Maybe you eat everything. Maybe you're Anthony Bourdain!
But for the rest of us, there are some foods we avoid to the best of our ability at restaurants and that we never stock in the pantry. Maybe you're at peace with your dislike. Or maybe you want to see what people say you're missing out on and lower yourself, slowly, into the baby pool of olives, fennel, and/or blue cheese...
We present to you some of the most divisive foods: In the first row, you'll find a couple of ways to ease yourself into them, with plenty of distractions (read: cheese, pasta, butter). Then, once you've gone from 0 to 60, try the more intense recipes listed in the second row.
Cover it up with cheddar cheese and corn, or blitz it into a sauce with yogurt, avocado, honey, and lemon juice. Once you've gotten accustomed, it's time for sauces that aren't as shy.
The dip below contains no bell peppers but, once generously applied, will make a bell pepper taste very good. Roasted green peppers aren't as polarizing as the squeaky raw ones but, nevertheless, are not for the faint of heart.
Go from anchovies as a foundational flavor, for adding salty brine to otherwise ho-hum recipes, to anchovies not ashamed to be their pungent selves.
Let fennel play second fiddle to the flavors of the grill or the rich creaminess of white beans and cheese. Once you've gotten used to its anisey sweetness, try it as the star of your salad or soup.
Olives chopped finely or pulverized into jam --> olives left whole and/or free to stand on their own.
You'll see how cookies and potato skins can benefit from some subtle funk. Once you're in Funky Town (so sorry), go crazy and sprinkle the blue cheese freely.
Use capers as a salty, briny pop to make rich or comforting dishes more exciting than monotonous. Then make them inescapable. (Be warned: Pasta Puttanesca has olives, anchovies, and capers—a triple whammy!)
It doesn't have to be slimy! Try grilling or roasting, rather than boiling. Once you're over your fear, extract the seeds and treat them like couscous.
Steer clear of the canned pineapple or maraschino cherries. As long as you think of it as a garnish (or as a ricotta-equivalent that's good for making pancakes or waffles fluff up), cottage cheese can be redeemed.
Go from using it as a garnish to putting it—and its creamy tang—front and center.
Crumble it into small pieces and use it mostly for texture; then, cut it into bigger chunks and slabs and appreciate the nutty, slightly bitter flavor, too.
Eggplant covered with cheese and sauce or fried till silken and served on corn --> eggplant as naked as it gets, burnt and mashed or sliced and grilled.
Learn to love mayo for its ability to make bread crackle as it fries or to cool down smoky roasted potatoes; soon you'll be making your own (and using it to dress your potato and/or egg salads.
Using nutritional yeast as a garnish is a gateway to making its salty, cheesy flavor your focal point (and referring to it as "nooch").
Pickle juice will make your mushrooms taste better and your dried fruit plumper and tarter. Then, graduate to full-fledged pickle-flavored potato salads.
Appreciate the savory saltiness fish sauce adds to crackly brussels sprouts and steak salad; then (maybe) make it the dominant flavor of a steak marinade or rice porridge.
Eat them with chocolate! Or start with golden beets—they're generally sweeter and less earthy.
Have you taught yourself to like any foods you spent years hating? Tell us how in the comments below!