Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Picking on Picky Eaters

Just read an old Slate article titled “The Omnivore: Learning to Eat Everything” and is by (former?) Vogue food critic Jeffrey Steingarten (link via RC3 via Kottke). As a non-picky eater, the article really struck a chord. I’ve always had a problem with people who are super picky about their food. I just don’t get it. Call me judgmental, but it always seemed to be a sign of bigger things. I always kind of felt like if you aren’t willing to eat new things, you probably aren’t all that open to trying new things either. Steingarten nails my thinking with this paragraph:

I have always thought that people who keep a long list of certifiably delicious foods that they avoid are at least as troubled as people who avoid sex, except that the latter will probably seek psychiatric help, while food phobics rationalize their problem in the name of genetic inheritance, allergy, vegetarianism, matters of taste, nutrition, food safety, obesity, or a sensitive nature. (True food allergies can be extremely dangerous, but no more than 1 percent or 2 percent of adults suffer from them.) The examples of neurotic food avoidance could take several volumes to fill, but milk is a good one.

I love food. All kinds of food. If you ask me to name something I won’t eat I have a lot of difficulty. Yeah, there are things I don’t love, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try them. In fact, for years I didn’t like olives (and please forgive me if you’ve heard this story). Then one day I decided I would train myself to enjoy them. Slowly I would eat a few olives every few months. Eventually I learned to really enjoy them. Today, I don’t eat olives every day, but I no longer avoid them.

I guess I just never understood why people were so picky. Most food isn’t going to hurt them. They might not like the taste, but is that really the end of the world? Drink a little water afterwards and the taste goes away. Why not give it a shot? You’ll never know if you like it if you don’t try. Then, even if you hate it the first time, why not try it again? Sure, don’t go out and order and waste your money on something you won’t enjoy, but try it when you have the chance. See if you like it more. Maybe it was badly cooked the first time or it was spoiled. Too often we reject things based on their first impression without giving them a fair shot. So just try it again, see what happens.

Sorry to the picky eaters out there, I don’t mean to pick on you, but I just can’t relate. Probably because I’ve tasted the world your missing and it’s mmmm . . . mmmm . . . good.

April 22, 2005