In Which We Examine Our Unhealthy Diets
Friday, June 5, 2009 at 9:27PM

I Have Never Known a Grapefruit

by Tyler Coates

I am almost twenty-five years old and I have never eaten a banana.

To my knowledge, I've also never had an orange, or a cherry. Once a girl I had a crush on pressured me into eating a strawberry, but I haven't had one since.

I was a freshman in college before I branched out from spaghetti to other forms of pasta, because I was so certain that the different shapes would also somehow affect how the pasta's taste.

Most of my friends have accepted, for the most part, that I am the pickiest eater they've ever met outside of their fussy, four-year-old cousins. I can't really explain what is wrong with me, but in the past year or so I've really tried my best to figure out what my deal is (that is, I tried on my own, as I can't afford therapy).

My friends love to play "What Does Tyler Eat?", which, next to Cranium, is my least-favorite game to play with mixed company. The rules are simple: you only need to list of common foods most people eat, and I respond with a "yes" or a "no." One should expect mostly negative responses.

Foods I don't like include macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, pineapples, nuts, beans (of all varieties), pork chops, ham, peas, eggs, tomatoes, and oatmeal.

I've come to accept my eating foibles, but it is a difficult set of rules to live by. I've come to fear eating dinner at friends' houses, afraid that I'll offend their mothers for turning up my nose at the dinner table. My contributions to pot lucks usually involve alcohol, which is what I normally stick to at such events (and if I'm lucky, I remember to eat before leaving my house). Going out to dinner is a typically safe practice, as long as the cuisine isn't too ethnic (no Chinese food for me, please) and I can always order the old standby, the hamburger with mustard and ketchup, cooked well-done.

A lot of people ask if my parents are as picky as me, and they definitely aren't. The thing about living in a town of 300 in rural Virginia, however, is that you don't really get many exotic options. My mother never strayed from a regular menu which included chicken, beef, and pizza. After a few years of preparing a separate meal for me (usually frozen pizza or a hamburger), my mother stopped enabling me and made sure I ate everything the made for dinner, which included the cooked vegetables I still cannot manage to eat today. While her efforts weren't completely in vain (I like grilled pork tenderloin! and turkey!), I can't say that I'm eating a lot of broccoli these days, which is one of the few cooked vegetables I can manage to swallow without feeling sick.

It's not so much the taste of food that I can't handle, but the texture. I'd love to eat more fruit, as I enjoy the flavors, but it's the squishy, juicy feeling of the seedy little things in my mouth that completely turns me off. I'm the same way with cooked vegetables: outside of corn and the occasional piece of broccoli, I can't stand the idea of a limp piece of food sliding around in my mouth.

I never thought of this as a serious problem, as I have been able to work around it when eating meals with friends. It wasn't until last year, when my first serious boyfriend listed it as one of the reasons for breaking up with me, did I begin to think that there might be something wrong and it was affecting other people more than it was affecting me. So, being the cyberchondriac that I am, I started researching on the Internet. Of course, most sites that focus on picky eaters focus mainly on children, not adults, but I did find a sort of online support group, which finally gave people like me a voice! But, since I enjoy reading about people's psychological problems with great joy, I couldn't help but find the site slightly ridiculous. For example, here are tips for getting out of social situations where one's eating quirks will come into the spotlight:

  1. Tell the host you're not hungry.

  2. Pretend you're sick and just threw up.

  3. At the last minute have someone call you about an emergency.

  4. Admit you're unable to eat what is served and just sit quietly.

  5. Complain that you are allergic to the food being served.

  6. Proclaim you're a Vegetarian.

  7. Pretend your fasting and have a medical procedure scheduled.

  8. Decline the food because of Religious Beliefs.

  9. Avoid getting invited in the first place.

  10. Tell everyone the truth that you are the world's pickiest eater and you won't be able to enjoy what's being served.

  11. Show up late around the time everyone is finished eating.

  12. Just don't show up at all.

  13. Offer sex to a man who wants to take you to dinner.

If this website did anything for me, it made me feel less like a crazy person and more like someone who would just rather order a pepperoni pizza than rosemary and orange braised lamb shank served with orzo and parsley gremolata.


Tyler Coates is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a blogger living in Chicago, home of some of America's best restaurants that he constantly avoids.

Nothing is quite as lovely - or simple - as an Arby's roast beef sandwich.


"Down in the Park" - Gary Numan and Tubeway Army (mp3)

"Place I Know/Kid Like You" - Arthur Russell (mp3)

"Le Ruse" - Tapes 'n Tapes (mp3)


"I Don't Want to Forget About Dre" - Eminelton (mp3)

"Hours" - TV on the Radio (mp3)


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