I have a food dilemma.

Since childhood, I have not been able to eat certain food combinations. Sometimes just their smell is enough to gag me. This is not the normal “I’ll have a taco without cheese, please,” kind of situation. It is a little more complicated than not liking a certain food. You see, to me, eating creamy (hate crunchy) peanut butter on crackers is tasty, but the idea of eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich sours my stomach. Ketchup on French fries, ditto; ketchup on any other food does not happen in my world. Pickles in potato salad are delicious, but otherwise I can not tolerate their vinegary scent for more than a split second.

My list of no-no combinations is endless.

I don’t normally think about my unusual eating habits. Avoiding them comes naturally to me. And because my family is aware of my ‘oddities,’ conversations about my issues ceased long ago. Now when everyone slathers butter on toast, they skip me as they pass the container around the table.

Triston and Ivan loves to hang out with their uncle JB.
 It was not until I had breakfast a few Saturdays ago with my two grandsons (Triston and Ivan) that I was challenged to consider my food choice from a different angle. My daughter is being deployed with the military, and the two boys are staying with me for a year.

Even when you think kids are not listening, they are always tuned in to adult conversations. Earlier that morning they must have heard me talking to my friend, because Ivan, the four year-old, looked up at me and asked, “Can you eat this grandma? It is yummy.” He held his fork in my direction. A supersize serving of pancake covered in peanut butter and maple syrup was inches from me face.

Unable to speak, I shook my head.

“You promised you’d take a bite if we mixed the pancake batter.” Triston joined the conversation.

Ivan waved the food in my face. My reaction was so strong, I wanted to throw up.


How was I going to get through this and still set a good example for them? After all I’d insisted the boys eat at least half the portion of lima beans I’d serve at dinner the night before. Once again, I inhaled a deep breath.

I’ll get through this, no matter how hard.

I closed my mouth over the food and chewed with resolved calm. Of course, it was one of the most disgusting things I had ever eaten. But I did not let my grandsons know my true feelings. In their eyes I was a wonderful grandma who kept her promise. Even more important they believed they were helping me.

Over the past two weeks they have prodded me into trying the strangest combinations. Some I love, others still make me gag. I’m not sure why I have held onto my quirky childhood habits for so long, but I have learned something from all this food drama.

I never accept the status quo. I get it now. To experience life fully you have to embrace new things. Two days ago, I tried sushi for the first time. While I probably will not order it again, I am glad I had the experience.

As I end this article, I catch a whiff of tiramisu. My son loves it, but since I hate coffee I’ve never given the dessert a try. Maybe I’ll take him up on his offer and accept a bite.

Now it’s your time to share…

Until later,

Pamela Varnado


  1. Mary Marvella // March 1, 2011 at 11:44 AM  

    Hi, Pam! I can remember chewing liver so long I thought it would never be swallowable. Liver grows as I chew it! I still won't eat it.

    Peanut butter, good, with mayo, really good, with jelly, not so good!

    Fries need salt and nothing else! If fish needs ketchup, it isn't good fish, and no ketchup on scrambled eggs, please! I will eat tomato with eggs, though.

  2. Judy // March 1, 2011 at 7:09 PM  

    I'm one of these people who likes most everything! I don't think I could eat a grasshopper though or some creepy crawly things - except I like escargots and shrimp and lobster, so maybe I can't say that.
    When my boys were growing up they had to taste everything but they could choose two things that they had to take just one bite of. They both chose brussel sprouts and one other thing!! LOL

  3. Connie Gillam // March 1, 2011 at 7:15 PM  

    Pamela, I always knew you were weird. LOL.

    I don't eat hash because it reminds me of dog food. I'll eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on bread, but I prefer toast. The combination of soft bread and stiff peanut sticking to the roof of my mouth makes me want to gag. And sushi? I'm shuddering. It's like liver to Mary. The stuff grows in my mouth until it's too big to swallow.

  4. Nightingale // March 1, 2011 at 7:56 PM  

    My goodness Pam. I'm so lucky that almost nothing bothers me. I'm not keen on oatmeal--the consistency makes me not want to swallow!

  5. Beth Trissel // March 1, 2011 at 8:11 PM  

    Hello Pam. Very interesting. My youngest daughter is rather like this. A big high five on making efforts for your grandsons, and a high five to you for taking care of them for a year. Wow. You are a super lady.

  6. Barbara Monajem // March 1, 2011 at 8:56 PM  

    Hi, Pam -- When I was a child, baked beans made me want to throw up, and just thinking about eating cotton candy made my teeth hurt. I can handle baked beans now, but I still avoid cotton candy.

    Loved the pic of the kids!

  7. Pamela Varnado // March 1, 2011 at 9:36 PM  

    Mary, while everyone else in my family hates liver, I love it. Which is really strange, because it's not a visually appealing food.

  8. Pamela Varnado // March 1, 2011 at 9:39 PM  

    Judy, you're like my husband. He can eat anything, including the creepy things. My grandsons are very picky eaters. Ivan loves veggies and hates meat. It would be easier to learn how to fly a plane than it is to get Triston to eat veggies. He loves meat. LOL

  9. Pamela Varnado // March 1, 2011 at 9:41 PM  

    Yes, Connie, I am a little obsessive compulsive when it comes to food. And the sushi didn't taste as bad as I thought it would, but I can't move beyond the idea of eating raw fish.

