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Best of the Hotline: The Most Polarizing Foods

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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 on foods they love, hate, and love to hate. 


"You like potato and I like potahto. You like tomato and I like tomahto," Ella Fitzgerald sings in her rather food-studded duet, "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." While Fitzgerald's song ends in a compromise (there's lobster), it hints at the real divide eating can create. Everyone has their own food aversions, but there are some foods it seems people either love or hate.

Cilantro's a seemingly innocent herb, but it's as polarizing as north and south. Pickles cause quite a conundrum (or, you know, a pickle). Okra's slimy texture is too much for some to bear. The like-dislike balancing act is especially apparent when cooking for guests—it's not just your stomach on the line. Over on the Hotline, SKK wants to know what polarizing foods we all stay away from when entertaining. Whether it's to avoid offending your guests or having to let them go hungry—and, who knows which would be worse. One thing's clear: Eating habits are as tightly held as potatoes and potahtoes.


Vegetables, kind of a big dill

  • Beyondcelery points out that some people dislike briny foods like pickles, capers, and olives. 
  • Em-i-lis defends the often maligned brussels sprouts and okra, but adds: "I do NOT think okra should be in gumbo because of the slime factor. I grew up in Louisiana and always preferred an okra and tomato-free gumbo." 
  • Cilantro divides Sam1148's household: "The partner will only eat the stems because the leaves taste like soap to him." 
  • Anitalectric observes, "People can be weird about bell peppers." Amysarah chimes in, saying she loves all peppers, except for green bell peppers. "They always taste sort of metallic and institutional to me, regardless how fresh or well-prepared."

Surf and turf 

  • MaryMaryCulinary detests anchovies: "I keep trying, and well-meaning folks like to say that you can't taste them, they just add a certain savouriness. Um, is that what you call the foul oily-fishy layer coating my mouth?"
  • Wssmom likes most foods, but isn't a fan of tripe and kidneys.
  • SKK's dad loved Spam and has friends who pair it with pineapple as a pizza topping, but never personally developed a taste for it.
  • Niknud had a traumatic experience with a whole baby octopus.

Some like it plain

Fruit's not always peachy

  • JessicaBakes doesn't like the smell of bananas, while Nutcakes likes bananas, but only in certain forms: either very firm or in banana bread.
  • Healthierkitchen says, "My brother and sister in law do not eat tomatoes. They will eat tomato sauce, ketchup, and other tomato-based products but not raw or even chunks of lightly cooked tomato."
  • Sadassa_Ulna has moved past her childhood hatred of coconut, but as a kid she could never understand why anyone would "ruin" a cake by dredging it in shredded coconut.

Not-so-sweet endings

  • Susan g loves black licorice, Good & Plenty, and black jelly beans. Other commenters, though, find anise-flavored anything unappealing, like fennel and Pernod.
  • Aimless loves peanut butter and the nuts themselves, but says, " I can. not. eat. a peanut butter cookie."
  • Nina Lombardo says people hate rainbow or seven-layer cookies, concluding, "I suspect the haters have had flavorless, dry ones that seem to appear in every deli in NY."

What foods do you absolutely love or hate? Tell us in the comments below!

Tags: your burning questions, dislikes, food aversions, preferences