Food Therapy

At a pizza parlor tonight with five playwrights and one playwriting teacher, the topic came up of what we wanted on our pizza.

“I like everything,” said our teacher. “Just not anchovies.”

“Why don’t you like anchovies?” I asked.

“I dunno,” she said. “They’re just slimy and gross. I don’t like to look at them.”

“Do you like Caesar salad?” I pressed.

“Yes. As long as there are no anchovies laid across the top.”

“But you know there are anchovies in the dressing?”

“That’s fine,” she said. “I just don’t want to see them.”

A moment passed. Then I said: “You have trouble facing reality; you live in a world of lies and deception.”

Everyone laughed. It was then that I realized: I have a gift. I can analyze a person’s psyche based on the way he or she interacts with food. I am a food therapist and I am here for you. Share with us–in the comments–your food phobias, fetishes and other strange feelings regarding food and I will (potentially) analyze you in future episodes. Just think of me as the love child of Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Chef Boyardee. I’m mmm mmm therapeutic!

82 comments

  1. Good idea! I’ve wondered about this before.

    I’ve always been a little grossed out by fruit — how it gets mushy, slimy, brown, how you can take a bite of a seemingly good apple and find a disgusting bruise or (gasp) some kind of insect right where you just put your mouth. I’m trying to get over it in order to be healthy, but fruit still makes me feel a little weird. does anyone else get this feeling or am I alone in my food paranoia?

  2. Hmmmm…well, I can’t stand bananas at all – the smell, the texture, the taste, BUT I love banana bread. Don’t know what that’s about.

  3. i just dont like biscuit or cookies…just dont like it when they are dry. Dont mind if i dip them into coffee or hot choc…so, what am i ? i go for food therapy too…..when in bad mood…eat more , chuckle…..

  4. I can’t stand the smell of Clementines. I actually have to leave the room when someone starts peeling them. However, I don’t mind the smell of a Dorian.

  5. please riddle me this (it happened just last night). i opened a jar of apricot sauce that i bought at trader joe’s (because where else can you find pure apricot sauce?) it smelled slightly weird and the first bite tasted like the physical feeling of scooping the inards out of a pumpkin with your hands! thready. and it smelled a bit like pumpkin too. or maybe my mind made the connection and it didn’t actually smell like pumpkin. i was having some sort of cross-sensory experience. amateur gourmet, do you know why?

  6. I have a habbit of starting to pick at the side orders first, then i start eating the entree. Like, with a burger first i’ll eat the fries, then the pickle, then the burger.

  7. I absolutely cannot stomach a Mexican dessert called Arroz con Leche (fancy name for “Rice Pudding”). I like rice. I like cinnamon. But the slimy goo that results from putting them together is vile and nasty.

    Also, I refuse to eat any sortof bird skin, though my husband keeps insisting that the skin on fried chicken is the best part. Gross. I’ve seen where chickens live.

    And I won’t eat papaya. Papaya is what evil tastes like.

    That is all.

  8. Onions. Cannot handle them in their slimy or crunchy glory. I can, however, eat onion rings, but if the onion comes out of the fried shell, I have to stop. Ugh. I feel like gagging thinking about it.

    I also have a weird quirk where I have to end my meal on the perfect bite. if a grilled cheese, that perfect cripsy corner with cheese running off. Fish, that piece piled with goodness.

  9. I have weird texture issues. I don’t like tofu at all, or bananas (although I love bananas in smoothies and banana popsicles!), or tapioca. I’m getting better with couscous. I love pickles, but I HATE it when your teeth squeaks on them. I don’t like squeaky food at all. It’s freaking me out just thinking about it!

  10. I eat everything, except French toast, taco salad, and papaya, all of which I hate with a burning passion. Do you think it’s about my mother?

  11. For me it’s all about the texture. I can’t eat things that aren’t firm enough. I hate cooked fruit, including apple pies. I don’t like mushrooms, because they’re all squishy. I hate over boiled vegetables. I don’t like most fruit, especially after it’s started to age and loose firmness.

