Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Bilyeu


Picky eating at its finest



I‘‍ve warned him it was coming.

I’‍ve threatened, I‘‍ve joked, I’‍ve promised.

And today is the day: the day that my boyfriend, Craig, gets his own column.

Because Craig is a picky eater, the bane of my existence.

The man won‘‍t eat peas, except under duress. He doesn’‍t like cooked vegetables, but will eat them raw with dip. But only certain vegetables; God forbid we should put a beautiful colored pepper into the mix, because those just contaminate their neighbors.

He announced one morning, as I was drooling over a photo of biscuits and making plans to bake, “You know, I‘‍m not much into biscuits ....” He doesn’‍t like the baking powder-y, salty flavor that he claims is pervasive.

He also doesn‘‍t like chocolate ice cream. Or mayonnaise. Or fried eggs. Or yolks in general, unless they’‍re mixed into cooked-to-dry-death scrambled eggs.

Craig‘‍s late mother placed a curse upon him when he was young and was busily dissecting and deconstructing the dinners she placed in front of him. She used to say that she hoped he, too, found himself trying to feed picky eaters some day.

Oh, the power that woman had. Because Craig’‍s two now-grown children used to frustrate him, in return for how he tormented his own mother. The family would go to Chinese restaurants and order lo mein with no vegetables and no protein, just noodles; the kids wouldn‘‍t eat it otherwise. Craig would go to McDonald’‍s and order burgers for his kids that were nothing but the bun and melted cheese. Yup, burgers without the burger.

Craig refuses to eat anything but boneless, skinless chicken breasts; and then he methodically trims off every single bit of schmutz on them with the precision of a vascular surgeon. To some extent, this is OK. A wise friend of mine once told me to find a man who wasn’‍t 100 percent compatible, even using chicken preferences as an example. She told me to find someone complementary, so that one could eat his preferred portion of the meat while the other ate hers without competing with each other. Since I prefer thighs, and will eat virtually any part of a chicken, this works out well for us.

But the parts Craig prefers are, of course, the most expensive. And the driest. And the least flavorful. Did I note that they cost a lot more, too?

There is maybe a 10-minute window for bananas to be considered perfect. Craig wants them to still have some green on them, which to me means they‘‍re not ripe yet. Some speckling — like when a fair-skinned girl first goes out into the late Spring sunshine and her nose gets freckled — indicates perfection. Nope. If Craig misses the precise window by even 4 minutes, suddenly all the bananas become mine to eat and or bake. If he takes a bite and finds the bananas have gotten past his personal expiration date, he can barely even swallow.

Craig doesn’‍t like grapefruit. Or sweet potatoes. Or tuna casserole. Or lox. Oy, a nice Jewish boy who doesn‘‍t eat lox!

Most of the time, we laugh about all of this. It’‍s so absurd, after all, and he does know that it‘‍s him, not me. But there are also times when I meander through the grocery store thinking how I’‍d love to make this dish or try that recipe, only to remember that there‘‍s some banned food item involved. Then I get frustrated and disappointed.

Much to his credit, Craig will at least try almost anything. Sometimes (often?) reluctantly, but he will try. I’‍ve managed to persuade him of the charms of rhubarb. And Craig is now a fan of blue cheese. Of course, I strategically persuaded him by combining it with bacon on a pizza, blending it with two of his favorite foods. Who could resist?

Craig will also eat calamari and sushi and tofu, items which will never be on my “nice” list.

So, I guess we make a pair, huh? The woman who obsesses about food and her boyfriend, the obsessively picky eater.

Contact Mary Bilyeu at
 or 419-724-6155 or on Twitter @foodfloozie.

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