Read Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater's Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic Online


As a child Stephanie Lucianovic lived for years on grilled cheese and created an elaborate system for disposing of revolting food involving bookshelves, holiday centerpieces, and, later, boyfriends. She agonized not over meeting her future in-laws, but over the peaches they served her. As an adult, this picky eater found herself in the most unlikely of circumstances: a graAs a child Stephanie Lucianovic lived for years on grilled cheese and created an elaborate system for disposing of revolting food involving bookshelves, holiday centerpieces, and, later, boyfriends. She agonized not over meeting her future in-laws, but over the peaches they served her. As an adult, this picky eater found herself in the most unlikely of circumstances: a graduate of culinary school who became a cheesemonger and then a food writer. Along the way, she realized just how common her plight was. It wasn’t surprising to discover that picky eating is an issue for millions of kids, but who knew there are even support groups for adults who can’t overcome it? Yet remarkably little is known about the science of picky eating, and cultural and historical questions abound. Are picky eaters destined to ascend to a higher plane of existence, and what happens when picky eaters fall in love or go to restaurants? How can you tell if you’re a “supertaster”? How does the gag reflex affect pickiness (and what secrets do sword swallowers impart to help overcome it)? Suffering Succotash is a wide-angle look into the world of picky eating, told by a writer who’s been in the culinary trenches. With wit and charm, through visits to laboratories specializing in genetic analysis, attempts to infiltrate the inner workings of a “feeding” clinic, and interviews with fellow picky eaters and adventurous foodies young and old, Stephanie explores her own food phobias and gets to the bottom of what repulses us about certain foods, what it really means to be a picky eater, and what we can do about it....

Title : Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater's Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780399537509
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater's Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate Reviews

  • Pamela Ribon
    2020-01-13 11:37

    Fans of Mary Roach will enjoy Stephanie Lucianovic's exploration into why some of us are such picky eaters. As a non picky-eater, reading this often gave me just as much anxiety as the one having the problems eating. "JUST TRY IT. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, IT'S A WEIRD TEXTURE? IT'S JUST A RAISIN, CALM DOWN. PEOPLE ARE STARVING, SO EAT THIS MEAL I MADE YOU FOR FREE, YOU JERK." I'm a happy, adventurous omni-eater who once tried fried grubs at a street vendor in Bangkok, so for me Stephanie's book was like learning about an unfathomable mysterious culture -- people who actively and aggressively dislike food based on its concept or color, and not its preparation. I was raised at a table where you didn't get to leave it until you ate everything (if you got anything to eat at all), and I'm currently living in Los Angeles -- the holy city for all food issues -- so I've heard every excuse and reason to reject food from real allergies to lies about allergies to "I'm off carbs this year" to "I can't eat anything white" to vegan to semi-vegan to raw foods to only liquid foods to "I only eat out of baby food jars." I've heard them all and I'm used to every reason someone doesn't want to eat at whatever restaurant we're going to. But nothing -- NOTHING -- prepared me for the anxiety I immediately felt when I read Stephanie's suggestion for getting rid of unwanted food at a dinner party BY HIDING IT SOMEWHERE IN THE DEPTHS OF THE HOST'S BOOKSHELVES.You might as well have told me there's a 30% chance that at some point in my life, someone has hidden a piece of dog poo behind one of my Steinbecks. I'm glad I read this book, as it was fun and informative (and I even made one of the recipes the very night I finished reading), but mostly so that I know never to invite Stephanie over for dinner. For I have a lot of books in my house.

  • Stephanie Lucianovic
    2020-01-17 09:38

    Lesley Knope voted for herself, so I'm gonna, too.

  • Denise Anderson
    2020-01-13 09:28

    I loved this book...while I am not a picky eater nor do I have to contend with a child or spouse who is this was a fascinating look at those who are...certainly gave me greater understanding and sympathy where before I had none. Info presented in a thoroughly enjoyable and at times funny way.

  • John
    2020-01-02 12:28

    Really 3.5 stars, but the writing quality was high enough for the round-up.Author's background, and her research and interviews, were well-presented, although I did find them a bit bogged down in the more scientific areas (in-depth discussion of chromosomes, and such). Strongest parts focused on examples of picky eater syndrome, and how those folks function in relationships, etc. I do beg to differ that as a picky eater myself, we do spend time picking out, and otherwise avoiding, unwanted items (such as picking small celery pieces out of a cup of soup). I would like to have seen more on how picky people function, but instead she chose to present the examples of herself and her friends, who (largely) learned to eat most things they always hated. The only food that I used to outright refuse, that I can now tolerate would be cooked spinach. Then again, I never had liver until I was an adult (my parents HATED it), and I'm fine with it. Frankly, I was puzzled that she'd extol the virtue of broccoli (the mere thought of which makes me queasy), yet she goes on and on about how "evil" raisins are? Talk about misplaced priorities!I'd recommend the book for those interested in the phenomenon, though not the chapter on babies and children, with stories of parents whom I'd describe as ... overly concerned about their kids' eating habits. And, I'd certainly be interested in reading more by the author on other topics.A partial list of my own "Hell No!" items --Raw tomatoes, cucumber/pickles, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, celery, pineapple, tripe, blue cheese, green pepper.

