Your Burning Questions

Best of the Hotline: Popular Foods You Secretly Dislike

May  9, 2015

Some questions on the Hotline have staying power, and for good reason—they cover the questions we ask ourselves time and time again. Join us as we revisit some of the most popular.

Today: Food52ers spill the beans on their food aversions.


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We all have them: the things we do not like, the things we will not eat. Rather than admit this to anyone, we just push the offending ingredient around and around on our plate, hoping our dining companions won’t notice. Sometimes we’ll slip it to the dog when no one's looking—she’s not complaining.

No one wants to be known as a picky eater, especially if someone else is cooking for us—it’s embarrassing, and some find it rude. But over on the Hotline, LucyS wants us all to reveal the foods we secretly can't stand. She admits to disliking the following: “Brussels sprouts, anchovies or other very fishy-tasting fish, capers, truffles (the mushroom kind, not the chocolate kind—and I don't know why), fennel/anise flavors, and peanut butter in desserts.” She's hoping not to be in the minority with so many dislikes…and is also hoping that other Food52ers will out themselves, because, you know, misery loves company.

Meat and dairy woes

  • Third Floor Kitchen justifies a strong aversion to liver: “I used to come home from school and cringe when I saw my mother had pulled out her avocado-green electric skillet. This always meant one of two things: pork chops seared and seasoned with salt and pepper (which I loved) or liver and onions (the sight of which sent me to the depths of despair).”
  • Drbabs avoids offal, crème fraîche, heavy cream sauces, and fatty meat, saying, "I seriously don't get the obsession with short ribs." 
  • Gourmet Metrics doesn’t like cottage cheese, and neither does ChefJune, who says, “It looks like baby spit-up on a plate.”


Eat your vegetables (or not)

  • Kbckitchen says: “Cilantro = having my mouth washed out with soap as a child when I sassed my mama.” 
  • Savorthis avoids frisée, saying, “It attacks you when you try to eat it, and nobody cuts it small enough.”
  • Sweetlolo started a chain reaction of disgust by bringing up her aversion to green peppers. Reiney adds, “Actually I don't like any raw peppers, and accidentally eating them is made worse by the taste just lingering for ages after consumption.”
  • Summer of Eggplant can’t stand beets, claiming, “I've tried, I really have—they make me gag.” 


Fishy seafood

  • MaryMaryCulinary says that she despises anchovies, no matter how small the quantity: "And for those of you who think they just disappear into the sauce and provide a depth of unidentifiable flavor, well, you are just mean."
  • Esther Plume mentioned a dislike of scallops, which led to an outpouring of agreement on a dislike of shellfish. SeaJambon chimes in with an aversion to lobster, clams, and oysters.
  • Meganvt01 can’t stand eel: "Used to love it but after catching hundreds of the slimy, writhing beasts during the summer, I can't tolerate even the sight of it!”


Tropical trepidation

  • Boulangere mentioned a distaste for coconut water, opening the floodgates of commiseration. Amysarah says, “Ugh, I so agree. And I am a major, life-long coconut fanatic—fresh, anything cooked with coconut milk, coconut pie, cake, cookies, ice cream—love it all. I'm sure the road to heaven is paved in Almond Joys. But coconut water? Vile.”
  • Jmburns doesn’t like ginger or mango.
  • SexyLAMBCHOPx avoids coconut milk and lemongrass.

Sweet sadness

  • Creamtea isn’t a huge fan of cinnamon, especially with chocolate.
  • Gibson2011 hates black walnuts, explaining, “My grandmother used to bake with them all the time and again, as a child, when I'd ask if there were nuts in the chocolate chip cookies she'd tell me no. One bite was all it took to realize that was a lie."
  • Melusine can’t stand “anything with a hint of licorice flavor—from anise to fennel to Twizzlers, red or black.” 
  • Hilarybee says, “I have always hated peanut butter! No amount of chocolate, jam, or sugar can change my opinion.”

What do you surreptitiously push around on your plate? Tell us in the comments below! 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Baconist
  • Sarah
  • Niknud
  • Stephanie
  • Aliwaks
Mei Chin

Written by: Mei Chin

Let's have dinner sometime. There will be champagne and ice cream for sure; everything else is up in the air.


Baconist January 10, 2016
I find that fennel and/or anise are particularly unnecessary in almost any dish. Their flavors never blend with the other ingredients and always act as a distraction to me. Same with green bell pepper - just just doesn't blend and is particularly objectionable when raw. I call these flavors culinary outliers and avoid them whenever I can. BTW, red, yellow and orange bell peppers are fine - their flavors actually work in most dishes.
Sarah May 13, 2015
The soapy tasting cilantro aversion is due to an enzyme certain people produce when they eat it, at least that's what I've heard. I love it. Arugula, raw tomatoes and mushrooms, turkey not so much.
Niknud May 12, 2015
Unfortunately for my waist line, there really isn't a whole lot I don't like. After enough bourbon, I will even confess to experimenting with fermented tofu with my dad. Not saying I'd enjoy it 100% sober.....
Stephanie May 12, 2015
Avocados. It's not the texture really, it's the taste. I hate them. Guacamole? Hate it. Every once in a while I'll try it again, in hopes that my taste buds may have changed. But no, still hate them.

