The Foods That Strike Fear in My Heart

7 years ago

While the movie Alive was in the theaters, a popular topic of conversation was what you would do in the same situation. Would you eat your teammates if it meant your survival -- if it was the only way you were getting out of the situation alive? Some people stated that yes, they could find it within themselves to do it. And others said no, they couldn't foresee themselves eating another human. And I admitted that if my plane crashed in the Andes, and there was a properly roasted chicken on a silver platter (with a lid so that no snow could dirty-up the bird), surrounded by potatoes and carrots, I would not only not eat my teammates, but I wouldn't eat the chicken, and I wouldn't eat the potatoes and carrots because they had been on the platter with the chicken and touched it.

And this is why my husband tells people that I have poor survival skills.

Which is probably true -- in Darwin's world, I would most likely be snuffed out like those poor peppered moths -- but what it comes down to are my extensive list of food phobias. It's not that I don't want to live; it's just that my food phobias are that much stronger than my desire to get out of the Andes. (And, let's face it, I rarely wear a coat or have one with me, so I probably would die of hypothermia long before they pulled the lid off the silver platter filled with chicken. My poor mother -- can you imagine having a picky-eating-non-coat-wearing daughter?)

If I had to describe my food phobias with some umbrella factors, it would include foods that are white, foods that are goopy, and foods that come from animals. The two main food groups affected are meat/protein and dairy, though I have to admit that there are plenty of light-colored vegetables with goopy preparations that don't make the cut.

So on the spectrum from I'll-eat-it-grudgingly to I-won't-walk-down-the-aisle-of-the-food-store-where-this-item-is-housed:

  • Eggs, Milk, Sour Cream, Cream Cheese, Butter: I'm pretty good at eating these five items, even though all are white. I added them to my diet fairly late in life, and while I'll sometimes go through phases where the thought of them makes me queasy, it's generally a given that I'll eat these foods on their own, or mixed into something.
  • Light-Colored Ice Cream: It's a given that I'll eat chocolate ice cream, but every once in a while, I'll have something with a vanilla base and survive to tell the tale.
  • Yogurt: I'm fairly inconsistent with eating it, but I can do it sometimes if it's a flavor dark in color and something is in the yogurt such as bits of fruit. Smooth yogurt on its own is almost never consumed.
  • Potato Chips and Other Light-Colored Snacks: Again, not consistent with eating them, but I can generally be counted on to eat a few. It comes and goes -- some weeks, I'm willing to eat a Pringle. And other weeks, they make my teeth hurt thinking about crunching something so light in color.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Don't like them, but I'll eat them sometimes if I want something small off a menu or I need to be polite.
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes: Ha, a surprise side-trip off the grid -- it's darker in color than white mashed potatoes, but for some reason, I find mashed sweet potatoes goopier (perhaps smoother?), plus, people often put marshmallows on top, and marshmallows are one of my bigger fears.
  • All Animal Proteins: I wouldn't dream of eating chicken, beef, or fish, but I'm generally okay about touching it when I'm wearing gloves. One thing I can't do at all is pureed animal -- such as fish spreads or pate. Even tuna fish prepared for a tuna fish sandwich makes me throw up in my mouth when I see other people eating it.
  • Jello and Marshmallows: Anything with gelatin. I am a freak about checking things for gelatin, and I can't even bring myself to prepare things with gelatin for the kids. Which is fine because the one time they tried it, they hated it. Gelatin is goopy bone marrow, or something like that, so ... yikes! Goopy and clear -- a terrible combination.
  • Cheese in General: I am willing to shake mozzarella, Parmesan, or Monteray Jack out of a bag. I am willing to even eat said cheeses if they're melted, and I don't have to think about it being cheese. Every other cheese not only makes me queasy, but I don't even want to touch them. I don't want to see them or smell them. I don't even want to walk by the cheese counter at Whole Foods. I do not want to shred my own cheese. I don't want people to touch me after they've touched cheese. Cheese freaks me out. The only thing that can make me deal with cheese is if the twins want it. I can overcome my cheese fears for them and only them.
  • Cottage Cheese: It literally almost made me throw up to type the word and stare at it on the screen, just as I feel like throwing up when I walk by it in the dairy section or see someone eating it.
  • Mayonnaise: Number one food fear. Can't walk by it in the food store. Won't let Josh bring it in the house. (We tried once, keeping it in a brown paper bag, but I couldn't stop thinking about it being in the refrigerator.)

So there are the inconsistencies -- for instance, we will probably be having huevos rancheros tonight -- but like Walt Whitman, I defend this by admitting, "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." But all in all, these are the foods that strike fear in my heart as I munch on my broccoli and green beans (thank you, world, for dark vegetables).

What are foods you could never bring yourself to eat or look at?

Photo Credit: AndreaPacheco.

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her book is Navigating the Land of If.

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