Sunday, May 5, 2013

In which I fail to overcome my gag reflex

When I was little, I was a picky eater. I wouldn't touch zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes, spicy food, or any kind of fruit. I would throw tantrums at the dinner table, pretend to throw up, hide food under the edge of my plate, anything I could do to get out of eating the foods I hated.

Fast forward to now.

I consider myself a fairly adventurous eater. I've eaten goat, octopus, squid, and eel (warning to everyone: dried squid is nasty). I love spicy foods of all varieties and have learned to love squash, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. If I forget to ask for no tomato on my burger, I leave it on, and enjoy the juiciness. But there is one area where my tastes have apparently not matured.

I still hate fruit.

Usually when I tell people this, they look at me in horror, as if I'd just said that I drown kittens for fun on the weekend or I think Saddam Hussein was a pretty cool dude. They tell me fruit is the nectar of the gods, that I'm missing out on something amazing. And I believe them. I love fruit juices and I love the smell of fruit. I just can't handle actually eating it.

This makes for some interesting experiences. I'm all for being polite and eating things when offered, but sometimes I think it would be more polite to pass on an offer of fruit and spare my host the experience of watching me desperately fight my gag reflex. This was demonstrated on my study abroad in Austria, when my host mom served us apricots coated in brown sugar for dessert one night. I didn't have the German expertise to politely decline, so I choked a few down. Eventually, she was alarmed by the faces I was making, and in explanation, I could only say, "Ich fuhle mich krank heute (I'm feeling sick today)". Which got me out of eating the apricots, but also gave Frau Feest an excuse to insist that I drink chamomile tea and eat fruit compote (her cure for every illness).

Another time, I was meeting a boyfriend's parents for the first time, and at dinner, was given a dish full of watermelon, raspberries, and strawberries. I don't mind watermelon, and I was able to muscle down two of the raspberries, but strawberries were out of the questions. So every time his mom looked away, I would spoon some of my fruit onto my boyfriend's plate.

I'm not actually sure why I have such a hard time with fruit. Usually I tell people that it's a texture thing, which is true. But I'm still not sure why I can handle raw fish textures and tomato textures and octopus tentacle textures, and not bananas. It might be the intense sweetness combined with the bizarre textures. And fruit textures are bizarre. Bananas and raspberries are furry, oranges are stringy, melons are squishy...I don't know how people handle it.

And that is why I can eat raw fish twice in one week (ceviche at Se Llama Peru on Thursday and nigiri at Wild Ginger yesterday) but I almost threw up when I discovered a grape in a chicken salad sandwich last weekend.


  1. Wow, Karissa! I didn't know this about you!

  2. Oh, dried squid!! Tastes like pet store :)

  3. Oh goodness I feel exactly the same way. I think bananas are the worst because they smell may too. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who gets weird looks!