  10. Pamela Varnado // March 1, 2011 at 9:44 PM  

    Eating is a challenge, but I have it down to a science now. If it looks appealing and smell delicious I'll usually try it. Except if it is something like frog's legs. There is no way to make them appetizing.

    And FYI, I love oatmeal.

  11. Pamela Varnado // March 1, 2011 at 9:45 PM  

    Beth, I love having my grandsons around. They bring so much joy into my life and are a true blessing to me.

  12. Pamela Varnado // March 1, 2011 at 9:47 PM  

    Barbara, I can't stomach cotton candy either. It's too sweet. The older I get the less my body can tolerate sugar. Guess that is good...

  13. Patrice // March 1, 2011 at 10:07 PM  

    Pam - what a great blog. Reminds me of Ronald Dahl - Ham and Green Eggs. Unless you try something new how would you know if you like it?
    It's wonderful that you're taking care of your grandchildren while your daughter is deployed. You're an amazing woman.

  14. Scarlet Pumpernickel // March 1, 2011 at 10:35 PM  

    Pam, how brave you are! The little tikes laid a trap for you. But you were a good sport and set a great example for them. Yeah Pam.

  15. Mary Ricksen // March 1, 2011 at 11:02 PM  

    I'll tell you this Pam I hate coffee, though I like the smell of it brewing. And I love tiramisu!

  16. Mary Ricksen // March 1, 2011 at 11:03 PM  

    Who else but a loving grandma would eat something that made her nauseous for her grandchild!

  17. Tami Brothers // March 2, 2011 at 6:13 AM  

    Love this PAM!!! I have some similiar food aversions, so I'm with ya girl. Yay for you trying Sushi. I finally tried this a few years ago and LOVE it.

    Ummm when did you get old enough to have grandkids? So not believing that.

    Great article. Thanks for sharing it with us.


    PS - Best of luck to your daughter. My prayers are with her.

  18. Pamela Varnado // March 2, 2011 at 8:49 AM  

    Patrice, thanks for the kind words. The little rascals are a handful for they bring such joy to me. I'm a big Ronald Dahl fan. I loved James and the Giant Peach and still have a copy I purchased twenty years ago. I must dig it out and read it to the grandkids.

  19. Pamela Varnado // March 2, 2011 at 8:50 AM  

    Scarlett, Ivan has a such a playful personality that I'm sure the boys will come up with lots of ways to test me. But I'm up to the challenge.

  20. Pamela Varnado // March 2, 2011 at 8:52 AM  

    Mary R., it's amazing the sacrifice moms make to please their kids. Makes me think it's in our DNA.

  21. Pamela Varnado // March 2, 2011 at 8:54 AM  

    Tami, glad you liked the sushi. I can't move beyond the thought of eating raw fish. Guess I've watched too many documentaries about how mercury has been found in fish. But, I'm glad I tried it. Now on to the next challenge!

  22. Tamara LeBlanc // March 2, 2011 at 11:10 AM  

    I know your quirks well. I've witnessed them myself. Though I think it's crazy for anyone to forego peanut butter, maple syrup and pancakes, tiramisu, or sushi, I still love you just the same!!
    I like eating. Most people know this about me. And what's more, I like everything. I try everything. This past weekend I ate chilled seaweed salad. My friends gagged, like I'm sure u would have, but I LOVED it! And I wouldn't have known that if I didn't try it.
    But, that being said, there are two things on earth I won't eat...cabbage, I loathe, hate, am reviled by cabbage. And if I were ever on the show bizarre foods with that cute Zimmerman fellow, I wouldn't ever eat an eyeball.
    Other than that, I'm game for anything:)
    I'm very proud of u for trying the pancake, and peanut butter bite your grandsons gave you!! Well done Pammy.
    Now, when we go to New York, it'll be my turn to make u try something new...they make great tiramisu.
    luv you!!!!

  23. Joanne // March 2, 2011 at 2:22 PM  

    I have the opposite of the picky eater dilemma. My family and I love to eat anything and everything. My daughter especially uses the motto: "the more exotic food, the better".

  24. Pamela Varnado // March 3, 2011 at 12:35 AM  

    Tamara, I've seen the foods you pilr on yout plate. I wouldn't serve leftovers to my pet. Maybe you really do have a cast iron stomach.

  25. Pamela Varnado // March 3, 2011 at 12:44 AM  

    I'd love to adopt your approach to the GRW meeting. When I saw your appoches, I dediced they didn't need me. Didn't want me. Which was a good thing, because I didn't Sunday.

  26. Your Wonderful Daughter.... // March 5, 2011 at 6:58 PM  

    Hey Momma! Love the article! Just wait until Ivan asks you to taste his sour cream, cheese, and tomato taco....LOL! That boy will eat sour cream on anything!! I miss them so much, take care of them while I am away! I love you guys!