Confessions of a picky palate


First, the good news:  I’m going to Ireland in October. Yay!

Northern Ireland map
I’ll be taking a bus from the Dublin airport to Belfast (in red). Pigeon Top is a bit west of Omagh (see right above “Northern”). Dublin is due south from Newry.

I will be spending most of the trip as a guest in the home of my dear friend Bernadette’s sister, Breda. Breda’s home is in tiny Pigeon Top near the city of Omagh, which is about 70 miles or so west of Belfast. Bernadette, who lives on the Isle of Man, will fly over to meet me in Belfast. We’ll rent a car to drive to Breda’s home. In addition to staying with Breda, I’ll meet more of Bernadette’s brothers and sisters and we’ll take day trips to visit places like the Giant’s Causeway and the Ulster Folk Museum.  Bernadette and I have talked about doing this for years and I’m so glad we’re finally going.

A view from Pigeon Top in Northern Ireland

However, when I told my son Chris about our plans the other night he expressed grave concerns about me staying with Breda and Bernadette. Chris tends to be rather critical of me (in a loving manner), but it’s not without cause. Here’s why he’s worried:

Baby squash from Babies Ideas
This is how I still react to squash. Pic from Babies Ideas – thanks.

The bad news is that I’m an extremely picky eater. I have the palate of a cranky kindergartner. I wish I could tell you that I bravely suck it up and eat whatever is put before me whether I like it or not. But, no. No. I can’t do it. I think the years growing up when we had to sit at the kitchen table and finish a meal no matter what had an impact. I couldn’t quite understand the correlation between my dad having to eat ketchup sandwiches during the Depression and me gagging on liver and onions in 1958, but the logic was there somewhere, I guess. Wasting food, starving children in China, etc. Plus, Dad was a big and kind of scary guy when he was angry.

Usually I can hide my food phobias thanks to the variety of menu choices on offer when dining out. In the privacy of our homes, my close friends and family know which foods I won’t eat and, to be fair, my sister and brother are at least as picky as I am. Maybe worse. Planning a meal for a big family dinner is fraught with culinary land mines. Nothing made with milk for Bob. Nothing orange and mushy for Kate. Make sure Mom’s and Penny’s meat shows not one hint of pink. That’s just the beginning.

We like to think we’re normal, but my Chris is not afraid to laugh and point out that we’re not. After my own experience growing up, I decided not to force young Chris to eat things he didn’t like. As a result, he was never afraid to try new foods and now eats just about everything. I think it’s safe to say that his adventuresome palate is due in no small part to my enlightened parenting skills. (You’re welcome, Chris. Now stop making fun of me.)

Baby eggs New Kids Center
Eggs for breakfast? Oh nooooooo! Pic from New Kids Center – thanks.

Anyway, now I’m worried, too. That’s why I’m writing today. I am outing myself, admitting to everything I won’t eat. I’ll share this post with Bernadette and ask her to pass it along to my unsuspecting host, Breda. Here’s the deal, dear ladies – I decided it may be wiser to embarrass myself up front rather than sit at your table in October trying to figure out how to explain why I can’t eat a lovely meal that any normal person would enjoy.

It’s not you. It’s me. Boy, is it me. So here we go with the foods I won’t/can’t eat:

  • Eggs – in any shape or form. That’s right – not fried, scrambled, poached, hard-boiled – nothing. Eeuw.
  • Paul and Mary
    Dear ones, do you watch Paul and Mary on the Great British Baking Show? I love them. They would be ashamed of me. So ashamed.


  • Anything orange and mushy, which includes cooked squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yams, etc.
  • Bananas (that includes banana bread, or any other baked good with bananas)
  • Asparagus
  • Liver
  • I love mild white fish like cod and halibut, but no salmon, mackerel, herring, etc.
  • Oysters (do I get points for loving octopus, though?)

I think that covers it. Embarrassing, but there you go.  I’m too old to be coy about this, guys. When I was in Ireland about ten years ago I went with my friends to a pub to grab some lunch. I ordered a BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich) and it was served with a fried egg plopped on top of the usual ingredients. What the . . . ?! I was horrified. What kind of monster would sneak a fried egg onto an innocent BLT, I ask you?

(And on a side note, as you may have guessed, I refused to touch the blood pudding or sausage or whatever it was that accompanied a hotel’s fried breakfast, the price of which was included with a night’s stay. Most folks rub their hands with glee at the sight of a hearty Irish breakfast. I ate the toast.)

