I’ll give you a minute to compose yourself from this shocking revelation, because apparently being a picky eater as a child is the worst possible thing in the world a child could be.
I had a very limited palate as a kid. I didn’t like to eat anything that wasn’t white, yellow, or brown (beef and toast, specifically). Or pizza. Which was usually fine in my meat-and-potatoes home, although there were some passionate debates over green beans.
And yes, I heard all the Jeremiads about how bad it was to be a picky eater, although I can’t remember any of the reasons why. There probably weren’t any. Because allow me to let you in on humanity’s little secret: everyone is a picky eater. Everyone has that one thing they cannot eat under any circumstances.
My dad won’t eat spicy food. He considers black pepper spicy.
My husband won’t eat mushrooms. Or anything made with canned cream of mushroom soup. And yes, he can tell if I use it and lie to him that it’s just cream of chicken instead.
My friend won’t eat tomatoes in any form.
My mom won’t eat onions.
My brother will only eat vegetables that can be consumed raw.
My father-in-law can’t stomach red meat.
I don’t care how many marshmallows you throw on that sucker or even if you deep-fry it, I’m not eating a sweet potato.
Everyone has their “thing,” and there’s a reason beyond stubbornness: science. Studies are showing our food aversions are likely to be a genetic trait. Now, with repeated forced exposure, my friend might one day learn to tolerate, even enjoy, tomatoes.
But what’s the point?
So what if she never likes tomatoes? So what if my mother can never tolerate onions? So what if my father-in-law never develops a taste for red meat?
So what if someone doesn’t like exactly the same things I do the exact same way I like them? Is it really that big of a deal?
And yes, I’ve heard the whole, “Children need to learn the world won’t cater to their every whim.” And I have to ask, is the dinner menu really where they learn that? I mean, really? If you determine your child’s bedtime, make them do their homework when they’d rather play video games, and teach them bullying others is wrong, are they going to be undone by only eating macaroni and cheese for a while?
The funny thing is, I’m now the most adventurous eater in my family. I’ll try just about anything once (and probably anything, if you don’t tell me what it is until afterwards). 25 years ago I would only eat blue box mac and cheese and mashed potatoes and cheese pizza. As an adult, I’ve tried raw sushi, sautéed baby octopus, and even menudo. And that’s after smelling the menudo. And knowing what it’s made of.
But I still don’t like green beans.