    Yet I eat escargots, which have got to be the least firm food ever. Go figure.

  12. (as a side note, this entry is showing up weirdly on my computer.)

    I cannot stand uncrisp apples, hard oranges, unripe bananas and papaya.

    Or anything that’s mushy. That’s just wrong.

  13. I HATE escargots, but…I love oysters.

    I can`t stand cilantro and I hate your cinamon gum!! You American guys eat too many cinamon flavoured stuff !! =)

  14. I love to eat cherries (specifically the little maraschino ones in the jar, like you get dropped in your mixed beverage) but I cannot stand anything that is artificially cherry-flavored (like cherry starburst, cherry lollies, or cherry kool-aid).

    :-D

  15. If there’s shrimp on the menu, I will ALWAYS order it… but almost never enjoy it. I don’t know why.

  16. hi hi! thanks for your phoodie psychoanalysis!

    1. i love to eat and i eat absolutely everything. it’s hard to think of anything i dislike, except… well… raw cucumbers (the waterier the worse) and eggplant (except eggplant disguised parmesan).

    2. i adore hot + spicy things to the point where i can’t get enough of it. bring it on! i’m half hunanese (hottie) and half shanghainese (blandie)!

    3. i love crunchy bits. however, i also tend to go for the burned, the charcoaled, the ridiculously blackened. crispy central!

    [spread me on a cracker] christine :)

  17. I’m not picky when it comes to good food – I’ll eat anything…except lima beans. They disgust me and I don’t know why.

  18. Anchovies are one of those secret ingredients that can help bring out the flavor of dishes if you mince them very finely. The problem is that since I’m not a fan, I don’t want to buy a large package of them. Why oh why can’t you buy 2 anchovies? Eh, oh well. In the end, it’s worth it for the flavor.

  19. I don’t do cold ketchup. Actually I don’t mix temperatures. No hot things on cold, no cold things on hot. Yes, this includes hot fudge on ice cream. Ick.

    Oh, wait, I do like pie a’la mode. But that’s it.

  20. Oh, darlin’, I don’t need you to tell what’s wrong with me based on my food choices. I can tell you. I’m what you’d call “high maintenance.” I like food the way I like it. If it’s not that way, I won’t eat it.

    I will, however, not subject restaurant staff to my whims as a general rule. I figure the chef put some thought into how the item is prepared, and I should be willing to eat it that way. Which is probably why it takes me 15 minutes to decide what to order. ;-)

  21. I’m not picky, but don’t feed me anything with flaked coconut. I don’t like the smell of coconut either, or fresh coconut, or coconut milk unless it’s very well disguised inside a savory dish. Or when I’m eating spicy Indian food and I need the coolness of raita.

  22. Shrimp in fried rice grosses me out and makes me nauseous. Shrimp cocktail and shrimp in other foods is fine.

  23. Celery! I hate celery! Although I can handle it if it’s chopped up in small pieces and added to a stew or soup. That reminds me, I can also only eat olives if they’re chopped up very fine, like tapenade.

    Also hate anything banana flavoured, but I like actual real-life bananas.

    Go on, analyze that!

  24. I love chocolate but I hate chocolate-flavored things. I don’t like thick drinks and that includes melted (especially chocolate) ice cream. But I don’t need the food therapist. My friend does.

    She doesn’t like anything combined. She doesn’t want her foods touching. If she eats a salad, she eats each ingredient separately, ie, all the cukes, then the tomatoes, then the lettuce. It takes her an hour to eat chunky soup because she has to separate it all out and it eat the same as salad. She will put a piece of meat on her plate and eat that, then get up and rinse her dish before she’ll but any vegetables on it. What’s your analysis, Dr. Frood?

  25. When I was a kid, I wouldn’t eat a PB&J sandwich. I tried it once in high school and concluded, “it wasn’t that bad”, but that was the last time I had it. I like peanut butter and jelly separately.

