6 Comments

What WILL you eat?

The ducks in the front and chicken in the middle still have their heads attached. I couldn't really look at them until my mom cut the birds up and took the heads out of the picture.

Disclaimer: Before I begin, I would like to say that I am writing this post under duress. My friend and editor at the Northwest Asian Weekly, Stacy Nguyen, got on my case earlier about how I haven’t exactly stuck with the one-post-per-week resolution I made earlier this month. With that in mind, here is my latest post — three days past the one-week mark.

Earlier this week, I read an article about a 17-year-old girl in Britain who collapsed after literally 15 years of eating nothing but chicken nuggets — though she would occasionally throw in some chips (or crisps as they’re called across the pond) or toast. Seriously.

I just couldn’t believe it because this case takes picky eating to the extreme and I know some very picky eaters.

As a food lover, this is one of my biggest pet peeves. I get really annoyed when people refuse to step out of their comfort zone to try new things. I don’t include vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free diners or anyone who sticks to a certain diet for ethical or health reasons. I actually admire that kind of dedication because honestly, I couldn’t do it.

The people I’m talking about are those who figure out what they like to eat and stick to just that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that until you start throwing it in my face and it affects the types of foods/restaurants I can enjoy if I am with you. I’m sorry. I know that sounds selfish but that’s just how I feel.

And I’m not saying I’ll eat anything — although, growing up Asian, it’s close (squid, intestines or pork blood, anyone?). I do have my own list of won’t-touch-it foods. I do. First, I’m not a fan of cucumbers or raw bean sprouts. I also am not a fan of dining on food when the face — especially the eyes — are still attached to the rest of its body. For example, the roast ducks and steam chickens (see photo above) you can get from Chinese restaurants with the heads still attached just make me squeamish.

I'm not squeamish about sushi or raw fish, but I'll admit it's not my first choice.

This being said, I recently had an experience where I was on the other side of the equation. Meaning, the way I feel about certain foods (somewhat) dictated how a group of friends and I ordered at a restaurant. We went to Moshi Moshi, a sushi restaurant in Ballard and I’d mentioned that sushi was not my favorite food. I’m probably never going to be the person to suggest we go eat at a sushi restaurant.

This doesn’t mean I hate sushi. I’ll eat it. But I think my friends took it to mean I wouldn’t touch the stuff and were great with suggesting other dishes on the menu I could try. And while I really appreciated this, I felt really bad because I didn’t want to take away from what they wanted to get (we were eating family style).

This experience got me thinking whether the picky eaters out there feel just as bad when they realize people are going out of their way to accommodate their limited tastes for foods ABC when they’re really  craving XYZ.

If you’re a picky eater, let me know! I’m curious.

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6 comments on “What WILL you eat?

  1. Hey Sam, I totally know what you mean on both ends of that! I have a friend who won’t try a new cuisine if its a nicer restaurant. She says she doesn’t want to spend money trying something she might not like! I am the other way because I feel like going out is a good chance to try new things.

    With that said, since I am a pescatarian, I do feel like I am more often caught on the other end of the spectrum. Sometimes people think they have to take me to a seafood or sushi restaurant or whatnot because I don’t eat other meat, but I always find a way to make it work, especially in Seattle! I just feel bad when people go out of their way or cook all these things they don’t normally make because I’m coming over. I am content eating side dishes and sometimes I’ll even pick around meat (not red meat cuz I hate the smell but I can be more flexible with say, chicken) if I really want the dish or if I don’t want to offend. I know you said it doesn’t count with people of special diets, but I really try not to cause problems!

    Also, I thought you were totally chill and flexible at dinner today! We were ordering so many dishes though, it just made sense for everyone to find something they wanted.