  • Erin
    2020-01-18 04:26

    As a picky eater, maybe reformed, I loved this book. So many moments prompted "yes!" "I know!" and "that's me!" from me. As a picky eater turned foodie, Lucianovic gets it. She knows that we don't want to be the way we are, and sets about investigating why this happens to some people and not others. Even though she doesn't find a definitive answer, it seems to be some combination of biology, psychology, and parenting techniques. I never would have thought this embarrassing part of my life was biological, but I could have genetic markers that make me prefer certain tastes, flavors, and textures than others. Not to mention the other possible reasons. Parts of it read like a description of my childhood.But it isn't all grim - Lucianovic is a funny writer, especially when she compares her husband to a garbage disposal (for not sharing her picky tendencies) and coins the term Hypermomdria, the sickness new moms contract that makes them see every disease, symptom, and allergy in their child. Having read more than one smug parent facebook post, I have to admit this made me chuckle (and Lucianovic is a parent herself). I really enjoyed this book on more than one level, and look forward to more from this writer.

  • Sarah Mackey
    2020-01-05 06:24

    Rarely do I describe my state of mind upon finishing a book as "vindicated," but god, this book felt like it was written just for me. I, too, am trying to overcome a picky past to become an adventurous eater, although I am not as far down the path as Stephanie. But this book made me feel like my struggles to overcome pickiness are legitimate, and made me realize that I am not alone in this state of mind. I plan to force this on people who think being picky is a choice, because this book is insightful, funny as hell, and so, so true to my experience. Do you want to understand my relationship with food? Read this.

  • Amy
    2020-01-13 11:35

    Of course I'm reading this book - I'M IN IT.

  • Jill Furedy
    2020-01-20 08:35

    A girl at work asked me if I only eat orange food. I pointed out that my peanut butter sandwich was not orange, just the chips and crackers I usually snack on, plus my usual drink of Sunkist. I did admit that orange foods taste best, and green foods are usually repellant. Another coworker used to comment that I ate like her 5 year old daughter. Can't argue there. As long as there is pasta, chicken or beef on the menu I'm usually okay for restaurants and dinner parties. But every now and then I get on a kick where I'd like to eat like an "adult". So I may have to buy this book for inspiration (it was a library book during this first read).The author manages to make this amusing as well as give us some science, some psychology and tell a little of her own story, while exploring many variations on the problems and solutions to picky eating. I too have wondered about the super taster thing, and found myself nodding along to texture issues. Totally agreed that bacon was the best meat for picky eaters, but disagreed that potatoes are a safe bet. Took me years to accept french fries as a side dish (but had to get something with my meals...they already give me funny looks when I turn down both soup and salad that come with many entrees) and in the past couple years decided I could eat mashed potatoes as long as they are garlic & cheese flavored. The sword swallowing stories were interesting, though I'm not sure how much it helped me (I still regularly choke on my nightly pills). The anxiety affect on eating seemed more helpful, though I'm not altogether sure I can apply that to myself by force. Anyway, the point being that I could relate to a lot of her anecdotes, though not all, and so hold out hope that I can learn to enjoy a few more foods. Though my bout of complications with Crohn's only adds to my excuses why I cannot eat certain foods (really limited right now, and feeling like it's karmic justice that I'm now restricted to eating a small selection of foods I would normally choose over fruits, veggies and meats anyway, but now find myself tiring of them and wishing for some variety!). This combined with some of the stories out there about the evils of sugar and processed foods, etc should help motivate me to give veggies another try. (I'm trusting you about the roasting veggies options in the back of the book, Stephanie,...we'll see how I feel about you after I try them!). I will absolutely recommend this book to anyone with food issues, or kids with food issues, or anyone who feels the need to comment on my food issues!