    I sort of feel the same way about anchovies — whole, not so appetizing, but minced is fine. Maybe I’ll try to break that habit.

    Oh, and I don’t like ketchup. But I *love* the tomato chutney they serve with burgers in a little bar called Miracle of Science in Cambridge, MA. I haven’t been there in about a decade, but *that* is what ketchup is supposed to be, but isn’t.

  26. Okay, this should be a challenging one for you, as I know it is for me. My husband has an extensive list of food preferences. First of all he won’t any condiments. No ketchup, mustard, mayo, vinegar, butter, salad dressing. He does have one exception to that rule, bbq sauce, even vinegary bbq sauce. Also, he hates most cheeses. His exception, white cheeses, but not all white cheeses. He won’t eat swiss or provolone. He eats most of his foods dry, no sauce, no gravy and certainly no condiments. But will eat potatoes cooked IN a gravy, like pot roast potatoes. He is open to foods that others might not be though, he loves tofu, even un-seasoned tofu. He’ll eat it right out of the package. He truly is a mystery!

  27. I love all food, and all food loves me (really, this is true). Does this mean I am a gluttonous narcissist? It could also mean that I never did get an Easy Bake oven when I was a child, but yet I was given a pony (really, I was).

  28. Like Karin, I can’t stand banana-flavored things, but I like actual bananas (should be fun to hear your analysis of this!).

    Also, I like hot coffee and iced coffee, but if the coffee is lukewarm, I find it disgusting. I need to have either extreme– piping hot or ice cold.

    By the way, I am a psychotherapist myself, and I can’t wait to hear what you come up with! This is fun!

  29. Two words:

    Peanut Butter. I just don’t like it. Never have.

    Unless it’s in cookie form…but most things taste better as a cookie, don’t they?

  30. Aside from not eating meat (does that count?), I don’t like weird teeth issues caused by stringy foods (celery, mango) or leafy greens (raw spinach, chard). I hate honey mustard but like sugar-sweetened mustard (although I love honey). If I bite into a kiwi and the skin touches my mouth, I get chills. I agree with Nina on the hard oranges/unripe banana/mushy apples – blech. Aside from Sour Patch Kids, I avoid anything artificially-flavored.

  31. Oh my goodness Adam!! You have opened Pandora’s Box of food freaks.

    I love it!! I don’t feel so alone anymore with all my preferences that are too numerous to list them all.

    But I will tell you I can’t stand lima beans or beets or sweet pickles and don’t try and mince them up and think I won’t taste them because I will and I will puke on your table..not a threat, it has happened more than once

  32. Wow, who knew there was such demand for food psychoanalysis? Maybe you’ve hit upon a new idea for a career. :)

    I’m generally easygoing with food. But, I don’t eat shrimp or crawfish because they are the bugs of the sea (I have a huge bug phobia). I’m also the opposite of people who eat each item on their dish at a time. I always eat everything on my plate concurrently, so the sides and entree are generally gone around the same time (not that I stuff it all in my mouth at the same time. :) Maybe that means I’m indecisive, can’t commit to one thing, and try to multitask too much? ;)

  33. Hysterical. You are such a card!

    Mine food-issue is egg-related.

    I enjoy hard-boiled eggs, but I really don’t like when the yolk is hard in over-easy eggs. And, it sickens me to see runny white, especially the albumen in fried eggs of any kind.

    So, always hard white, gooey yellow in fried eggs, but completely hard-boiled eggs are fine too.

    And, yes, I’m a pisces. ;)

  34. I pride myself on liking just about everything-all vegetables, all kinds and cuts of meat, any kind of desert. Then I went to a Chinese dinner on New Year’s Eve and they brought jellyfish to the table. Had to draw the line there.

  35. Funny how many of us have the same issues! I can’t stand hamburger but eat sausage. Coconut, jello, and brown rice? Forget about it. I like raw cabbage but gag at cooked cabbage.

    And like Amanda K, I too order shrimp out and always regret it (but continue to order it!)

