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Fear & Loathing of Chunks/Pieces of Tomatoes in Italy

I have a 60-something male traveling companion who has very finicky eating habits. While he is comfortable eating ketchup and pureed tomatoes in sauces, he is completely reluctant to eat any intact pieces of tomatoes to the point of picking out each piece. He will completely push the meal away if the pieces are too numerous. It's no help to me if you recommend that he obtain "tomato therapy" because it's not going to happen. Strangely enough my own sister will ask for pizza minus sauce. She will however eat ketchup. Worse, my former supervisor at Ford HQTR's in Dearborn would only eat Roma tomatoes. I simply don't understand these difficult people because I've always loved every variation of tomato available. I've often grown many of my own favorites.

I am looking for any advice you might have to help me keep the dreaded chunks of tomatoes from appearing on his plates. I have completed 2 classes in Italian so obviously I only have rudimentary skills. What's the best way to request that no pieces of tomato appear in a meal? The best I can come up with so far is "per favore nessun pezzo di pomodori o pezzi di pomodori". I don't want our 3 weeks to be torturous for both of us. Aiuto!?

Posted by
3811 posts

Are you going on holiday with my husband??! The only vegetables he eats are potatoes and raw carrot. It was so bad, I haven't bought Rice-a-Roni in years because I couldn't stand to see him pick miniscule pieces of carrot out of the rice.

I don't have any advice on how not to get the tomato chunks - my husband just works around them. He doesn't complain or get grossed out. (He doesn't eat ketchup, but loooooves spaghetti with non-chunky tomato sauce). Maybe he can have a different sauce on his pasta - Bolognese works for my husband. Or carbonara.

Posted by
11575 posts

LOL, Silas!
Maybe I'm missing something but why not have him choose selections with no tomato at all in them, like mushroom risotto, pasta with pesto sauces, cheese pizza, fish and whatnot? I wouldn't think that would be very difficult. Just on a whim, I pulled this website up of a place we went to in Florence as it has lots pix. Few tomato chunks in sight.

http://www.ciroandsons.com/eng-menu.php

Posted by
9421 posts

Stick to pastas without pomodori such most seafood pastas, pasta alla gricia, or the famous carbonara. Roasted meat, poultry, and fish dishes rarely have tomatoes, so steer him toward the secondi on the menu.

Best to avoid the tomatoes all together, I think, and certainly never order spaghetti all’amatriciana, but I would say “Senza pezzi di pomodori, per favore.”

Posted by
273 posts

Nicole P, I didn't realize this was such a common plight. Unfortunately my traveling companion is not quite as agreeable as yours. I feel so guilty enjoying my meals so much when he looks so repulsed. Of course I will watch for variations on white sauces and he has enjoyed some bolognese sauces as you suggest.

Posted by
3322 posts

Not every Italian pasta dish, or other dishes either, come with tomatoes. Just have him order those instead. Both of you don't have to eat the same thing.

Is there some reason this person refuses to eat tomatoes? Did he watch "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" one too many times? Or has he simply chosen to dislike tomatoes to be difficult? There are foods I don't like, so I simply don't order them in restaurants. Problem solved.

If the reason for not eating tomatoes is an allergy, then my answer, and attitude, would be different. I know facing the prospect of not eating because everything contains something you are allergic to is completely different than simply not liking something. But since the person being talked about will eat other tomato products long as they are not chunky, then not a problem.

Posted by
6543 posts

Stick with Marinara sauce that usually is chunkless, or order other sauces like Alfredo Sauce or Butter/Garlic Sauce. I never understood such pickiness either.
When we travel, we eat a little local food, however we very often eat foods like we eat at home--including Chinese, burgers, etc. And when we've been in Tuscany in Agriturismos, we will go to the grocery and buy food to picnic at lunch and cook a regular meal for dinner. I've never understood how little Italians can eat full, multi course meals like they do.

Posted by
273 posts

Laurel, thank you! I will remember to use the more concise “Senza pezzi di pomodori, per favore” and to steer him away from spaghetti all’amatriciana. It's a really good piece of advice to focus on the secondi. He isn't likely to encounter many tomatoes there. It's a real landmine maneuvering his food quirks and frustrating for a food lover like me.

Posted by
273 posts

Kathy & Mark, I believe his mother didn't like intact tomatoes or mustards. Maybe it's ingrained somehow? His siblings all share the same dislikes. However, my sister had the opportunity to learn to love tomatoes and mustard as a child because our mother loved them. Yet she never got over the distaste either. It's strange because as a young adult I intentionally revisited hated childhood foods (brussel sprouts, spinach) and learned to love them. I haven't met a vegetable I don't like yet! I just seem to be surrounded by those who hate tomatoes. LOL

Posted by
273 posts

David, yes Marinara sauce often is acceptable to him, and he does like Alfredo and Butter/Garlic sauces. Like you I am amazed at the large amount of food consumed at dinner. I've attempted to eat more at breakfast and a little more at lunch while reducing dinner. I told him he can easily eat at McDonald's in Rome should he need it and there's such a variety in university towns like Padua.

