Out of both politeness and a sense of adventure, I’ve trained myself to eat most of the ingredients I disliked growing up. A lot of this has to do with my palate becoming more sophisticated as I got older: I wouldn’t touch lettuce (I used to flush it down the loo), peas or olive oil until I was in my late teens but now cannot imagine life without them.
Some foods I just didn’t know about. I gave away chips (French fries) at school dinner until I was maybe ten: because we had never had them at home, I presumed I didn’t like them. Others I just refused to try: mayonnaise, for example, until I was 18, then I couldn’t believe what I had been missing. I didn’t think I liked spinach or squashes (ruined by school dinners) or creme patissiere until my late twenties. Now I love them.
On the other hand, blue cheese, okra, parsnips, mashed swede, pears and aubergines (eggplant) which all used to be on my personal Index will get eaten if put in front of me, but I certainly would never choose to eat them.
However there are some foods I cannot eat without having a gag reflex. So, just for my personal amusement, here are the foods I will not, under any circumstance, contemplate putting in my mouth:
A glass of milk: YUK. I vividly remember the taste of the milk, in those little ice cold glass 1/3rd pint bottles, that we were forced to suck up through blue straws at Primary School. Hot milk is even worse: remember the skin that used to form on top? I’m giving myself chills just thinking about it.
My utter horror of milk doesn’t extend to yoghurt, cheese or cream (mmm) or, indeed, to milk as an ingredient (I’ll whip up a nice Béchamel any day), but it does include the following horrors:
Rice pudding & semolina: these are milky puddings with the texture of wallpaper paste. What’s to like?
Porridge: more milky goop. Never forgiven my mother for feeding me this for my fifth birthday breakfast. I still remember the feeling of disbelief that she would feed me this pap on my birthday.
Bird’s Custard: Slimy, smelly, milky. Lil’sis can suck this up by the bucketload, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands. But then she’s bats.
White chocolate: A pointless exercise. Creamy, milky, melty goop; usually cheap & nasty so it leaves an oily, vegetal film in the mouth. This stuff is many things but to call it chocolate is a sacrilege
Green (bell) peppers: Merely an unripe red pepper. Sour and nasty.
Tapioca: Again, it’s the milky, frogspawn-y texture thing.
Licorice & aniseed: In the same camp as far as I am concerned. Let’s add Raki, Pernod, Anisette & Ricard in there, and Pontefract cakes too whilst we’re at it.
Cooked bananas: I blame my mother’s banana mousse for putting me permanently off the pervasive taste of blended or cooked bananas. I shudder still at the memory.
Desiccated coconut. Eurgh. The hideous, slightly giving, sawdust texture. I bear this a grudge as I refused to eat coconut milk based curries for years, not realising that desiccated coconut was a filthy invention with no relation to coconut milk.
Salad Cream, margarine, Miracle Whip or Dream Topping/Whip: 4 aberrations that offend every sensibility. What? You’d rather eat a cocktail of artificial gunk than a judicious amount of mayonnaise, butter or cream? Bonkers.
Jackfruit: a bit rarified this but, believe me, I’ve never forgotten the rancid taste & slippery, silky fruit
Marzipan: this upsets me as I should like this. I adore almonds & almond essence, but the texture…
Chestnuts: It’s a texture thing again. That mealy thing chestnuts have got going on? Eurgh.
Honey & Dates: Whilst I eat fruit continually, I have come to the conclusion that I do not like dense naturally super sweet things. And as for that weird papery/sticky/oozy thing with dates…