During the SPAM musubi segment of what I would've expected to be the most innocuous part on the Hawaii episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, the bald and doughy Travel Channel personality admitted something that threw me in for a loop: He can't stand SPAM.
This again, I need not remind you, is the same man who has put in his mouth (among other objects) fermented shark, wriggling tree slugs, and the still-beating heart of a frog. How is it possible then that the host with the indiscriminate palate was defeated by SPAM -- that lowly, but delicious canned-meat product I consider an everyday dietary staple?
As I sat with open-mouthed disbelief at his admission and his subsequent eew-face as he forced himself to eat the SPAM, I was also curious to hear his reasoning behind the aversion. And as I expected, it was just something he grew up hating. Everyone has their food dislikes, acquired through their formative years, some sort of traumatic event, or just because they just think it tastes bad. SPAM, as it turns out, was the usually steel-stomached Zimmern's kryptonite.
So it got me thinking about all the other weird food aversions that I've personally come across with different people over the years. These revelations, of course, have lead to spirited discussions, mostly into more questions about the why's and how's, but also, pranks. I'll give you an example: After revealing that I hated black licorice, I walked into my cubicle one day to find that the substance had been taped to my telephone mouthpiece and deposited into my coffee cup. Funny, I admit.
So here are the other strange aversions that I've found out different people around me have. Feel free to share yours if you have one, (and I bet everyone has at least one).
This one's an interesting story. One friend's aversion to marshmallow is easily traced back to when he was a kid at camp. After eating smores around a campfire, he accidentally fell on his head, blacked out, and began puking out the contents of his stomach while unconscious, which included copious amounts of melted marshmallow. Ever since then, my friend couldn't stand to be near a marshmallow. He's downright phobic, actually. His cringes at the thought of its puffy texture and vanilla-like scent, as if it was fecal matter. Easter is particularly hellish for him, as Peeps are everywhere!
Two people I know share this aversion. One has it worse than the other. The one with a stronger objection can't stand anything that contains even a trace of vinegar. He'll throw away sandwiches that he deems contaminated with mayo. And condiments on a hot dog? Forget about it. He'll take his wieners plain (that sounds bad when I type it out). No mustard. No ketchup. No relish. And of course, no sauerkraut. He generally considers pickles an abomination -- unnecessary, he'd argue, because the refrigerator has already been invented.
Yet another fella I work with just hates all seafood, but particularly fish. But since he's Catholic, you can imagine what he goes through every Friday during Lent, whereupon he forces himself to eat it. I've suggested other meat substitutes like tofu, but I don't think he's so crazy about that idea either.
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This aversion, I understand, because if the circumstances that made my lovely dining companion swear off steaks happened to me, I would also say no to it. One time, a long time ago, while cutting through a rare steak, a maggot popped out and said hi to her. So now, and ever since, whenever we're at a steakhouse, she'll order the chicken or the fish while eyeing my steak nervously as I cut it.
I don't know anything about the background story on why this person (whom I met only a few times) was disgusted upon seeing that our teppanyaki chef was slicing up mushrooms for a stir-fry. But I do know that his girlfriend spent the rest of the night picking out pieces of the offending fungus from his plate with chopsticks. He didn't seem to want to touch it himself. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't some sort of allergy -- just that he really, really hates mushrooms. I am secretly hoping it has something to do with The Smurfs.