  36. I cannot eat popcorn. The little bits get stuck in my throat and I get paranoid of dying from choking on popcorn.

    Also I have huge texture issues. I hate, HATE sushi and I cannot stomach lox.

  37. I’ll bite… I can’t stand mushrooms. at all. I really hate the texture, taste, earthy-ness.. pretty much everything about them. however.. I’ll eat Okra, which is the pure definition of slimy and earthy.

  38. organ meat— any way or shape or form—Ugh, I feel like gagging just thinking about it. No to hot dogs!

  39. I always like to eat everything on my plate in a balanced number of bites – so many bites of meat, so many of veg, usually ending on meat.

    I too don’t like squishy raw mushrooms because of their texture, but I love them cooked mushrooms.

    Like Annie, I pride myself on eating pretty much anything. I’d have at least tried the jellyfish. :D

  40. I’m not into soft cookies.

    I like to dunk hard (oreos!) cookies in milk and let them get soggy. Soft cookies don’t absorb milk properly and I feel like I’m chewing on a wet cookie. Blech. No soft cookies!

  41. I really hate any foods that are smoked. I can’t stand that fake smokey taste that are cheeses and some meats(especially smoked turkey,ugh). Although, I don’t mind a good quality beef jerky and we use a charcoal grill. Go figure.

  42. i hate cooked vegetables, like carrots or bell peppers or onions or tomatoes. seriously, i can’t stand them, especially cooked carrots! GROSS!

    i love mixted texture when i’m eating. having a bunch of soft things on my plate is so unappetizing, i enjoy eating something soft and chewy with something crunchy and hard at the same time (for example, sometimes i make a sandwich with white bread and ranch doritos, it’s sooo good!)

    and i don’t like hard cookies. i don’t like ANY cookie that’s hard, even if it’s supposed to be that way. chewy is the way to go, and if not then i make them softer by dunking them in milk. how can people eat hard cookies??? i still can’t wrap my mind around it…it just, doesn’t taste good at all…like eating chocolate flavored cardboard or something…bleh!

  43. I have an addiction – i’ve heard it being referred to as “food porn”. I relax in the evening gazing at the pictures in food blogs and reading the posts.

  44. Generally, I hate fruit in baked goods (any fruit pie, pancakes or muffins with raisins or blueberries, etc). I’m not a big fan of Jello in general, but I especially detest “chunks” in my Jello…mandarin oranges, marshmellows, etc…its disgusting.

  45. Hmmm… food psychology. I’m game.

    Well doctor… since I was a child I’ve abhorred anything raw from the cabbage family but the thing that made me gag the most and still makes me green around the gills just thinking about is… urk… coleslaw. Vinegar and milk dressing… ugh.

  46. I can’t stand any “innards” especially liver but then I tasted my first foie gros (goose liver) in France and it is fabulous. Of course, I can’t picture the poor goose being force feed grain every day or it doesn’t taste as good.

    Then there are brussels sprouts. The first couple of tastes, I like. By the 3rd bite I suddenly can’t stand the taste.

    Won’t eat rabbit, sweetbreads, brain and most sausage-but love that Jimmy Dean brand with breakfast-but cannot have eggs over easy on the plate. I hate seeing runny yolks on my plate.

  47. This is too much fun! It’s nice to be able to show your inner freak with the anonymity of the Internet . . .

    On to my peccadillos.

    Olives are disgusting. Salt licks should be reserved for livestock. By the way, if I’m sharing a pizza with you, and you suggest that I pick OFF the olives, I will kick you in the shins. The cheese absorbs all of that salty juice and ruins the pizza!

    I hate custard-based foods: flan, french toast, the filling in doughnuts, etc. Makes me gag. However, I like quiche (which is, of course, really a custard).

    Pickles are meant to be eaten at the end of the meal, as a palate-cleanser. Pickles do NOT belong on burgers or other sandwiches, and cannot be eaten simultaneously with other foods.

    I can eat about three bites of yogurt or a banana without gagging. After that, I can’t even look at or smell them.