Irish breakfast
This traditional Irish breakfast would send me screaming into the woods. Are those mushrooms near that triangle thing? Aargh!

So there it is, my friends. I might add, as soon as poor Breda gets a look at me she’ll wonder that I don’t eat everything, including the kitchen sink. I am not a wispy little lass by any stretch of the imagination. This body is what happens when someone chooses the

Yes, darling Breda and Bernadette! Send me to Omagh if you must!

cheeseburger over the seasonal pumpkin soup. Pancakes instead of an omelet. A Kit Kat rather than a banana.

Other than that, I hope you’ll find me to be a pleasant enough person, dear Breda. If not, feel free to boot me toward the nearest hotel in Omagh. I promise not to throw a toddler tantrum.

24 thoughts on “Confessions of a picky palate

  1. For what it’s worth, my son is 28 and eats: grilled cheese, pizza, matzah ball soup, chicken–sometimes, bagels with cream cheese, peanut butter, and salsa with chips. Certain other food textures make him uncomfortable so he avoids them. This is what makes us all unique and makes the world go ’round.

  2. I like your “up front” approach. I think it is a great idea. I have a friend here who is as picky as I am. Our favorite thing to do when faced with food we would not dream of eating is to say “oh darn, I am allergic to that!”

    1. Thanks, Pen! I’m hoping this was the right thing to do. Dear Bernadette sent me an LOL and said she’d share this with Breda – also for me not to worry about the menu anywhere. But as my friend Pam pointed out (who also defers to the “allergy” excuse), it’s hard to say you’re allergic to orange and mushy things. A little suspect at best.

  3. You, dear Kate, are a pleasure to be around regardless of what you do or do not eat. I think a heads up to your hosts is a nice way of handling food preferences. Hope you have a blast in Ireland!

  4. I love most foods…..but I understand. And even thou I have seen your food phobias in person, I never thought they were that bad. Maybe because my Mom is now the most picky eater I have ever encountered. Just go and enjoy……eat up girly!

  5. OMG!! You just crack me up Kate… and not like you would an egg. Everybody has a food phobia of some sort. I dislike ham, but give me the scallop potatoes. I totally agree with you on blood or organ anything and oysters… pew !! Your hostess will understand I am sure of it, because what you may lack in culinary tastes you more than make up for it by being a genuinely sweet and humorous woman! Eat oat cakes, they are delicious with a good cup of tea ❤️☘️

    1. Thanks so much! But – oh, oh. I didn’t list all the organ meats I’m unwilling to eat. I hope my references to liver and blood pudding are enough to imply that I’m a bit squeamish about anything but the more mundane animal parts. You are very kind and thanks for the tip about oat cakes (do you think they’ll have coffee, though?). 🙂

    2. Yes I am sure they have . Sorry this didn’t post with my name… technically challenged I am 🤪

    1. Thanks, Ellen! Yes, eggs. It’s a long story of trauma and bullying that led to my disdain for eggs. I blame my father, RIP, who otherwise was a delightful and loving parent. (Sorry, Pop!)

  6. That’s not so bad, Kate. I didn’t see you list potatoes as a forbidden food and if the Irish folks are like me and my Irish relatives, potatoes are boss! I would pass on blood sausage, and even though I like eggs I don’t want one on my BLT! I hate bananas, too, though I can stomach banana bread, which is actually cake if we are honest about it. And cake is one of my favorites. I think you are going to do just fine in Ireland!

    1. Thanks, Molly! Yes, I’m all about white potatoes cooked in any way (without mushrooms or eggs or anything on my list of inedibles, of course). I’ll even eat very crispy sweet potato fries, but then, I’d eat fried cardboard. As for banana bread? I can smell a banana bread or muffin trying to disguise itself as an appealing baked good a mile away. Yuck.

  7. Especially love the ending. You don’t seem that picky to me. My stepmother won’t eat anything that swims or flies, nothing green except Iceberg lettuce, no potatoes. Yes, hard to cook meals for them. Because I love to cook, my writing group used to come for dinner once a month, but the no cucumbers for this one, no curry for that one, no melon, no fish . . . After five years of this, I said, “Let’s order pizza.”

    1. Thanks, Sandy! Pizza can be a safe choice. But the toppings. Oy! In my family we usually end up with one cheese and one pepperoni. As picky as I am, those are the most boring damn pizzas imaginable.

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