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Death before broccoli!

I’m feeling a little apolitical today, so let’s talk about food for a minute.

I’m one of those people who simply will not eat certain foods. The reason for that is simple: I can’t stand the way they taste. Sometimes this is a texture thing – for example, I have no objections to celery per se, but I don’t usually care for detectably large pieces of it in most cooked foods. Most of the time, it’s taste.

I was a very picky eater as a kid, but as I grew up, I eventually tried a lot of the foods I would not have eaten, and found that I did in fact like quite a few of them. Maybe it was a maturing of my taste buds, maybe it was discovering a similar food that I liked first and then branching out, or maybe I was just a weenie as a kid, I couldn’t say. For some of these foods, it’s understandable why I’d always refused them before; for example, the first time I ate beans was while staying with a college friend in Midland. My first day there, her mom served barbecue. I didn’t want to be rude, so I tried the borracho beans, and loved them. Since my main exposure before then had been baked beans from school cafeterias, I think I could be excused for my prior distaste. You wouldn’t have liked the hot lunch beans, either.

Not all such experiences ended with me adding a new item to my personal menu. Some years back, a friend who was staying with my then-roommate Matt and me insisted on making dinner for us, which was eggplant parmesan. I tried it, even wound up eating a full serving, but didn’t much care for it, and have never eaten it since then. Tiffany (who eats just about everything and sometimes gets exasperated with my fickleness) has made me sample asparagus and artichoke, without success. I had a stronger sense of dislike for them than I did for the eggplant, but if I’d been in a position where I had no choice but to consume a portion of them – say, dinner at a consulate – I could have made myself do it.

And then there’s the stuff I really hate. Broccoli is at the top of this list – given a choice between broccoli and starvation, I’d have to think about it really hard. (Go ahead, make the Poppy Bush jokes. I’ve heard them all.) The last time I accidentally ingested a piece of broccoli was in college, when I swallowed what I thought was some celery in a bowl of chicken soup from the dining hall, and nearly gagged. The smell of broccoli is enough to get me to run screaming from the room. If I live to be 100, I will never voluntarily eat broccoli.

As I said, Tiffany is sometimes unsympathetic on such matters, as are some other friends and family who don’t have anything on their personal food-hate lists (Matt, I’m looking at you). It’s my belief that while most people can learn to like most foods, some of us are just hardwired against certain items. The sense of taste has a genetic component to it, so my response is that I did not get the broccoli-acceptance gene. That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

So. What foods will you not eat under any circumstance? How much guff do you get for it? Leave a comment and let me know.

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  1. Mathwiz says:

    What foods will you not eat under any circumstance?

    I think we’re reversed on broccoli and asparagus. I don’t particularly care for broccoli, but I can eat it if there’s nothing else. But to me, asparagus tastes like what I expect sh*t to taste like. Fuhgeddaboudit.

    Another food I generally can’t stand is squash, with a few exceptions: eggplant and zucchini are tolerable, though like broccoli I wouldn’t want to eat them if I had a choice.

    I understand bananas are technically squash, but I really don’t consider them in that category – their taste and texture are both totally different. I’m no botanist, but calling bananas “squash” makes about as much sense to me as calling tomatoes “fruit.”

    Raw spinach, as in a salad, is fine, but canned or cooked spinach makes me think I’m eating snot. Just cannot do it.

    I’m also no big fan of pickles or olives.

    How much guff do you get for it?

    My in-laws are old-fashioned “eat your vegetables” parents who simply cannot understand why anyone would refuse anything that’s supposed to be “good for you.” In addition to causing me a lot of grief, it’s caused problems for my diabetic wife, as when they cajoled her to drink more cranberry juice, which is loaded with sugar!

  2. Asparagus makes me gag when I try to eat it. Peanut butter smells so nasty to me that I gag when I smell it. Ditto peanuts.

    I get guff from my mother for asparagus. I don’t get guff from anyone about the peanut thing because I worry that I may have a mild peanut allergy, and nobody messes with even a mild peanut allergy.

  3. helliemae says:

    Well, no one who has spent more than 5 minutes with me will be shocked to hear that I both fear and loathe mayo. And also Miracle Whip. And anything they are (or even might be) in, such as ranch dressing. Even the smell makes me woozy. My sister shares the same phobia, and we can’t explain it. Mom never forced us to eat this stuff, so why do we react this way? I’ve met others with the same affliction, as well.

    I did recently learn that truly homemade mayo is an entirely different species. So, if the emulsion is made on the premises, from a real egg yolk and oil, by someone I trust, I’ll eat it. A friend who is a professionally-trained chef clued me in. And that’s how I got to have my first-ever proper BLT. It rocked.

  4. Brenda Helverson says:

    I always hated asparagus until I found the following recipe for roasted asparagus.

    Now we can’t get enough of it.

    I hate watermelon. I hate the taste and I hate the mess.

  5. Patrick says:

    This list used to be so much longer but in recent years I’ve gone back and tried some food thats I didn’t like when I was younger and lo and behold, they’re not half bad.

    Coming out of the penalty box in recent years have been cucumbers, asparagus, olives (good marinated olives only, canned olives are still nasty), and squash, which I liked breaded and deep fried all along but I’ve just discovered that grilled and sauteed aren’t bad either.

    There are some foods I still detest and mark down this day because for the first time every Mathwiz and I are in violent agreement on something…spinach. Raw spinach is fine but cooked spinach….well let’s just say the description above of being snotlike is apt IMO. Another food I can do is English peas. It’s a texture thing. And I don’t do beef liver. Not all liver is bad. Fried chicken livers and cream gravy made me the man that I am (at least 20 pounds of the man I am), pork liver is a component of boudin which I love and seared foie gras? Delightful.

  6. David says:

    I have always assumed that Peanut butter is one of those things that you have to have eaten as a child in order to like as an adult. I can’t stand the stuff, but I have managed to get used to at least putting it on bread because the children seem to like it a lot. The rest of what I won’t eat is a pretty small list — eggplant (too bitter) and rice pudding and tapioca (flashbacks to boarding school).

    My younger child is a vegetable freak, which is apparently kind of unusual. I get great looks in the grocery store when he (at 3) is insisting that we buy some broccoli for dinner this week!

  7. Patrick says:

    I forgot one – durian, the fruit that Singaporeans love. I cannot for the life of me figure out why. I had the misfortune of arriving at the peak of durian season and ate some…well, I spit most of it out. If you haven’t ever encountered durian consider yourself truly blessed.

    Wikipedia has a description from travel and food writer Richard Sterling

    “… its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away. Despite its great local popularity, the raw fruit is forbidden from some establishments such as hotels, subways and airports, including public transportation in Southeast Asia.”

    He ain’t lying. It’s that bad.