My Husband's Picky Eating Almost Made Me Not Marry Him

not liking sushiI love to eat. When I was just 5 years old, I counted lobster, chicken curry, and escargot among my favorite foods. I grew up in a world where food was an adventure and a pleasure, something to be savored. My sister was the same. After all, my world traveling (and multi-cuisine-cooking) family never would have tolerated a picky-eating child.

And then I met my husband.

When we got together at 23, he told me he didn't like a few things when it came to food. Those "things" included bananas, broccoli, most raw vegetables, sushi, brown rice, wheat bread, and mushrooms. Mushrooms! It was nearly a deal-breaker.

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The fact is we'd grown up with different values around food. My husband's family is Southern and they cooked in an old-fashioned Southern way. Fried chicken (fried everything), Crisco, potatoes 15 different ways, buttered corn, canned vegetables, and more.

His mother accommodated his pickiness by serving the various elements of his meals on separate plates. She would divide hamburgers into their parts -- a space for the bun, meat, and pickles. All dipped in ketchup.

Weird, right?

My mother was, at times, vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic, and exotic with her cooking. We ate everything from brown rice seaweed rolls to chicken Jerusalem (chicken with spices and roasted peaches) to tuna noodle casserole. I loved them all. There were no extra plates for me. Everything blended together, and I ate what was put in front of me.

So when we got together, I decided not to be his mom. And I wasn't. If I wanted to make eggplant Parmesan, his eggplant "hatred" wasn't going to stop me.

I quickly learned that what he meant when he said "I don't like that" was actually more like: "I've never tried that." It was true with everything from sushi -- he actually loves it -- to hamburgers -- "they are awesome together" -- and even eggplant.

After more than a decade of marriage with me more or less ignoring his picky eating habits, he now only "hates" two things. Bananas and mushrooms. Big win, right?

The thing is, "pickiness" in adults is really unacceptable. Especially the kind that is borne of a lack of exposure to very much. It is one thing to choose not to eat sushi when you have given it a few tries and you simply don't like it. It's another to dismiss it on sight as "gross" and then claim not to like it.

Therein lies the difference.

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I grew up believing that picky eating was synonymous with being unsophisticated and unwilling to move outside one's comfort zone. Having now produced two picky children (thanks to my husband's genes), I feel differently.

Some people simply don't like certain textures or smells (my husband will NEVER eat banana, for instance). But that is different than not liking an entire cuisine. If you go to a Japanese restaurant and can't find a single thing you can eat between the sushi, tempura, edamame, miso soup, and grilled meats, then the problem is probably you.

If you don't like tomatoes because of how they squirt in your mouth? Then, okay. One can forgive that.

It's not about being a snob, either. I don't really care how people I am not married to or not close to in any other way eat. But I do care how my husband eats because it affects our marriage. The fact that he hates broccoli (and I LOVE it) means any dish that has broccoli in it is verboten. For a woman who loves food, that is a heartbreaking truth. It could have meant no street food in Morocco when we traveled there soon after we were married or no late-night meals in Montmartre while we were in Paris.

Could I have lived without those things? I guess. Would I want to? No.

I am grateful my husband has stepped outside his comfort zone and tried new foods. Our marriage is better for it.

But, honey, if you are reading this, I am no longer sharing a sushi boat with you. You hog it. From now on, I want my own.

Was your spouse a picky eater? Are they now?


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