Adult Picky Eaters UK

For Picky-Eating Adults in the UK and worldwide

Haggis and Similarity November 13, 2007

Filed under: My Progress,Personal Stories,Reducing Pickiness — Claire @ 3:23 pm

A dreadful thing happened to me the other day.  I had to eat haggis

Now, for those of you who don’t know, haggis is a traditional Scottish dish, which is a sheep’s stomach stuffed with the heart, liver and lungs, minced with onions, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt.  Mmm, delicious, I hear you cry.

My flatmate was cooking, and she asked if I wanted to have some with her, to which I replied that it was probably too way-out for me – she knows about my pickiness.  But I just don’t think that non-picky eaters can really understand.  Because she said “oh, but you will try some?”  Now, I don’t know what happened, but I found myself agreeing.  I didn’t want her to be offended.  And I didn’t want to seem like quite the freak that I actually am.  So I said I would try a tiny bit. 

Now, to me, trying a tiny bit means just that.  A homeopathic amount.  An ant’s mouthful.  But to my horror, I realised I had given her the go-ahead to serve me an actual portion, albeit a small one.

I was somewhat relieved, or reassured to see what it actually looked like on the plate, which was mince.  It just looked like very finely minced mince, except with black bits and white bits in it. 

So what I did, was I told myself “it’s just mince, it’s just mince, just a different type of mince”.  Because I can eat mince, you see.  And although I’d never actually eat oatmeal, the idea of it just seems very benign.  I made sure I kept any thoughts about the source of the mince right out of my head.  It took quite an effort, but in this way, I managed to actually eat it.  I did feel quite upset afterwards.  It’s not like it wasn’t an ordeal or anything.  But I managed it all without gagging.  It’s actually quite tasty.  Wouldn’t do it again though.  And I certainly couldn’t do it without plenty of potato to help it down.

What I find with trying new things, is if I can convince myself that the thing is similar enough to something I already can eat, then I might find that it’s do-able. Even if the thing is actually quite different. First time I saw Red Leicester, when I was about 6, I didn’t think I’d be able to eat it.  But then it occurred to me that in all respects apart from colour, it’s just like Cheddar.  And it worked.  I even managed the same trick as an adult when confronted with Brie at someone’s house.  Now I know there’s a world of difference between Brie and Cheddar, but by focussing on the similarities, and just thinking of it as a strongly-tasting, softer version of Cheddar, I managed it quite fine.  In fact, I rather like it.  I’ve even moved on to be able to eat Philadelphia cream cheese in the last year or so, using the same trick.  Couldn’t eat it in quantity yet, but it’s progress.


4 Responses to “Haggis and Similarity”

  1. Jack Says:

    I do give you credit for trying things, something I just can’t do.
    I too have a Haggis story only this time it is not so traumatic a recollection but a rather fun time.
    But it is also a story on how I was unable then, as is today, not able to try foods.

    It was in my younger days drinking at a bar in a country lodge.
    It turned out that it was “Robbie Burns Night” at the lodge and the locals were getting tanked and reading poems to the crowd.
    The evening was climaxed by the “eating of the Haggis” where they paraded it out of the kitchen on a platter all about the bar.
    The celebration continued as they passed the Haggis from patron to patron with the crowd loudly cheering as reluctant people took a sample, which they often gagged and spit. As I drunkenly recall; I successfully ducked into the men’s room to relive myself and of the haggis challenge, and gosh darn, by the time I returned the haggis was finished up by some very hungry macho manly-man. Oh well maybe next time….

  2. Claire Says:

    I like your story, Jack.

    I don’t think credit is due though – I wouldn’t say I chose to try it, I just got myself into a situation where I wasn’t brave or strong enough to back out. It is the social/peer-pressure thing at work.

    Having, as an adult, boundaries so weak that I get into these situations, does have, in a twisted way, an upside, in that I let myself be pushed into trying things where at all possible, horrible though it is. Sometimes it takes more gumption to stand firm and refuse than it does to exercise the extreme and delicate mind-control required to get through these eating situations.

    One time, I was invited to dinner at a friend of mine’s house. The main course was some sort of pasta which I discerned had mushrooms in it, plus other unidentifiable things. Well, I coped with that, avoiding as much as I could, but when the desert came out, it was some sort of banana chocolate thing. I took one look, and knew I’d never make it through a single mouthful, especially after what I’d already gone through. I felt bad, because she’d obviously gone to effort, but that was one of those points where I couldn’t have done it if my life depended on it.

    For me, it’s a delicate balance between a scylla and charibdis: eating these things (or pretending convincingly enough), or refusing them in a social context. Depending on the food and the situation, either one of these pressures will win out, and it isn’t always the same one.

  3. Jack Says:

    Interesting; but I honestly tell you; that I wish I was able to give in and pretend. I’m a rock and won’t budge despite the most embarassing of situations.
    I just can’t do it. Maybe if I had pretended more in my youth I could try, and things might be different, but at this point its hopeless.

    But for you – Keep on pretending, maybe someday, something will trigger a positive reaction.

  4. Robin Says:

    Awesome! Great job. Well done. I love how you talked about similarities between new food and an accepted food. That reminds me of Food Chaining (book and theory by Cheri Fraker and Mark Fishbein) that looks for foods that have like characteristics of accepted foods and uses that as a starting point to discover new foods. If you haven’t already read “Food Chaining” it could be of use to you. Sounds like you’ve naturally found that type of process to be helpful but the book can explain the concept in detail. My son, who also has sever picky eating issues, has found a lot of success through this same process. Keep up the excellent work. Brave you! I would not have tried it. Sounds gross.

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