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Food Policy Council: Scary Food?

Thoughts from Our October 2021 Meetings

The Food Policy Council has various teams joining together regularly to work on our many projects. At those meetings, we sometimes use check-ins to get to know each other better and share our connections to food.

While we are well aware that one person's delicacy is another person's "disgusting!" (we have a food anthropologist on staff, after all), we also know that everyone has personal preferences and aversions when it comes to food. In keeping with the *spooky* season of October, we asked the attendees at some of our October meetings to

share a story about a scary, gross, intimidating, or unusual (to you) eating experience or food.

Read on for our food-related "scary stories" (more entertaining than frightening, truth be told).

Growing Pains

  • It was my earliest haunted house memory. We were trick or treating and we went to a neighbor’s house where they had a dark room where you could feel different spooky things, and they had a bowl that, I think it was cold spaghetti. And it was slimy, and I remember it still!

  • Once, when I was a young kid, my father served me headcheese. It's the head of an animal! Boiled and gelatinous. And the way he cackled!

  • Chicken livers. My father’s a good cook, and there aren’t many foods I don’t eat, but I still don’t eat chicken livers

  • My mother’s meatloaf was awful. It was the ketchup she poured on top! It was too much for my palate at that young age. It was just too much of a party. I couldn’t handle it.

  • When I was younger, I thought I’d be really nice and make my family some cookies. The recipe called for two teaspoons of salt, but I added two cups of salt, and then fed it to my family!

Not So Fun-gi

  • Mushrooms. I was vegetarian for a while, but I still wouldn’t eat mushrooms. I just thought it was spores bursting out inside of you. But eventually I ended up eating them, and now I think they’re fine.

  • I used to not like mushrooms either. I used to not like a lot of things, actually. Here’s one: spaghetti. I thought it was slimy and weird. But now I like it. I must have had a sensory thing.

  • For me, I still hate mushrooms, but Brussels sprouts is probably the one I used to not like, and then started to like. I finally had them roasted, and I think that was what changed it for me.

Chicken Nightmares

  • It was when I was going from the 5th grade to the 6th grade, that summer. I on a farm and my grandparents raised chickens. We were going to “put the chickens up,” and I didn’t know what exactly that meant...until I saw my mom pick up the axe.

  • Speaking of chickens: my brother had to chase a chicken around the yard for 20 minutes, but he eventually did catch it, and when he did, it was too tough to eat. He gave it to the dog, but I never butchered anything myself after that.

  • One time someone brought in a vegan chicken noodle soup to share at work...with no chickens or noodles. It was good, but...not chicken noodle soup!

  • My boyfriend’s old roommates would fail every food safety test. They would leave stuff out all the time on the counter. They left the Thanksgiving turkey out for three days in the sink to defrost. Then another time they left the chicken they made out on the counter for a day or two, and we walked by and saw it was completely raw. They ate raw chicken!

A Lot to Lose

  • It was at the Extension Homemakers Annual Meeting. It was my first one, when I was a new agent, and I was told to order the ham for the event. I called to order, and they were going to deliver it. This was two weeks before the meeting. Then a couple hours before the event, I was with the coordinator, and the store calls, and they said, “We’re so sorry. The manager had a heart attack. We just ran across this note, and we’re so sorry, but we don’t have your ham." Then we called around frantically, and we finally got ahold of another person, who said, “We have this ham you can have, but it’s just out of the oven.” So the husband of this person delivers the ham, and it’s still steaming! And all the attendees are filing in with side dishes to share, so we stick the husband in a utilities closet to carve this steaming ham. Then the doors burst open, and we had no idea what’s going on, or if it's going to be a total disaster. But by the end of the meeting, there was only one slice of ham left!

  • In 2019, there was a Christmas party, and my dad and I had been bragging all day about my mom’s mac and cheese recipe, and how amazing it was, and how I could make it perfectly. But then when I was making it, I thought, "Oh, this is my chance to lead by being healthy," so I used skim milk. When it came out of the oven, and we tasted it, that’s when I realized: you need that fat.

  • I think it was bad bok choi, and needless to say, it was not pleasant. A homecooked meal gone wrong at three o’clock in the morning. And I don’t think I will eat it again for years to come. That’s called food poisoning...and then acquired taste aversion.

  • It was my first time as a lobbyist, lobbying for independent colleges, and I was in Washington, DC, with my boss at this fantastic sushi restaurant. And he was experienced with sushi, so he ordered the chef’s special, where you get a selection of different dishes. I ate everything except for this last piece. I was just starting out in this job, and he was pushing me to try everything, so I really would have had to be bold to refuse. So finally I ate this last piece. It was the texture of apple butter, and it was so gross. It was sea urchin. Ever since, I’ve had an aversion to sea urchin...and to apple butter, too.

Dairy Gone Wrong

  • The worst thing I ever ate was garlic-flavored soft serve ice cream at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. Thank goodness it was a small taster cone!

  • I was in line at McDonald’s with a few friends, and it was after dinner. We wanted something sweet, so we decided to order milkshakes, and my personal preference is vanilla. Well, the McDonald’s soft serve machine was out of order! And that was my nightmare.

  • We were out to dinner, and my daughter, who is three, wasn’t drinking her milk. And she always drinks her milk, so I didn’t know what was going on. Finally, I tried it, and it was so spoiled. So that was a good reminder not to force your kids to eat things!


What's the "scariest" food experience you've had? Did you ever try that food again? Share this post on social media with your response and tag Green Umbrella!


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