• Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
sunshine & unicorns: a blog about love, learning, and life in the upper midwest

18 February 2010

on having a husband who doesn't like food

Ok, the title is just a wee bit misleading. Pink Hubby does like food. I've been struggling with how to write this post for many months now though: I don't want the post to feel like I am attacking him. If there's anyone in the world who doesn't deserve to be attacked, it's him. But anyway. He told me I should go ahead and write this post. This post is about me, my husband, and our (very different) tastes in food.

A lot of women complain about this phenomenon. Generally it's the 'fru-fru' foods men are wary of. Seafoods, wraps, salads, that kind of thing. The quick-fix seems to be pastas, meatloafs, stews and casseroles. ALL MEN like that kind of food, right?

Example of a food Pink Hubby will not eat. [source]

Let me take you back to the beginning of mine and Pink Hubby's relationship, when he and I had first moved in to the same apartment. Previous to this time, he and I had mainly only eaten out for our meals together. And even further previous to this time, my ex and I had begun to relish in "foodie-ness," buying cookbooks and experimenting with all sorts of interesting cuisine. (You can't *buy* Thai food in Grand Forks, so you better learn to make it!)

Anyway, the point is that by the time Pink Hubby and I moved in together, I had acquired what I thought were some pretty mad skillz in the kitchen. So I made him some sort of meal. I can't remember what it was, but it was something I really liked - a recipe I was proud of. And... he didn't like it. It wasn't just the flavor he didn't like, either. He didn't like the ingredients, the texture, or the fact that the different ingredients were mixed together.

Turned out, he had basically three food groups: Blue Box Mac & Cheese, Takeout beef tacos, and Twix bars.


Hmm, OK. Blue Box. I tried making him some REAL macaroni and cheese (like my mama used to make), and the reception was lukewarm. It wasn't as good as the Kraft. He ate like four bites and said it was 'ok'. I tried making the Kraft and sneaking real cheese into it... and he didn't like that either. It didn't taste right.

A lot of you out there are thinking: "why bother?" Right? I have read about and known a lot of women who will just cook a meal, and their husband has to eat it or else he'll go hungry. Well, my Pink Hubby won't be forced to eat anything he doesn't want to. If he didn't like the food I made, and if I were to tell him to eat it anyway, he would just order himself some takeout. Not exactly cost-effective, or healthy.

This is just a peek at what has been over 2 years' worth of learning experiences, frustrations, and pushing his boundaries, food-wise (while still providing us both with things we like to eat).

Here are a few examples of things Pink Hubby doesn't like particularly well.
  • "Soft" meats (e.g. Meatballs, meatloaf, a thick hamburger)
  • Pasta of any kind (unless it came in the Blue Box)
  • Most cooked vegetables
  • Different textures mixed together (i.e. chunky soup/stew, casseroles)
  • Creamy soups (let's face it: cheapo top ramen is really the only soup he loves.)
  • Anything other than the traditional meats and cheese on his pizza (and he often picks some of the sausage off).
  • Anything cooked in alcoholic beverage
  • Alcoholic beverages, period.
  • Rice (unless it's fried, from a few select restaurants, and he picks out all of the non-rice components)
  • Thickly-sliced or flavored bread (this includes wheat bread, rosemary bread, etc.)
  • Butter
  • Salad containing anything more than lettuce and [very] finely-shredded carrots
  • Most seafood dishes
  • Pretty much any dip aside from the occasional plain cheese dip, ranch for his broccoli/carrots, or a specific few types of salsa, but in those cases he will not eat the chunks in the salsa.
  • [...I could go on for half the day...]

Example of another food Pink Hubby will not eat. [source]

So... he's just a little bit picky. What does this leave for us to eat? Well, for one thing, it hasn't stopped me from cooking some of the stuff above. Most of the dishes I make in the crockpot are stew-like texture. And sometimes he likes it, sometimes he doesn't. Usually, he'll make an effort to eat it, even if that means he has to pick through it, eating the meat first, then the potato, then the carrot, then some of the broth. He knows I try to find recipes we'll both enjoy, and he tries to like what I make. At the end of a meal in which I have tried a new recipe, I will often ask "would you eat it again?" If the answer is yes -- even a reserved yes -- I feel I have emerged victorious.

