An Eternally Crucified Picky Eater Explains All

Picky eaters, unite! A lifelong fussy eater, this writer is unapologetic about saying, “No, thank you!”

By Chuck Thompson from Outside Magazine
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine January 2014

Kang Kim

The guy in the flannel shirt really wanted me to eat his crab. “Have a claw!” he said, waving a steaming pincer in my face with tongs. “No, thanks. I’m good. You go ahead,” I said. I’ve suffered through this gastronomic showdown a million times, from Paris to Paducah, and it always ends the same way. I turn down food I don’t want to eat. At best, I offend somebody. At worst, I make a new unfriend.

The crab pusher came at me last summer at a beach party in Gustavus, Alaska, a little town on the fringes of Glacier Bay National Park. Golden sun shining off the water. Friendly locals. Cans of Rainier on ice. Alaskan king crab pulled from the frigid Pacific just hours earlier, now boiling in a giant kettle. A bighearted fisherman pulling out my prize from the pot.

“Have a claw!”

After my third refusal, the cheery offer started to sound more like a prison warden’s order to get back in line. The fisherman’s expression said, I am the executor of your once-in-a-lifetime experience. So take the claw, and we’ll both walk away happy.

Now here it was, the inevitable moment when the personal capital I’d accrued was about to get squandered with a single confession: “I don’t eat crab.” I don’t care how much butter and garlic you soak it in, that crustacean spider’s gnarled clamper is not coming anywhere near my mouth.

“Don’t eat crab?” His mariner eyes narrowed. “What the hell’s wrong with you?”

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  • Your Comments

    • DreamRose311

      I tend to be a bit behind on my RD’s, but finally got to this one recently. People will never know how difficult it can be to be on this end of the food spectrum. I have to side eye RD a bit though… Can someone explain to me why this is in the ‘funny stuff’ section?

    • Ista

      Oh, how I can relate. However, I have to say, Mr. Thompson is making this much harder on himself than he has to.
      Many years ago, I went to dinner at my boyfriend’s house. Most of what they served has never, and will never pass my lips. They were very sweet, I couldn’t hurt their feelings, so I got creative. I will admit, my boyfriend had been watching to see how I would handle the situation, as he knew of my picky eating, and the look of surprise on his face, when I explained to his parents about my “allergies” was priceless, but it was then I learned: People may not be able to understand/accept my food hang ups, but they can understand/accept allergies. They were very sympathetic, and the time we spent there quite pleasant. I ate later, on the way home.

    • Kate

      I admit I am not quite this picky, but I have always wished I could temporarily swap tastebuds with those who try to push me to eat food I don’t like so they would get it and stop bugging me. I try to at least try things just to be sure, but 90% of the time, I am right…

    • ecowgirl

      I feel like Mr. Thompson crawled inside my head and wrote this article. I love food. I dream about food. However, I love the food I choose to love… and the selection may be small, but it’s MY choice! I hate food pushers. Just because you will put literally ANYTHING into your mouth doesn’t mean I have to do the same. I am picky and proud!