Service of How to Get Out of This One

May 31st, 2022

Categories: Backtracking, Food, Lies, Ugly American, White Lies

Sea urchin. Image by Take-it from Pixabay

Decades ago a Turkish friend asked me if I liked ice cream. I said I LOVE it. Turns out that in the day the local ice cream–we were stationed in southern Turkey–was not reminiscent of the kind I liked. It may have been made with goat’s milk leaving an unfamiliar aftertaste. Fruit sorbets, especially strawberry, on the other hand, were divine. Anyway, I ate it when at her house and never admitted the truth.

Years before, as a teen, a family I lived with in Switzerland for a month in summer went on lunch picnics most days. My first day my friend’s mother asked me if I liked yogurt. I said “yes” because I wanted to fit in and be no trouble. I’d never tried it and it turned out I didn’t care for the texture or taste. They ate theirs plain. I couldn’t backtrack so I stayed quiet. I love yogurt now but at the time I suffered in silence.

Today I would be honest and admit I’d never eaten sea urchin, for example, giving myself the flexibility of saying, after a taste, that it wasn’t my favorite. And I learned from my ice cream experience to waffle when asked if I like something: “Some I do; some I don’t.” And that is true. Häagen-Dazs, once delicious, has lost favor–or flavor–with and for me. However in a foreign country, not wanting to displease, I might smile and say, after trying something I disliked: “Delish but unfortunately I’m not supposed to eat too much dairy.” A 20-something, trying to duck the Ugly American image, didn’t have that option.

Have you had to eat your words? How have you expressed a change of mind once you’ve said you liked to eat something–but not the version on your plate–or have you let it go and suffered through?

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay


10 Responses to “Service of How to Get Out of This One”

  1. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Cute wordplay–“eat your words.” I’m mbarrassed to admit I’m a picky eater, thankfully less so as an adult than I was as a child, but I’d never eat anything I didn’t like for a month! I’d probably be honest when first offered something new and say “I’ll try anything once,” but confess the truth if I didn’t like it. Or if that’s not possible for whatever reason, I’d eat such a small amount it becomes obvious in any language or culture that I didn’t care for it. Being polite is great, but not to the extent one is miserable or nauseous. As the old adage says, honesty is always the best policy.

  2. Stephanie Schley Said:

    Stephanie on Facebook: I never eat (or drink) anything I do not like!

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I was never a fussy eater. I did have a tad discomfort when in a home where I was served a beer–I didn’t care for it at the time–and a shot of whiskey. I love mixed drinks, like whiskey sour, but straight whiskey–no. I lapped at the booze in the shot glass like a cat and it wouldn’t disappear. Took sips of the beer. At least I wasn’t served seconds!

  4. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: If certain veggies (zucchini, eggplant) are not prepared in a manner that I enjoy, I cannot & will not eat them.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Stephanie: Smart.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debbie: I will give foods a try that I think I dislike. I thought I disliked eggplant but loved eating it in Turkey. Same with pumpkin. A Turkish friend made candied pumpkin. Yum. In the day tomatoes in NYC tasted like chalk so I thought I didn’t care for them. In Europe they were scrumptious. Plus my taste buds have changed over years. Buffets are such a great idea for this reason.

  7. Martha T Takayama Said:

    I am not a particularly adventurous. eater although I am willing to go out with people to new places. I lived in Greece where I did not like much of the food and always tried to conceal my feelings so as not to offend. I too think I made a lot of cats in a lot outdoor restaurants called tavernas very happy slipping them bits of meat. I did nearly cause a scandal of major proportions on several occasions when both my brother-in-law’s aunt and my escort advised the whole restaurant that I was from America and definitely crazy because I asked for vinegar with my drowned-in-olive-oil salad. I suppose it is silly, but I still try to not be too vocal about my dislikes if I am in the minority, but I also manage to not order or eat things I cannot tolerate as delicately as I can. I will never forget my mother’s dear friend who took me out with a potential suitor she lined up for me in Paris who took us for North African food. We claimed allergies and I was forced to swallow food I couldn’t tolerate!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’ve written about this before but who remembers? On the military flight from Adana, Turkey to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, we met an American MD who lived on a US Army base in Asmara. We asked him for the true scoop about what not to eat as the military can be quite alarmist about such things in foreign countries. The only thing he warned us about was chicken or eggs. Our first morning as we exited the hotel two young Ethiopians insisted they wanted to show us around. They wouldn’t take money, but said we could treat them to lunch. We did and what did they order? Injera Wat–in this case we were to scoop up with the bread covering a huge tray chicken and hard boiled eggs. We both said we’d eaten a huge breakfast but we’d try a bit. Our tongues burned for a long time from the teensiest amount of super hot sauce and we swallowed several Cokes to recover while our guests happily ate what we’d been unable to. When lunch was over they waved goodbye.

  9. lucrezia Said:

    Youth exists for a purpose — it’s a time to learn, so one eventually finds ways to wiggle out of many social problems as they arise. Experience has gotten me out of speeding tickets (tears & feminine diffidence often works) and appearance of shock has often brought down prices — even in Manhattan! One eventually grows a crop of wiles, excuses and suitable strategies to fit most occasions. Not everything works all the time, and there’s always a new “problem” which crops up. The fun starts when one must find a way to handle it.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    It’s true…I’m much better at finessing awkward situations these days than when young. I suppose “eat what you’re given” was drummed into me so deeply that I had a hard time wheedling my way out of things in the day. I used to visit all the decorating/building magazines/editors at Meredith when it was headquartered in Des Moines. I’d take a bunch of editors to lunch and one year they had a hilarious time on me because they ordered snake for me to taste. Representing NYC I simply had to and did….and no, it didn’t taste like chicken. I can’t really tell you what it tasted like because I cut off all my senses, chewed and swallowed as fast as I could.

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