Adult Picky Eaters UK

For Picky-Eating Adults in the UK and worldwide

Ramblings on Cross-Cultural Picky Eating December 13, 2006

Filed under: General — Claire @ 3:05 pm

Just thinking about the Spicy Food aversion that many of us have, and the tendency to avoid many “foreign” cuisine foods, I can’t help wondering what picky eating people from “spicy food” countries or more exotic locations than here do, or how they experience picky eating, or indeed, whether such places actually have any picky eating adults. 

Certainly, those of you who have posted here seem to be predominantly from “Western”-type countries, the UK, the USA, Canada and Australia.  Yahoo Picky Eaters overwhelmingly displays the same pattern, in keeping with it too being an English-speaking web-site, though I do notice they have one member from Africa, and one from Asia.

I don’t think I could ever go to places like India, China or Japan for the simple reason that unless I restricted my stay to a Western-type hotel (in which case what would be the point?), I don’t think I’d find very much there that I could eat, and even then there’d be no guarantee.

So I guess the question I’m toying with is, if there are picky eaters in these places, is the pickiness manifest in the same way as, say, my picky eating (no fruit, veg, rice, spice etc), or is it applied to a separate set of foods?  We here, and at Yahoo Picky Eaters, have noticed certain broad similiarites in the foods we avoid, and I guess I’m wondering whether Picky Eating (whatever it is) is loosely food-specific, or whether the similarities observed are culturally determined. 

If Picky Eating is food-type specific, then heaven help the Indian and Asian populations of picky eaters, for whom the basic staple foods are no-go.  I would be somewhat amazed if this were the case, however – my guess would be that picky eating is more of a food neo-phobia than a fruit/veg phobia.  What do other people think?

Of course all of this idle speculation is kind of premised on the assumption that picky eating happens at all in non-western cultures.  Would be interesting to find out either way.

NB. Apologies for the grossly uk-centric way in which these thoughts have been expressed.  It’s a combination of laziness and ignorance, rather than any actual disrespect to other cultures.


10 Responses to “Ramblings on Cross-Cultural Picky Eating”

  1. matt Says:

    i had a work colleague who, when travelling to japan for business, would carry a suitcase full of mars bars as he could not eat any of the sushi type food that was offered him !

  2. Mel Says:

    That’s a very interesting point. Most people I’ve talked to aswell are either from the US, UK, Candad, Austraila or New Zealand. I would assume its there are PE’s all around the world, though. I do like some ethnic foods, specifically Asian, so I can see people in those cultures sticking to what I eat. I like noodles and chicken and rice from Asian dishes. I would think that they would stick to rice and noodles much of the time, too. As for Indian foods I’m not sure how PE’s in India do it. I don’t like anything Indian that I’m aware of. I really really dislike Curry which is a main staple in most Indian foods. I have a feeling it is less prevalent in those countries like India, China and countries in Africa because many people are in poverty in those countries and I would assume from infancy they had to eat what available or die, so they don’t develop the disorder or those who do have the disorder die in childhood.


    (I mean no disrespect to people in those countries, diddo what was said by Claire “Apologies for the grossly U.S.-centric way in which these thoughts have been expressed. It’s a combination of laziness and ignorance, rather than any actual disrespect to other cultures.”)

  3. Claire Says:

    Well, I don’t know what it’s actually like on the ground in these countries, so to speak. I guess if you can eat rice or noodles (I can’t), you’d be ok in many places.

    I’m not sure about the dying in childhood though. I refused most things and didn’t die. If you can eat the available staple food, plus one or two other things, there’s no reason it should kill you. Didn’t kill us, did it?

  4. Mel Says:

    hmmm, I don’t know, I still think that it probably causes deaths in the 3rd world. I know a lot of babies die in Africa because of a failure to thrive, which would be quite similar to our disorder because those babies refuse food and water. You and I had always had a choice of foods. Like imagine if when we were kids and all you had to eat was let say brocolli (that’s the worst veggie for me, I’ve tried it a few times because my husband would not let it go and my gag reflex was so bad I couldn’t even swallow), if you couldn’t even swallow it, as a younster you most certianly would die because of a lack of nutrition, not because you chose not to eat but because you couldn’t phsyically eat it.

    I’m sorry hun that you can’t eat noodles or rice! Thankfully, I can eat them, That’s my main source of food, rice pasta and potatos. Is it a visual, or texture? I’m just curious, because to me noodles and rice taste the same as potatos or bread and the texture of most starchy things like that don’t bother me. If the rices is too gooey I can’t eat and if the pasta is slimy or overcooked I can’t eat it either, but if its nice and dry I don’t have a problem.

  5. Claire Says:

    Hi matt! I didn’t see your comment there. I don’t know if I would go so far as to take a whole suitcase-full, but then I’ve never had to go to Japan, and I wouldn’t be able to eat sushi-type food either. I hope your colleague finds this site 🙂

  6. Doug Says:

    I’m an American who’s just moved to Taipei, Taiwan and I would love to know what Chinese picky eaters eat. I’ve mostly stuck with McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and plain white rice so far. The language barrier is a problem, too. If something looks edible, I can’t ask questions to make sure it really is what it appears to be.

    And food is so important to the Chinese. I don’t think I could ever accept a dinner invitation here. If I didn’t eat a lot, I’d be worried they might be insulted.

  7. Claire Says:

    That’s tricky. Thank heavens for multi-national fast food chains, eh?

  8. Doug Says:

    Indeed. However, I would like to travel away from the city at some point. Hopefully I’ll have found some local foods I can eat by then.

  9. Claire Says:

    Fingers crossed. Keep us posted.

  10. Charles Says:

    After living in and around multiple east asian countries for the past decade, I can tell you that I have never encountered a finicky adult who wasn’t from a western and first-world country. I believe it derives from how the children are raised. Few things are as detrimental to first-impressions with clientele than having one of your prospective trade partners “turn up his/her nose” at food being offered. Really, it’s all just in your head and either buck up and deal with the situation, or do us all a favor and self-identify yourselves beforehand, so we don’t make the mistake of using you in any capacity involving personal interaction. Because if you can’t man-up for one meal, then how can your employer expect you to have the determination to accomplish your tasks?

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