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Food neuroses that drive you nuts


Fat Guy
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put me in with the eat one thing at a time, nothing touches crowd. apparently, i'm not the only one in my family (on my mom's side at least as i have 2 uncles, 1 cousin and apparently a grandfather that were all the same way).

i have a friend that will only eat pizza with a knife and a fork because if he picks up a food (any food) he can't put it down until he finishes it.

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I have a friend who will not eat white food. Period. I've never heard the complete story as to why he won't eat them.

The poor man will never know the pleasure of eating whipped cream or mayo (or Miracle Whip :raz: ).

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

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When I have waffles, I MUST put a tiny bit of syrup in each little square. Can't eat it without it.

susan

That's not neurotic, that's just the proper way to eat waffles! :biggrin:

Of course, you must remember to put a bit of butter in each square as well! :laugh:

In reading all of these posts I keep thinking about what really constitutes food neuroses? When does a food preference end and an actual food neurosis begin? Preferring white eggs over brown or yellow sliced processed cheese over white when there is neither a taste nor nutritional difference between them both seem neurotic to me. Ditto with "having" to methodically pour syrup into each square of a waffle instead of just pouring it on freestyle as it were, though that one's kinda cute. :wink:

Not sure how the OP does it, but I employ a very efficient right-to-left, moving-down-the-waffle technique with the syrup pitcher to ensure that all the holes are filled with one application. Life's too short to fill each hole individually. :raz:

Jan

Seattle, WA

"But there's tacos, Randy. You know how I feel about tacos. It's the only food shaped like a smile....A beef smile."

--Earl (Jason Lee), from "My Name is Earl", Episode: South of the Border Part Uno, Season 2

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When I have waffles, I MUST put a tiny bit of syrup in each little square. Can't eat it without it.

susan

That's not neurotic, that's just the proper way to eat waffles! :biggrin:

Yes - that and applying butter to every square ensures the max flavor-to-waffle ratio for every bite! Some waffle bites might be dry, and that would NEVER be acceptable!

eta: The butter must go on first to melt, of course.

Edited by crinoidgirl (log)

V

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So what's it all about? Any amateur or professional psychoanalysts have any theories?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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So what's it all about? Any amateur or professional psychoanalysts have any theories?

I'm no mental health expert, amateur or pro. To quote, (I believe) the "Book of Common Prayer," our food neuroses are an outward and visible sign of our inward and spiritual wonkiness. And as DivaLV says, at what point does a preference become a neurosis?

I think Steven's mother's refusal to accept a free carton of brown eggs over white is a teeny weird, unless she's covering them with sequins and gilt and turning out mini Faberge egss a la Martha Stewart. Maybe she'd rethink her prejudice if she was told, as I was, that the shell of a brown egg is slightly thicker than that of a white egg, and is less susceptible to hairline cracks and salmonella. (I don't actually know if that's true.)

I have a friend who won't eat scrambled egss, no matter how good, without hot sauce. I mean, he'll freak! That is certainly a preference, but he's so hysterical about it that it might push him over to neurotic status.

Margaret McArthur

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I am no expert but I suspect it has more to do with control than anything else. Most of us have a feeling that we don't have much control over very much so if we can reject brown eggs it give us a feeling that in one tiny sphere we actually can control the universe. :biggrin:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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So what's it all about? Any amateur or professional psychoanalysts have any theories?

Amateur here. I too have a friend like this. The bone presents too stark a realization of the source. She would rather not think about it.

Agreed. My ex just about passed out the first time he saw chicken feet in the stock pot. He loves hot wings, but the feet were somehow too real to him.

The food touching thing seems really childhood primal and is so common from what I read (although my sample pool must be tiny because I do not personally know anyone).

One only has to look at eating disorders to realize how food is central to our lives in terms of emotional expression. I concur with what Anna N says about control, but that is not a conscious act for the most part. The anecdotes recounted here give me the impression that early memories and associations really run deep and if you are not "food driven" it is no big deal to have them in your life. I am thinking particularly about the rice = maggots. My ex, had he had that association, was of the mental framework that he would just never eat rice again. The taste of the rice would not be an issue. As to the egg color, I have actually seen that before manifested as a cleanliness issue. No basis in fact, but the mind will believe what it want or needs to. Great topic Fat Guy.

