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 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.