Lists

The Foods You Say You Hate—& Recipes That'll Change Your Mind

August 31, 2016

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.

Cilantro

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.

Green peppers

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.

Anchovies

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.

Fennel

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

Olives chopped finely or pulverized into jam --> olives left whole and/or free to stand on their own.

Blue cheese

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.

Capers

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!)

Okra

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.

Cottage cheese

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.

Goat cheese

Go from using it as a garnish to putting it—and its creamy tang—front and center.

Tempeh

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

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.

Mayonnaise

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.

Nutritional yeast

Using nutritional yeast as a garnish is a gateway to making its salty, cheesy flavor your focal point (and referring to it as "nooch").

Pickles

Pickle juice will make your mushrooms taste better and your dried fruit plumper and tarter. Then, graduate to full-fledged pickle-flavored potato salads.

Fish sauce

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.

Beets

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!

3 Comments

Emily August 31, 2016
Two of my four can't-eat foods are on this list. I have nothing against the taste of capers but they look too much like gerbil poop for me to eat them. I've never liked okra (slimy + seeds = why bother?), but I tried it for the last time at a very fancy restaurant in Charleston. I figured if I didn't like it there I never would. I didn't. The other two foods I hate are baba ganoush (tastes like dirt) and mussels (intestines...)
 
ChefJune August 31, 2016
Cilantro is not a like or dislike food. I've tried to appreciate it for more than 30 years, but it ALWAYS tastes like soap in my mouth, and the smell is unpleasant. I've since come to find out there's a genetic disturbance that causes this phenomenon in approximately 10% of the population. So no matter how many times I try it, or how many different ways - cilantro and I can't connect. And you can't hide it from me, either.
 
Deborah B. August 31, 2016
I'm one of the 10% too. The dislike is immutable. Believe me, lovers of cilantro do not taste and smell what we do. I wish I could live it like others do. I eat and enjoy all of the other items in this article.