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So what's it all about? Any amateur or professional psychoanalysts have any theories?

Amateur here. I too have a friend like this. The bone presents too stark a realization of the source. She would rather not think about it.

My brother-in-law has a rule for animal products:

"It cannot look like what it is." Period. :huh:

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AHHHH. The Seattle Syrup Shuffle. :laugh:

If it's not too personal a question for all the one-thing-at-a-time-til-it's-gone people, do you turn your plate, or do you just move to the next thing?

The only person I've ever eaten with who liked to eat that way was my Sister's Ole Miss roommate---she sat with her left hand draped languidly across the napkin in her lap, eating all of six o'clock.

Left hand up, fork down. Finger-and-thumb at four and eight, turn plate clockwise til next item was at six, hand to lap, and so on til the clock was empty. It was the neatest, most efficient dinner I'd ever seen. Neat as in NEAT. We always ate family style---who'da thought? and I never noticed if the food was spooned onto the plate in a particular order. Does anybody have a place for everything?

And for the don't-touch afficionados: Do you eat a bite of this and then a bite of that? Never some of two things in your mouth at once? And one more thing: Does a PB&J require three plates? I knew a child who required that, and that's the only thing I ever saw him eat.

And how about at hotel dinners, weddings, etc.---do you eat what comes out from under that little silver cover? Or do you leave it because something is touching? Would it be feasible to, say, cut that teensy whisper of hollandaise off the filet mignon? Would the bacon wrap be OK?

This is fascinating, a little glimpse of endearing (and enduring) habits.

Then there WAS my Sister's neighbor in Texas---she had to turn around once for each year of her age, before sitting in her dining chair. That was back in the 80's, and I guess her food may be getting cold by now.

Edited cause I did a Quayle on Afficionados

Edited by racheld (log)
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...and preferring that at Thanksgiving your mashed potatoes don't even come near the cranberry sauce--my rule, which is completely normal of course.

...

For some reason this bugs me too...although I can't think of any other times I worry about this sort of thing. I guess I don't like the color, texture and flavor combination of the two. :smile:

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

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As a kid I went off commercial applesauce for several years after the smelt run one spring. Not that I ate the smelts, just cleaned them, but the roe had the colour and consistency of applesauce.

The homemade applesauce was fine, much chunkier.

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...and preferring that at Thanksgiving your mashed potatoes don't even come near the cranberry sauce--my rule, which is completely normal of course.

...

For some reason this bugs me too...although I can't think of any other times I worry about this sort of thing. I guess I don't like the color, texture and flavor combination of the two. :smile:

ludja your reasoning and mine are very much the same in that those foods just don't belong together. I love mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, but together they are just foul. Although at first it may sound neurotic, my Thanksgiving plate has to be in this order: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, green vegetable. The cranberry sauce will be placed next to the turkey but must have sufficient space between it and the green vegetable. This ordering has less to do with neuroses than the fact I want foods touching to be compatible.

What this discussion has made me realize is that I have a pretty strong neuroses about what other people put in their mouths in my presence with the biggest anxiety producing moments coming from watching people add ketchup to foods WHERE THEY JUST DON'T BELONG! The worst for me is to sit across from someone who puts ketchup on their eggs. I would go so far as to say that if I had prepared eggs for someone and they asked me for ketchup, I might actually lie and say I didn't have any.:blink: Similarly nauseating but no where as bad as ketchup on eggs is watching someone put ketchup on cottage cheese, grits, or fish. In those situations, I would actually have a strong urge to leave the table but would not do so in an effort to not be rude. However, I would have to avert my eyes from the offending diner while eating.

And don't get me started on the food swirlers.

Gee thanks Fat Guy, now everyone knows that I'm no-doubt-about-it, snot flingin' crazy. :laugh:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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If it's not too personal a question for all the one-thing-at-a-time-til-it's-gone people, do you turn your plate, or do you just move to the next thing?

