The life of a former picky eater

posted by Frank May 6, 2016

It’s not easy being a picky eater, I used to be one myself until a few years ago. Life is hard when you’re not adventurous and you really really really like to stick to the food you know. Any kind of restaurant can be a horrible place for picky eaters. I’ve changed for the better, so here’s my story of my transformation from a sushi and banana hater to a true omnivore.

We’ve been together for over 11 years, but Daphne only told me a few years ago she used to be very disappointed that I didn’t like dim sum. I hated dim sum, especially the famous Hong Kong egg tarts, which tasted too eggy for my liking (yeah, I know). For me, dim sum dishes were like black boxes; there could be anything in those steamed and fried buns. Mushroom? Shrimp? No thanks, I’m out of here, I said to myself and to Daphne when we were in one of the best dim sum restaurants in Amsterdam years ago.

What the farmer doesn’t know…
The list of things I didn’t eat was extensive as well as completely random. I would stick to the food I knew, I had a very specific taste, as if I was on some kind of strange diet, and I would never ever try something new. I hated onions, mashed potatoes, most vegetables (except raw veggies like lettuce, cucumber and carrots; I would not touch cooked carrots), pasta sauce with veggies in it, fried eggs, butter on toast, bananas, coconut, any kind of fish except boneless, deep-fried white fish with plenty of garlic sauce, et cetera. I could go on forever.

This mentality is so common, there’s a Dutch saying for this: ‘wat de boer niet kent, vreet ‘ie niet.‘ Meaning: what the farmer doesn’t know, he doesn’t eat. Basically, a stick-in-the-mud will try nothing new.

Going out
The worst thing about being a picky eater is having to eat with friends and family. They will insist you try that one dish, because really, you won’t taste the onions (when it in fact you will not get the onion taste out of your mouth for the entire evening). Lies, damned lies. It’s terrible. Nobody understands why you have to be so picky, and honestly, you probably don’t understand yourself. You just hate the food, even if you’ve never tried it before. Stop asking me to try new stuff. Leave me alone!

My first (and last!) time eating a sea snail… #hongkong #hkig #hkfood #hkfoodie

A photo posted by Frank (@dutchnomadfrank) on

In the picture above I had dinner at a seafood restaurant in Hong Kong with Daphne’s family (her cousin is in this picture). It was the summer of 2015. I had changed. I tried a few freshly cooked sea snails. OK, I didn’t like the chewiness and I’m still not a fan, but hey, at least I tried. This difference in mentality is huge.

Delicious sushi
Being adventurous and always searching for new food is my way of life now. I found out a lot of the dishes I didn’t like before or didn’t even try out of fear for not liking it were not only good, but seriously delicious. Like sushi. I used to feel sick looking at raw fish. I even despised people who liked sushi (sorry for all the hate, sushi lovers). Now I’m a sushi addict; I can’t wait for my next tuna and salmon fix.

I learned eating sushi in 2014 in Hong Kong. Again, it was with Daphne’s family. We had dinner at Genki Sushi in a shopping mall in Sheung Shui. There was no escaping it. Her family ordered salmon nigiri, fried squid lips and other stuff I had never tried before. Not wanting to be rude and ungrateful I gave all the dishes a try. To my surprise (and Daphne’s) I liked every plate of sushi. The same thing happened with dim sum a few years before, when Daphne’s mom took us for a dim sum lunch in our hometown The Hague.

Lessons learned
So how do you go from a picky eater to an adventurous foodie who loves to travel and even eats chicken brains (click for the picture if you really want to see) in a street food stall in Hong Kong? I’m not really sure, because some picky eaters just want to be picky eaters forever. There’s no reasoning with them. Forcing a picky eater to finish his plate doesn’t work. In my case a little bit of social pressure did help a lot, and seeing other people loving and enjoying the food we were eating. Every time I was pleasantly surprised after trying a new dish, it made me more confident that I should try even more new and sometimes weird foods.

Chicken claw

Chicken feet soup

Now I’m at a point where I perfectly understand picky eaters, but at the same time I feel a bit annoyed and frustrated when they stubbornly refuse to try a bite. Life is so much more fun and less complicated if you’re not afraid of trying new things. But telling a picky eater that doesn’t work; he won’t listen, just like I wouldn’t listen. The change has to come from positive experiences.

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