campbell's Pepper Pot. My folks weren't particularly sophisticated about food, but they were fairly adventurous, thanks partly to my mom's father's influence.

          1. re: c oliver

            Let me add tongue to the "irrationally disliked" list. Every time I buy it at the large supermarket, people (non-Hispanic) will comment and not in a good way.

            1. re: tcamp

              I first 'discovered' tongue in the late 70s in SF. A deli served tongue sandwiches. Like corned beef or pastrami but tongue. Got the "taste for it" right then.

            2. re: c oliver

              Having ice in my street tea in Jakarta. I've lost so much weight forgetting what a bad idea it was...

            3. I like to order my pho with raw meat. My local pho place will serve it this way. The meat comes in a little dish on the side and you add it to the soup. I don't think it's strange, but some people might think it's gross or dangerous to eat. I never got sick from it, and I love the taste and texture of just barely cooked meat in the broth.

              1 Reply
              1. re: 4X4

                The only way I've had pho is when the broth is poured over the raw meat. But I don't think it would be weird at all to have it on the side.

              2. Three things I consume pretty often are menudo, tongue, and savory oatmeal, not shocking to most CHers. Coworkers and friends mostly think these are the weirdest, most disgusting items known to mankind.

                3 Replies
                1. re: tcamp

                  You just brough up the one I was going to! Back when I was a kid, the fact that I like unsweetened oatmeal with American Cheese melted in it caused a lot of people to think I was insane (especially the one time at camp when I did it, since that was the one time the issue came up when I wasn't at home.) I never really saw what the big deal is. I mean, unsweetened oatmeal is basically nutritionally mushy bread, so it's really no different from toast. And no one thinks eating cheese at breakfast is all that odd. So why is mixing the two weird.
                  I actually have another from my childhood. When they are kids, some people like peanut butter and jelly sandwitches and some like cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. I liked peanut butter and cream cheese sandwiches.

                  1. re: jumpingmonk

                    That's funny! I was waiting for someone to bring up the "traditional American childhood foods" like pb and j! I was too embarrassed to admit I would eat my macaroni and cheese with barbeque sauce....after hearing some of the more interesting responses to my question!

                    1. re: 10kweaver

                      You shoudl see some of the stuff I eat NOW for breakfast. One dish I make from time to time I simply call "The stuff" (no connection to the movie about the addictive zombie-making goo sold like ice cream.) It's a mixture of cold instant couscous, greek yougurt, chopped scallions, olive oil, lemon juice (or when I can get it, fresh key lime juice) garlic, italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Takes a while to get used to, but quite sustaining, unless your stomach has other ideas.

                2. I didn't think I had any "abnormal" food behaviors/choices, but since y'all brought up offal, I guess maybe I do. I have one really close friend with whom I lived right after college who still tells the story about that time I offered him a fish head. Apparently he didn't get that it was a sign of respect that he got first dibs on the eyes.

                  1. Growing up an ItaIian American kid in the 60s, I got a lot of weird reactions from friends to the things we ate: escarole and beans, pepper and egg sandwiches, polenta, roasted pepper and mozzarella sanwiches, pasta and peas, pasta fagioli, etc., etc., etc. Of course today, people pay top dollar for some of these dishes in better restaurants.

                    Today, my friends and family members are educated enough not to turn up their noses at many things I eat like headcheese, tongue, beef heart, etc. They may not like it, but they understand that I like it. The only thing I can think of that I like and that people find odd is a good cold glass of milk with ice, usually after a nice piece of cake.

                    1. Posting on Chowhound, I think. I have converted many to lurk, but none to post (that I know of).

                      1. I have a tendency to eat my foods one at a time, but only if it's "pile" food. (e.g. pile of rice, pile of peas, etc.) Also, if there a liquid component to the dish, I don't like for it to touch other foods. However, that quirk does not apply to creamy sauces. I know, I know . . . a bit odd, no?

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: sheilal

                          Yep, that whole food not touching thing has always struck me as, well, strange :) It really does all get mixed up together in your belly. I love to assemble a few different goodies on one fork.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Yeah, I know that it ends up in the stomach all mushed together, but the tummy doesn't have taste buds. :) Like all chowhounds, I savor each bite. I live to eat, not eat to live. Therefore, I don't want to muddle or adulterate the intended flavors of any dish. If I wanted collard greens juice in my mashed potatoes, I would have added it during the cooking process. That being said, I don't go to obsessive means to segregate the dishes.

                            1. re: sheilal

                              I was just teasing you, I hope you know :) Most things I don't care about touching but, yeah, sometimes I don't want the collard juice running into my something or other :)

                              1. re: sheilal

                                I actually eat sandwiches in their separate components. I will always order or make myself a sandwich whole but I usually pick it apart afterwards! I have no idea why because I haven't always done that!

                          2. Here's a previous thread with some interesting habits http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/582096

                            1. Using separate spoons, knives, etc. when it comes to spooning jam, sugar, butter, nut butters, etc. etc. And for that matter for cutting different cakes and pies, serving different stews, casseroles, etc.

                              At a certain level, I appreciate why some people detest the additional effort involved, but I just can't grasp how it can be that people really find contamination not a problem. My feeling on that has always been - if that's how you feel, why bother in the first place to have or make something at all with a pure flavour? Instead of strawberry jam, why not have a jar that contains jam and butter, pre-mixed? Etc. etc. Really this is one I just don't understand - to say nothing indeed, of potential food safety issues which could be severe.

                              And along similar lines, requesting at ice-cream shops, where the different flavours are in open tubs, that they ensure that no speck of an adjacent flavour be scooped onto/into the ice cream that I'm having. One time I can remember, in fact, I just couldn't convey to the lady with any amount of explanation what I was that I wanted. She kept on thinking I was asking for the same flavour and changing my mind, or asking for 2 different flavours - but the idea that I was asking for the same flavour every time but also requesting that it NOT be laced with traces of some other flavour just didn't register.

                              Asking for baked potatoes, peas and sandwiches without butter. I'm one of those few people, I suppose, for whom butter is something I can take or leave, and in the case of the aforementioned items, would much rather leave.

                              Asking to pay first for an espresso, *before* they put the order in at the bar. This is standard practice in Italy, should be standard everywhere in my opinion. (the Spanish system also works: order first, pay AFTER drinking) The half-life of an espresso is on the order of 10 seconds. Indeed, expedition is critical with espresso - sugar should be immediately to hand, spoons likewise, etc. etc.