  • Catherine Shattuck
    2020-01-01 08:23

    I'll be honest -- I didn't think picky eating sounded like a very interesting topic when I bought this book. BUT, the author is a friend of mine, so naturally I wanted to read it anyway. OHMYGOD! Picking eating is FASCINATING! Or, at least it is when Stephanie is writing about it. I started smiling on page 4. I laughed out loud for the first of *many* times on page 17. Stephanie took what could have been a dry subject -- the science and psychology behind picky eating -- and turned it into a riveting page turner full of funny ripostes, insightful anecdotes and I-never-thought-of-that-but-it-totally-makes-sense! connections, and ultimately delivered a memoir-ish tale that had me howling with laughter and aha-ing with ephiphanies all over the place (so *that's* why I gag every time I take my giant probiotic horse pill, even before it gets to my mouth!). The fact that she makes the science behind it all both entertaining and easy to understand is a sign of her talent. Also, she interviews sword swallowers. !!!While I adore my friend Stephanie and her over-anxious ways, her husband Mark was definitely the sleeper star of the book. His tendency to overthink everything in a way only someone with a PhD in Mathematics could was portrayed hilariously, and his inclusion (perhaps his very self?) is pure genius.Some of my favorite parts include:- the footnotes, which I typically loathe, but which unfailingly made me giggle, especially the one about the farting Hobbit;- the faux bodice-ripping introduction to the chapter on falling in love with a picky eater;- learning the difference between taste and flavor;- the way Stephanie's own nail-biting personality is woven throughout the book; this feels like HER book, a book no one else could have written, and I saw and heard her on every page;- the Picky Eater's Survival Guide to a Dinner Party, which had me in stitches; - the many references to everything from Star Trek to A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman (one of my all-time favorite books) to 19th century manners (written in 19th century prose, naturally, replete with "prithee"s and "t'werent"s; - the inclusion of recipes at the end to help make things like okra, broccoli and Brussels sprouts palatable to the picky.I read this book cover to cover in less than 4 hours. I plan to read it again soon; it was that good. And, it made me think differently about picky eaters. A job very well done.

  • Nanita
    2020-01-27 12:16

    I thought for a while whether I should be up-front about the fact that I am a friend of this author and I've finally concluded that it would feel too duplicitous to not divulge this. But, I will add that while I have many friends who have published books, I rarely publicly review their books. I am making an exception here because if I didn't know Stephanie, I'd have scrambled to write a review immediately after finishing the book and so why should I not?First, it's a really quick read. If not for a house guest who showed up the day the book arrived, and expected me to actually hang out with him for the few days he was visiting, I'd have finished the book the day I received it. It's engaging from the first page, and had me laughing out loud while learning a lot chapter after chapter. I am not a picky eater (aside from not eating meat) and admit that I often have rolled my eyes at picky eaters; I thought they were limiting themselves unduly, and were actually boring in their inability to expand their palate! I had absolutely no grasp of the physiological aspects of their revulsion and the agony they can suffer just by thinking of certain foods. Reading about the embarrassment (and shame) that selective eaters feel about their food preferences elicited my compassion instead of contempt. I have a new-found sympathy for people who suffer from this, and will not be rolling my eyes in exasperation at them anymore. I am actually grateful that someone wrote this book; it's just a bonus that it's someone as funny, thoughtful, and smart as Stephanie who did write it. The author includes some recipes for selective eaters to try, and tips for restaurant dining, being a gracious guest, etc. One change I am immediately employing - when I throw parties, I am definitely going to be asking not just about food allergies (which I already did), but also about preferences. If I can be a better host by not serving items that cause my guests to suffer embarrassment or revulsion, I'm all for it!

  • Joy
    2020-01-25 12:37

    Why are picky eaters so picky? Why do many of them stay that way into adulthood? Is it really a "moral" failing of some sort, as most people assume, or is there something more to the topic? The author, a self-identified picky eater, sets out in this book to find the roots and causes of picky eating in a quest to define her own. Along the way she investigates possible physical causes (supertasting, sensory issues), upbringing effects (clean plates, "try three bites," etc.), social anxieties (can't eat out, embarrassed to turn something down), and mental/emotional issues (food as love, emotional eating). The answer isn't easy for any of them, and despite the research being done there still isn't a clear answer.As a picky eater myself, I found the subject rather interesting. Unlike the author, I am in fact a tested and proven supertaster, who finds dark greens to taste poisonous and orange juice to taste like acid, which makes eating many things a challenge to me. Again unlike the author, however, I have not been as successful in expanding my palate of foods, such as still being unable to eat fish despite trying a bite from every seafood dinner my husband has ordered when we eat out. I might now have a few insights and new things to try, however, such as the author's tendency to request her friends to tell her "the best way to prepare X" so she has the best opportunity when trying X for the first time.The writing is very well done and edited, and the author's voice is very funny while still being clear about her topic. Some of her descriptions of the science she was involved in while visiting a lab made me cringe (as a scientist myself), but there was nothing technically wrong and they are probably very accessible for a non-scientist to understand. I think anyone who would like to understand picky eaters (whether themselves, their children, or their friends) would do well to read this book, as well as anyone interested in the science of why picky eaters exist.

