We have some freelance photographers at my job who come to shoot the art work who come all the way from Northampton, MA. They bring delicious pastries from Bread Euphoria. It is sort of ridiculous how much the Fruit and Nut scone from this place has over the last two years become a big highlight of my month. Today they brought them (as expected), and I was so excited.... except that my favorite scone seemed now to have the flavor of banana in it. I can't be sure, but that is pretty much the only food I hate. I guess you can't really taste bananas baked into things, but this faint suspicion really took away from the excitement of the scone for me. I HATE bananas to an irrational extent. In kindergarten I ate one and threw up immediately, and since then the mere scent of them can make me completely nauseous. The mushy, sticky texture, the way the smell of them takes over a room - who likes these things?? (Lots of people apparently, also they are apparently high in potassium, but whatever).
I think that some picky eaters just say they hate everything to mask anorexia. If you say you are vegan, vegetarian, or only eat say "poached skinless, boneless chicken breasts and broccoli", then that really cuts down on what you can eat especially when you are out and about. If someone says they are vegetarian and out of a whole food court can only find a single breadstick to eat, well maybe they just don't like to eat at all.
Then there is the "I was eight years old once and never learned to like anything new". I saw an episode of the show "Four Weddings" where a bride had a black-tie wedding and insisted on a plate of chicken tenders and french fries for herself, while all the guests were eating filet mignon and swordfish. I also have a coworker who could throw up at the smell of salad dressing. She claims this is true of any salad dressing, which makes me think she hates the smell of vinegar. This picky eater has the misfortune of wanting to eat like an 8 year old boy, but then also wanting to be healthy. Her idea of healthy seems to be iceberg lettuce. The other day she was eating a big bowl of iceberg lettuce. She said "I am trying to be healthy, but I don't know how anyone feels full on a salad." I said "How about a hard boiled egg on there?" "Well, I've never had a cold egg before," she says. "How about turkey or ham?" I say. "Ew, no. Well, I'd like a big steak on the side with a lot of butter." "How about spinach?" "No wouldn't like that". There we are. Then "I am probably going to be so hungry afterwards I'll have to go buy a Snickers and soda". More proof not eating much doesn't work, if she had filling yet healthy foods in her salad she wouldn't break down by three and buy a king size Snickers and sugary soda, but the only way she knows to eat is chicken tenders and french fries or hamburgers, candy bars, Coca-cola, and iceberg lettuce.
This brings us to the biggest group of picky eaters: children. I am no parent, but it seems to me that battles with children about food are usually about other things - like control. Amanda Hesser makes some good points on this issue: "Our kids will love the leftovers. And if they don’t, they’ll still eat them for supper. We take a firm but fair approach to food. This is your dinner, and it’s something interesting. Enjoy! Period." That approach can apply to adult picky eaters too - someone probably put a lot of thought and effort into making you something, who are you to not even give it a chance?
So I say unless it has bananas in it, it can't reasonably be that bad. Everyone has to draw the line somewhere.