    There are more, but that’s enough for now.

  48. Peas and Carrots!! Who in the heck came up with that combination? I will eat peas and I will eat carrots but if they are put in front of me and combined, I will throw up. And okra. It’s slimy on the inside and has little hairy fibers on the outside. That’s just repulsive. My biggest food quirk though is that I will not eat leftovers of any kind…Casseroles, Pizza, Chinese, doesn’t matter, I won’t eat it.

  49. I love baked ham, love peas. I cannot stand the putresence that is pea soup!

    I was also fortunate enough to sample birds nest soup. Way too slimy!

  50. Hi –

    Long time reader, first time post-er. I cannot eat “foam” in any restaurant because it reminds me of spit. If it garnishes something I’ve ordered I start to feel as if I’ve done something wrong to offend the waitstaff or those in the kitchen that made them spit in my foam. Gross.

  51. Hate jelly, creamed or any type of filled doughnuts but do like jelly and and creamed type fillings in other pastries.

  52. I won’t eat any meat that is ground up… chicken, turkey, lamb… whatever. If it is ground, I don’t want it. That means no hamburgers, sausage, hot dogs, meatloaf, cassaroles… just no.

  53. I love having just a tiny taste of food. I am one of the few members of the female population who….. get ready for this…. doesn’t like chocolate (gasp!). However, whenever there is something new chocolaty i haven’t tried, i always want a little bite of it but i never like it. Still, however, just looking at the chocolate makes my mouth water… until i taste it.

  54. I don’t like:

    Celery

    Celery salt

    Celery seeds

    V8 juice

    Bloody Marys made with V8 juice

    Winter squash is bad. I’m going through a tough time now because it’s so trendy. In soup. I keep thinking I should try it again but when I do it never tastes any better.

  55. I disliked asparagus, olives, and avocado untill I did a study abroad in South France. I hate eggplant, cannot consume it. Even at L’As du Falafel I had to pick it out.

  56. Reading all these comments reminds me of food quirks of my friends — is anonymous outing kosher here?

    I have a friend who, like Jill, won’t eat any leftovers of any kind. I just cannot wrap my brain around that. I LIVE for leftovers, and all the wonderful things that can be done with them! To add insult to injury, my friend is a physician, and goes to all these pharmaceutical company-sponsored dinners at swanky restaurants where one is fed far too much food and there’s tons to bring home for tasty next-day lunches… but he just eats what he wants then and sends the rest to the trash! What a waste! [side note: I think it is outrageous that places will serve a 14 ounce steak to begin with; but then for someone to order it and not consume it, is shocking.]

    And then there’s my dear best friend who was raised in London and went to Lysee’ schools and claims she was traumatized by various dishes there. She cannot tolerate lentils or leeks (says they stick to the back of her throat) and cannot abide brussels sprouts or bell peppers or even the smell of them cooking (ESPECIALLY when she was pregnant with her first-born… but then again, pregnancy-related food quirks are an entirely different category entirely!)

  57. I love nearly all food, except organ meat and olives. Or most soggy things–seriously, soggy cereal makes me want to throw up! Especially the sound of someone slurping soggy cereal. But cake with ice cream or pancakes with syrup is okay. Sauces touching bread is so wrong!

  58. I’ll add my food phobia to the mix, but it will hardly tax your gastro-psychoanalytical skills–something gross grossed me out. Depending on the strength of your constitution, you may or may not feel the need to hurl all over your computer when you read this. A number of years ago I was having dinner with some relatives on their farm. When I got to the bottom of my glass of fresh-from-the-farm milk, I found a disgusting, bloody, floaty mass of tissue-like substance. Now, you would think that a discovery like this would merit an immediate stomach pumping; however, all I got was a fresh glass of milk. I haven’t touched plain milk since then, and I’m not above faking lactose intolerance if someone tries to offer any to me!

  59. I have an issue with *not* liking foods. Like, I’m not particularly fond of cilantro, but I will force myself to have it in small quantities to let the flavor “grow” on me.