And cold shrimp. I rather enjoy warm shrimp, right off the grill, in paella or pasta. But that slimy, rubbery, cold cocktail shrimp....Pass.
Aliwaks May 11, 2015
Tuna Melts- I think they smell.
Quinoa - reminds me of fingernails
Cream Sauce - No!
Cheese sauce on vegetables, fish or meat- I will throw myself on the floor to avoid that (the only exception is a late night Philly cheese steak, but I don't live in Philly anymore)
Chocolate Cheesecake or Oreo Cheesecake- when I am dieting I visualize chocolate cheese cake and it makes me not want to eat food.
Multi meat items, like short rib stuffed burgers with bacon and foie gras - toooo much
Gravy- Overrated even when I can tell it's good I just can't get excited about it
Poutine- Gross
Uni- I am obviously a troglodyte
Large pieces of raw fish- because the feel like dead cold tongue in my mouth ( i like small thin pieces though)
Raw egg - I feel like I would die from eating it- and I've swallowed a live goldfish (not habitually but once in college at a frat party)
Liver, brains, kidneys, sweetbreads, blood - No Thank you (Except Chicken,Duck or Goose-liver)
Kraft Mac & Cheese- Sweet & weird
Blueberry or chocolate chip bagels- an abomination

Judy C. May 11, 2015
That was really a fun piece, so here are my thoughts; cilantro, otherwise known as soap, almost all Mexican food it all takes the same, fishy fish is a no-no, Indian food, as it is all over spiced in my opinion, but I do like liver and onions in case you think I am too picky.....
Shmmm May 11, 2015
Mac and cheese. I don't understand Americans' obsession with it. And believe me, I have tried it in all the permutations and combinations of different cheeses, pasta shapes, add-ins (even bacon didn't help, and I LOVE bacon), various grandma's recipes, etc. I just don't get it.
Well S. May 11, 2015
I will never understand people's love if cilantro. It tastes like soap. Stop trying to appear cool just because you eat cilantro!
Whole liver. I will cook chicken livers on occasion for my husband but I can't get them past my lips. I do enjoy a nice pate but not whole liver.
Parsnips, liver, kale, canned peas, celery, chick peas. No rhyme or reason to it. The list is very, very different from when I was a child. Except for the liver and parsnips. Day to day, there are foods I really don't feel like and that list is exceedingly fluid.
rosainverno May 11, 2015
Jessica C. May 11, 2015
I've been cooking professionally for years and I'm sad to admit I still can't stand uni. Urchin roe is just one of those things I can't learn to love despite thinking it's an extremely cool food and an ingredient I really respect. Also, cantaloupe, even the smell bothers me, I will endure honeydew, love watermelon but can't even put cantaloupe in my mouth. Also, not into green bell peppers. Love liver in processed forms, pate, mousse and terrines etc, but I'll never enjoy just seared liver of any kind.
ambradambra May 11, 2015
Raw onion on anything (nasty, acrid overpower-everything food); kidneys (taste like the stuff they filter); pomegranate (lovely to look at, gritty when eaten); beets (beetroot here in Australia); processed coconut water (tastes nothing like the natural beverage);
AntoniaJames May 11, 2015
This question popped up on the Hotline a few years ago. I started to make a list. I stopped at about 40 items. Most of them had been contest themes. Yes, I'm quite possibly the pickiest eater over the age of 10 that you'll ever meet. But I actually have, thanks to Food52 (the Ottolenghi hummus recipe featured in the Genius column) actually struck one item from that list in the past 2 years. ;o)
drbabs May 11, 2015
My list is over 40 items, too! The only person I know who's pickier than I am is my husband.
Karen H. May 10, 2015
Any color bell pepper, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, lamb, couscous, coconut water, anything that's spicy hot, quinoa. I'm sure there are more but that's what I quickly came up with.
Leah S. May 10, 2015
Cold brew coffee, truffle oil, and Tarragon.
natasha May 10, 2015
natasha May 10, 2015
not sure why the + sign is all through my comment...
beckbjj May 10, 2015
I'm on a mission to learn to like some of the things I hate, because I think I'm just being childish. I love classic yellow mustard, but am trying to learn to like others like dijon, brown, whole grain, etc., and also horseradish. I like the heat from chilies that's in your mouth, but the sinus clearing thing (which everyone calls heat but isn't heat to me) is a real challenge to me. Once I conquer mustard and horseradish, my next project will be blue (or otherwise moldy-on-purpose) cheese. To my palate, blue cheese tastes absolutely no different than does moldy cheese cheese that isn't supposed to be moldy. I don't quite get why one is considered good while the other is bad. It all tastes like it needs to be tossed to me. Somehow, someday, I will conquer this.
Liz D. May 10, 2015
Arugula. Liver in any form; I don't care how much butter or brandy is in your pate, it still tastes like liver. Organ meats. Foods that are too soft.
louanne May 10, 2015
Arugula! My whole family says the same thing "arugula tastes the way petroleum smells."
Ashley R. May 10, 2015
I HATE arugula, water chestnuts, and too much thyme.