This Halloween, trade your candy for bagels and smoked salmon

Every October people ask me what my favorite candy is. And, every October, I answer: “I don’t eat sweets.

That’s not entirely true, however. I’ve never been a big fan of sweets – cookies, cakes, or candy – but I’ve been known to eat my weight in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers Bars, Cheesecake, and Donuts. frost when the moon is full and the aconite blooms.

If it’s in front of me, I’ll eat it. But if not, I won’t go looking for it. (Every year after Halloween, I tidy up all the treats that are left on my porch and bring them to the office. I can’t stand having any in the house.)

So…am I a picky eater?

And why are picky eaters so picky, anyway?

When I was a kid, I ate just about anything I was offered – something I always assumed was ethnic.

Like many Italian children, I was raised to be adventurous in the presence of palatable edibles and potent drinks. My brother was too. Although, every time we went to a restaurant, the only two things he wanted were hot dogs and ravioli.

He still ate broccoli, something I didn’t develop a taste for until my late twenties. (I also strongly hated lentils, until I was 30.)

My brother also loved coffee when he was very young. I didn’t start drinking it until I was in my thirties.

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By the age of 12, however, I was quite familiar with clams, oysters and snails. Without forgetting the hearts, livers and kidneys of chicken. And cow intestines. And, just about every fish, meat, starch, fruit and vegetable known to man.

As a result, I always get a laugh from these social media quizzes: How many of these foods have you tried?


Last time I took this quiz, I checked off everything (about 40 treats) except Nutella. And that’s only because no one ever offered it to me. (A friend’s mom made me my first peanut butter and jelly sandwich when I was in middle school. I haven’t had one since. But if you made me one…)

So, is Bill going to eat something? No.

In the 1990s, two “foods”—both tasted in New York’s Chinatown—convinced me that I wasn’t as picky as I thought.

The first was a chicken leg, which tasted like the plastic toy truck I got for my fifth birthday. After chewing it for 20 minutes I took it out of my mouth and it looked exactly the same as when I put it on.

The other item on my Just Say No list: fried jellyfish.

It was disgusting. But just looking at that amorphous blob of ick made me nauseous.

I still haven’t recovered.

Most parents expect young children to dislike certain foods, either because the foods have too sophisticated a flavor profile or, more often, because they are foods parents don’t like. not.

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When I was 16, I worked after school at Alexander. One night I came home with an exotic gift from a Jewish colleague: my first bialy, filled with cream cheese, a few chunks of Nova Scotia smoked salmon, red onions and capers.

My parents were mortified.

“Are you really going to EAT this?” asked my shocked father. “Cold fish, cream cheese and onions?” At 10 p.m.? You’ll be sick all night!

I dove in anyway, savoring every bite as they stared at me, fearful of getting seriously ill or converting to Judaism seven weeks before Christmas.

I didn’t convert, but since then I eat bagels and bialys with cream cheese and smoked salmon.


I also like goat curry, good caviar, canned corned beef hash, red licorice, Greek dolmas, Israeli shakshuka, Brazilian feijoada, dirty water franks, Filet-O sandwiches -Fish from McDonald’s and this Chinese soup made with chicken, pork, smoked duck eggs and red goji berries.

Also anything Ethiopian. Anchovy. And lots of cilantro!

I have friends who won’t go near cilantro, anchovies, mushrooms, sushi, or any other vegetable that hasn’t been drowned in cheese sauce.

Is it normal to avoid foods you’ve never tried?

It might be. Or, it could be a symptom of something called ARFID – avoidant restrictive food intake disorder.

ARFID, first recognized and named a decade ago, is a bit like anorexia, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, which notes on its website that “both disorders involve limitations in the amount and / or the types of food eaten. But unlike anorexia, ARFID does not involve any distress about body shape or size, or fear of obesity.

If you think you might have ARFID, there’s plenty of information to consume on WebMD.

Of course, if you’re just picky, I’ll gladly give you my candy, if I can have your smoked salmon.

I’ll even throw in a chicken leg.

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