  2. Okay, I’ll be honest – one of my biggest pet peeves is when people accuse me of being ‘too picky’. I do try new things, but at home and away from people, because I have a ridiculously twitchy gag reflex and nobody wants to see me trying to suppress it in the middle of a nice restaurant or at their family dinner table. And it’s damned embarassing on my part and doesn’t exactly give me a nice, relaxing evening out. And I don’t get why people feel like they get to make a judgement call on me preferring not to eat certain things. I’m a grown up. What I eat or do not eat is my business and has been since I hit the age of majority. I am, on the other hand, adventurous in other areas of my life. I want to try things like sky diving and bungee jumping – but I’m not going to invite someone who’s afraid of heights when I do it. Why would I deliberately choose an activity that will diminish the enjoyment for both of us? As a picky eater, I have just outright stopped going to people’s houses or out for dinner (unless I know where we’re going first). They get insulted, but they get insulted when I go, too, if I don’t touch something I know is likely to make me get started. Maybe you have friends whose feelings are easily hurt, but let me tell you – if my friends *tell* me “we’d like to try x restaurant but we know it’s probably not your taste so if you want to go please do tag along but if not just know we didn’t exclude you on purpose,” I am going to tell them to have fun. Yes, go and enjoy it! And when you’re ready to hit a nice, safe family restaurant, I’ll tag along with you. And when you’re ready to try skydiving, I’ll be there for that, too.

    I’m sorry to sound ranty, but I’ve spent a good majority of my adult life listening to people act like I’m a huge jerk because I don’t eat pizza or won’t touch bananas or whatever I happen to *politely* turn down because I don’t happen to like it. I pay for and/or make my own meals, I think it’s less than a crime that I choose to stick to simple dishes. Getting treated like a social pariah because I don’t like things other people like makes me really really grouchy.

  3. You’re getting a lot of interesting comments on this post! Awesome! I think you inadvertently (or advertently?) touched on a bit of a sore spot in everyone.

    I think as a Vietnamese, (and I imagine the same for you as a Cambodian) the picky eaters aren’t bad until the moment they start pushing negativity against you for the things you eat. So that’s possibly where a lot of ill feelings begin. Like when someone who eats only chicken nuggets or only meatloaf and will see some dish that your mom makes with some uncommon ingredients and they’re like, “That’s gross. How can you eat that?” And it’s like, “My mom made this and my whole family eats this, asshole.” So that’s when picky eaters rub me the wrong way.

    You’re not bad to eat with at all though! I got the sense that you were up for eating all kinds of sushi, but just preferred variety because it’s not your favorite.

    • So basically, if you’re not a picky eater you risk picky assholes telling you that you eat gross stuff, and if you are a picky eater, you risk non-picky assholes telling you that you don’t eat *enough* gross stuff! As the great Eddie Izzard once said – weird transvestites don’t do weird things because they’re transvestites, they do it because they’re fuckin’ WEIRD. For my own part, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever commented on someone else’s food. I mean, I ask questions pretty constantly – I like to know what’s in food, and as a picky eater it certainly helps me judge what the chances are of my wanting to try it (ie some things smell AMAZING but as soon as I hear the spice list or the amount of peppers in it I know it’d send my ridiculously touchy stomach into fits within the hour) – not to mention, as someone relatively new to home cooking, it sometimes gives me a good idea as to what might improve a dish I’m making on my own. I grew up with a mother who eats plainer food than I do, doesn’t like ANY flavor on her food beyond salt and pepper, and cooks meat to DEATH just in case it might be lying in wait waiting to kill her. So if I know something has six spicy ingredients in it, I might pull one of those and try it at home, altering and rotating until I find something less spicy but that tastes like that original, tantalizing smell!

      Er… actually I do remember one time I might have been rude, in that I once knew a co-worker who liked to bring balut in for lunch. The first time she showed it to me and described what it was, I discovered what it’s like when your brain has a heart attack. I tried to keep a straight face, but that might have made it worse. On the other hand I suspect to this day she was getting a kick out of giving me a full, in-depth description, because she knew I was a picky eater. I don’t fault her for that one. I’d have done it to me, too.

      • I think what you and Stacy are getting at is that people just need to be respectful of each other — both the picky eaters and the more…I guess you can say adventurous ones.

        We just need to acknowledge people have different tastes than we do and that may clash, but it doesn’t mean we should rub our dining preferences in each others’ faces.

        Although, messing around with each other is fine as long as it’s all in good fun rather than to gross the other person out or to make them sick. That’s just plain mean.

      • Yes, you are absolutely right! Both to the “be more respectful” and the “messing around” bit – I think my original response came off as a bit snarly, and I was trying hard *not* to. My *friends* are allowed to tease me as much as they want, and I’ll tease them right back. When acquaintances start dictating what I *should* be putting in my mouth – or even worse, complete strangers – then I start to turn into a less picky person (ie “shut up or I will bite your head off and swallow it whole” :P)

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