I used to eat like this, and I rotated the plate. It wasn't a neurosis or anything, I did it subconsciously. Sometimes I would catch myself and try the different foods and I didn't freak out or anything, I just find it more enjoyable to take my time on each item.

Now, I usually eat about half of one food, go onto the next so I make the round twice. I find it much more satisfying to eat the food this way as opposed to a bite of this, a bite of that. If I just eat chicken for a while, for example, I can really immerse myself in it and enjoy the chicken. I might notice different aspects of the food over time. If the food is really messy I enjoy spending the time on it where it becomes a nuisance if I'm eating other stuff and I go for a single bite of something time consuming.

I find when I eat everything at once it's like flipping through channels on tv where nothing really sinks in or leaves an impression.

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My sister will dissect meat to remove every visible speck of fat.  She looks like a surgeon in the OR.

Dang, the fat is usually the best part!

One of my dearest friends is an incredibly picky eater. Over the course of our friendship I have widened her horizons tremendously. She now eats Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, yogurt and lots of other things that were previously verboten. Her attitude now is loose enough on occasion to say "Just don't tell me what it is until I've tasted it", which is enormous progress. I took her as my guest earlier this week to a city wide food event I was asked to help judge. Many of the finest restaurants in the city were represented and were serving what they believed to be samples of their best dishes. My friend tried and loved pork belly for the first time. Thought it was fabulous. Another restaurant was also serving pork belly and she had to dissect it to within an inch of it's life and proclaimed it "too fatty" for human consumption. She'd just eaten a similar preparation elsewhere and didn't think twice about it. But this one had to be hacked to bits first and the best parts pushed to the side of the plate. She still won't eat duck in any shape or form, even after Chef Alfred Portale made it his personal mission to get her to like it when she worked with him at Striped Bass. He gave her a taste of half a dozen different duck preparations over time, and not one of them passed muster. Shellfish are the same way. They're "bottom feeders" and "disgusting low forms of life." Yet King Crab legs are fine when dunked in drawn butter. :wacko:

<sigh> I shall never understand her or her strange random irrational aversions.

When I was in high school I took the bus to school every day with my best friend that lived down the block and two houses from the bus stop. I'd stop at her house and have breakfast with her occasionally too. She would randomly find cornflakes that somehow didn't please her and remove them from the bowl with great flourish and continue eating. "What was wrong with that one?", I'd ask curiously. "I don't know", she'd say, "I just don't like the looks of it." WTF is that about??? Has to be those control issues some of you mentioned, because there was no rhyme nor reason to the rejected flakes on the side of the bowl. I found this habit of hers maddening, for reasons I can't quite explain. Does that make me crazy too? :unsure:

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

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My friend will only eat bananas that have NO speckling on the peel - i.e. hard with no taste or fragrance.

I keep telling him that he is eating an unripe banana and it he waited a couple days, it would actually taste like something....

Errr.... I am like that too. Actually, I believe there was a whole thread devoted to the banana thing. I feel like I can taste the gas when i eat the ripe banana, and they're generally too sweet for me at that point. I eat them as yellow as possible before any black marks/spots appear.

I also spread very evenly to all the edges. This has been made fun of by others in the past.

My boyfriend can't eat the yolk and white of the egg separate at all. He only eats eggs scrambled, and they have to be whisked well before cooking so that no white part remains unblended into the yellow-ness.

He also refuses to eat many things because they are "slimy". Raw tomatoes. Okra. Zucchini. Mushrooms. ::sigh::

His mom is one of those "I can't stand garlic" people. I've been warned not to insist on including (too much) garlic if I cook for her. He's tried to convince her that she doesn't hate it. Needless to say, I wouldn't be dating him if he was like that. Hehe.

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A lot of these things don't really seem to be neuroses, but more "normal" personal preferences. For example, disliking something because of its texture doesn't strike me as neurotic, or disliking certain flavor combinations, or flavors in general. I think of a "food neurosis" as irrationally refusing to eat something, the key being the irrational part. My mom's husband's insistence on only eating yellow/orange cheese, for example, even though the only difference is the addition of (tasteless, odorless) food coloring. Or Fat Guy's mom's refusal to eat brown eggs. There is no rational reason for these behaviors. That, to me, is neurotic.

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