Posted by
5817 posts

I totally feel his pain! There are very few foods I don't like and even then I can eat them to be polite, but raw tomatoes NO! They are simply revolting. I always thought I was the only one and then randomly found out my cousin feels the same. We think it is genetic, for want of a better word They taste like something that shouldn't be eaten, awful. I can eat them cooked in sauces which makes me think they must contain a chemical that cooks out.

Posted by
5035 posts

I have family members with an aversion to tomatoes, and a couple who won't eat them due to the acidity. Its nice of you that you want to shield them from even the view of tomatoes, but really, as adults, the burden should be on them to learn how to ask if a dish has tomatoes, or to know which ones might. Making faces at your dinner choices is bad manners. I would order extra tomatoes if I saw that (said with a smile).

BTW, you don't have to learn whole grammatically perfect sentences to make your request known. A simple "no Pomodori, per favore" with vigorous hand gesture and shaking of head ought to do it. They can figure it out.

Posted by
558 posts

At home in America, I also do not like raw tomatoes or large chunks of cooked tomatoes --- something about the skin surrounding the "goosh" inside. Yes, even home-grown, fully ripe, reportedly tasty tomatoes. To my surprise, I love tomatoes in Italy, although I still like the raw ones in smaller pieces. Perhaps your "male" will be surprised, too, at the incredibly rich and sweet and flavorful tomatoes on your trip. I recommend starting with small bits of roasted tomatoes --- less liquid-y and with a concentrated flavor.

He will just have to avert his eyes from your food (controlling what YOU eat is going to far!) like I do when my husband eats certain kinds of seafood and offal, but he will have a very, very easy time ordering food without any tomatoes in Italy.

Posted by
16857 posts

In Italy there are pizzas with no form of tomato on them. Even if tomato sauce is present, it's usually totally cooked down to the point of acceptability to your friend. However, you cannot be 100% sure that every restaurant will do that. You might be able to tell by looking at other diners' plates as you walk through the restaurant, though.

I know two tomato-haters; both will eat totally-liquid tomato sauces. The severe dislike of tomatoes seems to be quite common. I suspect it usually starts with an aversion to the glue-y jelly-and-seed stuff, which is where most of the flavor is.

Posted by
20638 posts

I will be a bit harsh. Why is it your responsibility to see that his eating habits are fulfilled? It is his responsibility because it is his choices. We often travel with another couple. The husband has some very strange, inconsistent food requests. We all order what we want and let him deal with the waiter and his requests. Someone it is a little embarrassing but we suffer through it. You are not in charge of his meals. He is. If you are having a wonderful meal and he looks unhappy -- that is his problem.

Posted by
11970 posts

There are thousands of recipes in the Italian regional cuisine that do not contemplate tomatoes at all. There are thousands more that use tomato sauce but not in chunks. He can stick to those.

Posted by
2235 posts

Silas, I really don’t think this will be much of a problem for you and yours. Most main dishes in Italy do not contain tomatoes, neither do breakfast items or desserts. There are plenty of pasta dishes, pizzas and panini without tomatoes, and certainly without pieces or slices of tomato. As I remember, tossed salads are not a major feature of Italian menues, unless you seek them out. Just another reason that my motto in Italy, and increasingly in other European countries, is: “when in doubt, have a gelato!”

Posted by
3811 posts

I mean, I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes myself...I’ve tried to like them (and cucumbers) to no avail...but if there are cooked chunks in pasta sauce, or some on bruschetta, I’ll eat them. I have even popped a few quarters if they’ve been in a salad...and immediately made a face after...lol.

I mean, most of us have weird food habits. Growing up, when my mom made homemade pizza, my sister and I never wanted cheese on ours. Cheese!! That’s the best part!!

I had a niece who wouldn’t eat anything but hot dogs, French fries, chicken nuggets and chocolate milk for about a year.

But I think my mother in law just gave in to his weird food habits. She grew up in a fishing town and loved fish and I can barely even get my husband to eat a piece of haddock.

Posted by
6243 posts

I have a 60-something male traveling companion who has very finicky eating habits

So how is this YOUR problem?

He is an adult, he can order whatever he wants and you do the same.

Posted by
273 posts

I think I am probably feeling a little more responsible than usual for my traveling partner's happiness with dinners because I'm the one who really wanted to spend some time in Italy. He would be happy to spend 3 months in Paris if it was his choice alone. To be sure I intend to enjoy my tomatoes wherever and whenever I choose. I agree that adults should be able to deal with dinner situations. He seems to have some trepidation that every meal is saturated with tomato pieces and I suspect it's due to over exposure to Americanized "Italian" restaurants and pizza chains? I appreciate the reminders of the non-tomato entries and ideas. I have pointed out to him that every Italian isn't eating tomato chunks around the clock. I appreciate everyone's comments, ideas and help! It really is putting me more at ease which will help both of us! I will never understand aversion to any food items. I like to host and cook and it has been something of a chore for many years accommodating all of these finicky cats!