  • Kathryn
    2020-01-12 09:34

    Suffering Succotash (what a great title!) is a funny and informative book. The author uses stories from her life as a picky eater and her quest to gather information on picky eating to weave together a coherent narrative of the latest research on eating. It's really quite skillfully done - and quite entertaining, too!Lucianovic covers research on taste, the idea of "supertasters", sensitivity to certain foods (I am utterly convinced that I am a "taster" for whatever that bitter stuff is, because broccoli is SO BITTER to me. And let's not even get started on cream cheese, which tastes like something died in your mouth), strategies for parents to use with young picky eaters, and even advice - some serious, some preposterous - for adult picky eaters to avoid embarrassing themselves at their friends' dinner parties. (Claiming you're allergic is not a good idea; it does a great disservice to people who truly are.)If you are or were a picky eater or if you raised or married one, you will get a lot of enjoyment out of this book. There's also a lot of interesting information as well. I definitely recommend it.(Foods I won't eat: tomatoes, mashed potatoes [but mashed sweet potatoes, with plenty of butter and cinnamon, are yummy], anything black, anything avocado green, anything with the word "pepper" in its name [bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, habanero pepper, whatever. The one exception is red pepper as a spice], anything that contains vinegar, 95% of the condiment aisle, Chinese food [or, indeed, any kind of "ethnic" food other than Italian or Tex-Mex], anything with more than four legs or fewer than two [the only exceptions are shrimp, certain specific fishes, and New England-style clam chowder], cream cheese, sushi, raw meat of any kind, anything that describes itself as "cheese food" or "a cheese food product"...You get the idea.)

  • Desiree
    2020-01-14 06:32

    What a great topic to explore. Extremely funny and well-written (with a few exceptions where the funny delves too far into cheesy, but not many). To paraphrase one of the source articles, this book took away my smug.Seriously, people who don't eat vegetables aren't just stubborn/stupid/irritating? Silly me. My boyfriend's aversion to "soft or stinky" cheese is normal?Then again, it made me reflect on what a "picky" eater I am, being averse to bivalve shellfish (which have made me retch on more than one occasion, although I can down full tins of smoked oysters oddly enough), lamb and other unusual meats, meat in general actually (I will eat it but am always suspicious of bits and rawness), mayonnaise, eggplant, and a few of the "vegetables" ending in "ip" and "baga."...Nothing like this, though.Fascinating shite, folks!

  • Sara
    2019-12-27 06:37

    Warning: only read this book in public if you are ok with laughing loudly about every other page and attracting a few odd stares. I read this book on the train from Boston to New York and couldn't help myself. Picky eating might not sound like the funniest of subjects, but Stephanie's writing and personal observations about her own quest to understand her picky origins is a riot. If you've ever read anything by Mary Roach, then the mix of science/research with humour and personality will appeal to you, as will the lengths the author will go to in the name of research, including dying her tongue blue. A joy to read!

  • Fishface
    2020-01-01 11:22

    A fast, fun read about the thousands of people out there who can't face certain foods. The author really does not go far enough, in my opinion, in finding out why people have such a horror of certain foods. After agonizing for months and paying hundreds of dollars to get her DNA analyzed, she gets no results at all -- then totally ignores the glaring evidence that she has a sensory issue that she has been successfully addressing with everyday, ordinary CBT. By the way, the succotash pictured on the cover of the book tells me everything I need to know about why she can't face this delicacy -- her mother was feeding her the kind that has PIMIENTOES, the devil's vegetable.

  • Catherine B.
    2020-01-22 09:32

    I am not as picky eater as some, but I definitely have strong reactions to some foods. [email protected]$!#@ As a child, I was an extremely picky eater and now outgrown 97% of it, but if this book had existed and my mom read it, she may have changed her strategies. I appreciate that Stephanie Lucianovic went to so mush trouble to explain the what, when, why and how of picky eating and introduced me to the concept of supertasters. Her use of herself and others as examples is done with great humor that makes this book a joy to read.If you are a picky eater, know one or wonder what the heck, then you should read this book!

  • Carol
    2020-01-07 05:16

    What a fun book! I know... a book about picky eating is fun? It is!! Despite being a really good cook, there are foods I really dislike and have felt like I had to hide the aversions/dislikes from friends. This book helped me realize I'm not alone, and it's TOTALLY NORMAL to have food aversions for no particular reason. Or, for a reason. There is some science behind picky eating -- and I found those sections really, really interesting. This was a really great read -- I think you'll enjoy it!

