How to Like Food

Is there a certain food you find disgusting but wish you didn’t? Oysters? Martinis? Coffee? Something other people enjoy but that looks and tastes repulsive to you? Well, you, too, can enjoy it by following these eight simple steps. Or, if this doesn’t work, oh well, you had a few mouthfuls of food you didn’t like.

Quick backstory: I used to like nothing. I ate only cereal, pasta, and ice cream, and when I ordered a sandwich I ordered it with white bread, turkey, and mayonnaise — mustard, lettuce, and tomatoes being too freaky and exotic. Then I did this thing when I thought that [mumble, mumble, mumble — long story about falling down a culty nutritional website late one night in 2002], so I forced myself to start eating and liking vegetables. And it worked, and within a month I loved everything except for coffee, licorice, and uni, but then a couple years later I decided to like coffee and uni, so I used this method (“method” — it’s basically “eat the foods a few times,” spoiler) and now I like them. I still hate licorice, though, but I enjoy hating that.

Anyway, here’s how to do it.

1. Truly, genuinely want to like the food you don’t like. You’ll see people slurping down oysters, for example, and you’ll think, “They’re just some nasty flaps from the sea, but whenever I say I don’t like them I feel like some uncultured goon. Plus they’re so expensive, and what, I can’t appreciate expensive things? Oh yes I can!”

2. Try it. At home, in public, wherever, although if the food is at all improved by presentation/preparation/quality I’d recommend trying it with a someone who knows what a good version of it looks/smells/feels like. Most foods run the gamut from awful to fancy, so if you’re trying to break into a whole group — say, olives — start with a fancy olive that your friend recommends rather than a green one you pulled out of some ancient jar. OK, also, I know that most people like olives, and I feel a little ridiculous at this point — “put it inside your mouth and crush it up with your chompy things until it slides down the back” — but whatever. Everyone has a food they wish they liked, right? Is this whole thing idiotic? Anyway let’s keep going. You eat some of the food.

3. Oh! It’s disgusting! Drink a bunch of water/wine to wash out the taste — how can it have been even grosser than you imagined? For real, why and how are human beings designed to swallow that? That can’t be right. But it is, they do, and you still theoretically want to be one of those people, maybe.

4. A couple weeks/months later it’ll come up again organically. You’re out with friends for steak, and one of them orders bone marrow to share. Or some girl at dinner offers to split the mushroom appetizer. Enough time has passed that you don’t vividly remember how disgusting the bone marrow/mushrooms were last time, and you still want to like them, so you say, “Yes, I will share that mushroom croquette with you.” And eh, it’s pretty gross still. Not a big deal, though.

5. You come across it again a couple weeks later, and you give it a whirl. It’s not good, but it’s not awful. Oh, interesting, are you taking another bite?

6. One more time, a couple weeks later. This time you find you kind of wanted to taste it. Whaaat? Strange but true. You eat it — more than a few bites, and it’s pretty good. Nothing spectacular, but there you go. You’re officially someone who eats that food.

7. Next time you come across it, you want it. You order it. You like it.

8. For the rest of your life you love this thing, and you can never go back. (Unless something weird happens, like it gives you food poisoning, or you get pregnant and your body freaks out in unanticipated ways.) The end.

Bonus: I believe this works well with drug addiction, too. For instance, I’m perpetually on stage five with cigarettes, but I’m pretty sure I can soon break through to stage six.

Photo via Flickr