Consumption probability: doubtful. [source]

One of the things I miss most is pasta. I really love pasta dishes. White sauces, red sauces, vodka sauces, real macaroni and cheese. I feel that I have made leaps and bounds, food-tolerance-wise with Pink Hubby, but pasta is still on the back burner. I'm pretty sure it's psychological. He says pasta and rice fill him up too much, but has no problem eating (for example) a whole large fried rice from a restaurant by himself.

I mentioned earlier that I like to push his boundaries. For example, he likes an Enchilada recipe my family makes. So I made Enchilada soup. He also liked that, though I believe his comment was "this would be better as burritos".

He likey! ...without the olives, and with the onions finely pureed.

He also likes takeout fried rice (as I mentioned earlier). For months, I have been working on replicating the flavor of his favorite... and I'm getting pretty good at it. He likes a particular flavor from Buffalo Wild Wings also, so I bought the sauce and I cook the chicken at home. A cost-effective compromise. He will also now eat small amounts of rice with other seasonings -- rice dishes he refused to eat a couple of years ago. Win!

I also have started putting real ingredients in to food. Onions, peppers, and garlic, for example. For a while there, I was just sticking to the powders. The key, with cooking for PHubby, is to blend the living shit out of the ingredients before adding them to the recipe. That way, he can't pick it out, and it usually cooks up soft enough that he doesn't notice the texture difference. (So if a recipe calls for diced onion, you better believe I actually put that onion through the food processor on "high" for several minutes.)

And remember my mama's macaroni and cheese? He ate a lot more of it when I added some of the signature yellow powder to the otherwise real-cheese-and-dairy ingredients.

I don't see anything on this plate that he'd eat. Maybe the potato, if it didn't have the 'green things' on/in it. [source]

So, I feel like I'm making some headway here. The biggest challenge has been walking the fine line between Food He Just Isn't Used To and Food He Really Doesn't Like. For example: he isn't used to onions, but the flavor is fine with him. On the other hand, he really doesn't like mushrooms - flavor, texture or anything about them.

I also have been trying to get us to eat more healthily. It's easy for me to get stuck in a rut of cooking burritos, pizza, and/or barbecue sausages all the time, so I need to remind myself to focus on rounded and diverse meals rather than just cooking whatever I know won't meet any resistance from my in-house food critic. But sometimes, we definitely do eat ice cream for dinner. Or Totinos Pizza rolls. Whatever's easy.

Still, I do a little happy dance every time I discover something else I can get him to eat. Bonus points if it's something he previously said he didn't like. And even MORE bonus points if the food is even halfway healthy. And as far as my own tastes? I just order my 'weird' food at restaurants, and/or cook it for myself when Pink Hubby isn't home.

I do worry about him when we go out to eat. I know it's not my issue, and he's even told me not to fret about it. But I want him to have a great meal, too! And since I grew up as a very picky child, I know what it's like to go to a restaurant and feel shitty and embarrassed because there is nothing that looks half-way edible on the menu. So I can't help but feel bad when I look at menus like this [found when scouting honeymoon locations], see at least half a dozen things I'd looooove to try... but not a single thing I could picture my dear hubby getting excited about eating (at least not without asking them to modify it). Hrm.

I can't lie: I feel a little pang of jealousy when I hear about couples who enjoy eating diverse or gourmet foods together (Example). But food isn't everything. And even though I doubt that Pink Hubby will ever become a true 'foodie', I still hold out hope for him to become a slightly more diverse eater. Leaps and bounds have been made in the years we've been together. One of these days, I swear to god, he's going to eat a tomato and like it.

Do you have a picky spouse? How do you handle your differences in tastes?