  • Robynn
    2020-01-25 09:35

    Are you a picky eater? Do you know a picky eater? Have you ever eaten a meal? If you said yes to any of those questions then you'll find Stephanie Lucianovic's book hilarious. Why anyone likes or hates any kind of food is baffling even to the taste and flavor scientists out there studying the issue. As with most topics in life, whether we understand them or not, we should always laugh about them and Stephanie Lucianovic provides a lot of laughter here.

  • Millicent
    2020-01-09 08:17

    Such a good book: informative--chock full of information about our responses to & likes/dislikes of certain foods. This should be required reading for parents-to-be so they can worry about one less thing when their toddler starts eating. It is written with great humor, & the footnotes almost steal the show! My favorite chapter was "Love and the Picky Eater"---so much fun to read!

  • Jeff Shattuck
    2020-01-24 12:16

    I started this book because a friend of mine wrote it. I finished it because it's great. Truly, picky eating is not something I had ever thought about or been interested in even, but this book hooked me with its humor and fine blend of story telling and science. Even if you're a human garbage disposal, as I am (save for wine, there I'm a bit of a snob) you will like this book.

  • Thom
    2020-01-09 07:39

    Finished this book in two nights of reading, and yes it was that good. Lots of research, some real science, and a good dollop of humor on a subject that is directly interesting to me and (apparently) plenty of others. I especially enjoyed the conversation with the restaurant people. Great title, but (minor nitpick) nobody actually suffers succotash in the course of the book. Recommended!

  • Spook Harrison
    2020-01-15 09:17

    Really, really good. A very clear voice, solid information, and an entertaining read. If you like Jen Lancaster's books you'll like this one. Furthermore, I feel more empathy for the 'particular' eaters in my family now!

  • Tracey
    2020-01-27 08:14

    Really enjoyed this. I also discovered that, for all my parents thought I was so very, very picky, they had no idea what levels of pickiness they could have had to deal with. Turns out that not liking mayo is pretty darn normal.

  • Kim Reed
    2020-01-02 12:18

    Stephanie is a friend but I never knew about her picky eating past. As a mom to toddlers, this book helped me feel okay about not forcing them to eat things they don't like, and know that eventually they either will or won't eat a variety of foods, but either way, it's okay.

  • Joy Alferness
    2019-12-29 09:17

    Now admittedly, I am biased because the author is a friend, but I loved this book. It brings such clarity to an issue (picky eating) that affects so many people in one way or another. I recommend it without hesitation!

  • Cori
    2020-01-27 05:14

    My hatred of peppers is vindicated! Stand picky, stand proud!

  • Sue
    2019-12-29 11:37

    This book was more memoir about the author's search to find out if she really was a picky eater. She is more focused on why SHE hates the foods SHE hates than on why WE hate the foods WE hate. I don't know any more about picky eaters than I did before I read the book.

  • Amanda
    2020-01-21 05:29

    Interesting look into the world of picky eating. (I am whatever the opposite of a picky eater is.) I didn’t know what exactly to expect from this, and I enjoyed that there is just as much fact-based research in this book as anecdotes. It was thoughtful, at times mildly humorous, and fast-paced.

  • Heather
    2020-01-18 12:13

    There was some good information, but it was mostly the author trying to prove that she used to be a picky eater.

  • Darren
    2020-01-05 06:27

    As a picky eater married to a picky eater this book was a revelation in a number of ways. First, it was nice to read scientists from different disciplines tell the author, repeatedly, that people who dislike foods don't dislike them by choice, but by biology. Whether it is because someone is an over-taster, and under-taster, mouth-feel and texture, smell or inability to smell, it is neither a choice nor an immaturity that makes an adult a picky eater.That said, the author spent a lot of time, too much in my opinion, on her personal conversion to non-picky eater, and though she touched on it. It was interesting to read about many chefs that went from selective eaters to less selective, but at times it felt a little too enthusiastically preachy; picky eaters who learn to cook will stop being picky eaters. The author has a very pleasant and incredibly witty writing style and she is willing to poke fun at her foibles. This made for a really fun read, though at times the pacing of the humor was a little too rushed. There were sections of the book where the pacing of the first-person humor would have been perfect for a blog post of 500 to 750 words, it read as a little bit jokey - a bit like reading a stand-up routine - within longer chapters.All in all a great book for picky eaters who want to know why they dislike tastes that other people rave about, and for foodies who want to understand taste a little better. I imagine I will revisit in a couple years to see if it changed my appreciation of taste.