    I feel like, as an aspiring foodie, I should like everything. I don’t want to order my sushi with no wasabi, even though I don’t particularly like wasabi. I want to eat it the way they serve it.

    I can’t just dislike something and leave it alone. I have to continually try to like it. Perhaps I’m passive agressive? Co-dependent? Hmmm.

  60. I hate cauliflower (unless it’s soaked in melted cheese or unrecognizably mashed up and put in a casserole or something.

    The smell of brussels nearers my heave to me.

    I like tomatoes and tomato sauce, but I don’t like SLICED tomatoes in my sandwich (primarily because they make the sandwich slimy, IMO, and because I have sensitive gums. Isn’t that more than you EVER wanted to know?!)

    Finally, I love steamers and oysters, and the first few go down so easy and delectably….but once I start looking at them, I mean really eyeballing the things and thinking about them, I have to stop eating them soon after.

    Amateur Gourmet, I hope the Doctor is in.

  61. I’m with Kim – Papaya is what evil tastes like. And smells like rotten towel. Nauseated by the smell of wintogreen mint and altoids – all others are fine.

    Also not a fan of mixing cold and hot foods on a plate, or fruit with meat or in my salads (other than apples, pears or dried fruits like cranberries or plums). Love chocolate, love oranges, not together.

  62. How did I manage to accidentaly skip this posting until now?! I am glad to see that there are so many others out there that cannot stand the texture of bananas. Eww gross. I have hated them since infancy. I once ate an entire banana on a dare from my sister and it took me an hour and a half. One of the worst experiences of my life.

  63. Gretchen, this is your mother. Eat your taco salad or no nice papaya for dessert.

  64. I have an extreme disliking of cilantro, but I still like to try it to see if I’ve acquired a taste from it somehow.

    When mandarin (“Christmas”) oranges hit the supermarkets, I eat upwards of a dozen a day.

    I once ate a whole box full of those $1 Snacktime chocolate chip cookies that have maybe 1 chip per cookie.

  65. My friends and relatives can do nothing but shake their heads at me, because I won’t eat any of the top four classic American condiments: no mayonnaise, no ketchup, no mustard, no ranch.

    I also have a terrible, gag-inducing fear of any salad dressing that I have not made myself, meaning I can’t order salads in restaurants or eat them at anyone else’s house, and I generally don’t touch anything that includes vinegar which is not Balsamic vinegar. At the same time, I absolutely adore kosher dill pickles and am known to drink the juice out of the jar once all the pickles are gone.

    Also, I love fresh bananas and banana bread, yet I absolutely cannot tolerate banana in anything else — smoothies, puddings, ice creams, cereals… I have to tell people that I won’t eat these things because “the banana flavor TOTALLY took over everything else!” Which I believe it does, like a Napoleon of the fruit world.

    So what the hell is up with me?

  66. I don’t like much of any foods. I wish so much that we wouldn’t have to eat. I hate mealtime. Of course, I have to eat to live, so I usually grab something easy. I have no interest in cooking, so it’s hard to find something to eat. I am afraid to have my stomach growl at meetings, so will eat a hard boiled egg or banana before a scheduled meeting, or if I feel shaky, but finding something easy to eat at work is not easy. I may have a peanut butter sandwich (no jelly). I don’t like cheeses, but can stand a few bites of a white cheese stick if I eat it faster than I can smell it. I don’t like onions of any type and garlic is almost as bad. Every recipe I see adds onions, wine, or cream and so I don’t have any interest in making much of anything since I don’t like those things. I don’t like most things because of their flavor but also for their texture. All this would make you think I’d be skinny. Not so. I’ve apparently starved myself into over weight, with bad choices and putting myself into a saving calorie/energy mode for fight or flight. Oh, if we only didn’t have to eat. How great life would be.

  67. My friend and I always eat Mi-Goreng, like, A LOT of Mi-Goreng, today we made a liter of Mi-Goreng and ate it. What does this mean?! Why do I like Mi-Goreng so much?!

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