An old boyfriend used to refer to me as being "food macho." The gnarlier the menu item, the more likely I am to order it - and it's not (just) about some misplaced culinary muscle flexing. I genuinely enjoy the funk of deliberate rot and game and un-tender animal parts. I'm the one who'll order the bowl of ox knees, duck blood or fermented catfish curry that prompts the waiter to cock his head and ask, "You know what that is, right?"
I've sifted through pig guts with my own hands, eaten numerous animal faces, am on the lookout for enough fresh sheep's blood to make Icelandic slátur and if I do ever chance upon some balut (that'd be fertilized duck egg) - down the hatch it'll go.
But plop a plate of tuna noodle casserole in front of me, and I'll start to weep, and maybe even shake a little. If it's in restaurant, I'll try and keep myself contained, but the tears may - okay, have - flowed.
In the same way that food can evoke past joy and warmth and celebration, it can trigger some extreme emotional responses, even if the ingredients aren't empirically offensive. I like tuna, noodles and all manner of casseroles. United, they render me a blubbering wretch.
I'm figuring I'm hardly alone in this. My sister, a deeply well-regarded psychologist (and lawyer and triathlete...) once had to physically remove herself from a hospital building until the last traces of an Irish beef stew odor had dissipated because it reminded her of a dish she'd loathed from childhood. Another friend cannot eat eggs at night and even Jimmy Fallon is undone by mayo after a childhood incident wherein his grandfather lathered his head to slip it from where it was lodged from a banister.
Share your tales of food-based fear and edible horrors in the comments below and we'll share our favorites in an upcoming post. We're here for you.