Posted by
973 posts

He should not have a problem finding things to eat in Italy. I am picky, too, but I always find something on the menu that is acceptable. He will, too.

Posted by
273 posts

There are thousands of recipes in the Italian regional cuisine that do not contemplate tomatoes at all. There are thousands more that use tomato sauce but not in chunks. He can stick to those.

Thanks Roberto! I agree completely and he is more likely to believe it coming from you!

Posted by
273 posts

He should not have a problem finding things to eat in Italy. I am picky, too, but I always find something on the menu that is acceptable. He will, too.

Thank you Mary - that will make him feel more comfortable.

Posted by
273 posts

Larry, I will show him your helpful comment. I agree that there are many options. These irrational fears can be hard to overcome. I'm glad flying doesn't bother him at all.

Posted by
236 posts

My favorite is aglio e olio which is garlic oil. I've had it so many times all over Italy and always fantastic. The other option is to ask the waiter if the tomato sauce is chunky with pieces of tomato or smooth. I don't eat dairy. Cheese. Every restaurant I went to I had to ask if the sauce had cheese. I have been on many trips to Italy and never a problem. He will be fine.

Posted by
273 posts

Kathy, thanks for suggesting Ciro and Sons. He's already looked over the menu and pictures and wants to give it a try! We will be in Florence 3 days and nights. I've already identified some good options for Padua where we will stay 3 nights. I'm really looking forward to the extended evening visits to the Scrovegni Chapel. We have 4 nights in Venice which will probably be the most difficult food environment. We have one day in Orvieto and end with a week in Rome.

Posted by
173 posts

I love everything tomato...sauce, toppings, juice, salsa...but raw the slimy part is tough for me to eat.

Posted by
11575 posts

Kathy, thanks for suggesting Ciro and Sons.

You're welcome! RS poster Jay in Chicago loved that one too and he's a bonafide foodie so take HIS word for it! :O)

We had another very nice meal at Francesco Vini near Basilica Santa Croce.

https://www.francescovini.com/english-moug4

Really, I don't think dodging the dreaded tomato in Venice will be any more challenging than Rome or Florence.

Posted by
273 posts

Kathy, I am thinking that seafood oddities in Venice might trigger additional fears and loathings...lol. All bets are off when squid ink pasta makes an appearance!

Posted by
258 posts

Don't expect cheese with your seafood pasta. Just not done. My sister asked for cheese with her squid ink pasta....the waiter was appalled. He respectfully explained that although he would bring cheese if she really wanted cheese (I wonder to this day if he would have) cheese on squid ink pasta was just not done. She ate it without the cheese and loved it.

We also had a waiter respectfully suggest that our wine selections were a bit off. I wanted white with veal and she red with fish. We happily followed the recommendation made but tested the recommendation first. I sipped my white then had a bite of veal. Then sipped the red. The red was definitely better even though I am not a great fan of red wine. The wine choices were not "high end" just the house wine.
Sometimes, you just need to listen to the server.

Posted by
2235 posts

Squid ink pasta, una maraviglia! Especially in Venice, but also in the US. I have a friend of Italian stock, who has a business making pastas of various shapes, with various flavors and colors, also sauces and gnocchi, and sells at several farmers markets, among other places. Every few weeks she makes a batch of squid ink pasta, and I can’t resist. I always also buy her homemade clam sauce to go with it, what a treat! And, no tomatoes at all.

Posted by
273 posts

Sometimes, you just need to listen to the server.

cbrochu30, that's wise advice. Servers are familiar with the offerings and customer's experiences with them.

Posted by
1742 posts

It's not that "it's not done". Grated cheese would cover the taste of most fish products, you'd be paying a lot of money for nothing. It's basically a stupid way of wasting money.
Those who like so much the taste of grated cheese, should just tell waiters their stomach is sick and ask for a cheese & butter pasta.
That waiter was a nice guy that treated you as real persons, not just customers.

Posted by
5817 posts

Traditonal British fish pie!
A selection of fish and sea food cooked in a creamy white sauce, topped with mashed potato and melted cheese.
Cream cheese and smoked salmon sandwiches
Smoked fish pate
Certainly not all fish can stand up to the flavour of cheese but it's wrong to say never. All countries have different food cultures, it's what makes travel interesting.

Posted by
273 posts

Larry, you are fortunate to have those products available at local markets. I do have an Italian family-owned and operated restaurant nearby named DeLuca's that sells their grandmother's dressings in Mason jars. They've been in business since the 1950's. The Rugiero family has owned and operated 4 restaurants for over 50 years, located in Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Canton and Farmington Hills. The IT staff at Ford has given them plenty of business over the years. Dearborn used to have a very large Italian population.

Posted by
5035 posts

Re: Italy and cheese and seafood.
I'm no expert on this, but FWIW, this is how it was explained to me when we were there (rather condescendingly, I might add). To add cheese to seafood is taken as an implied criticism of the cook who has prepared the dish authentically according to custom. We might look at a sprinkle of parmesan as a seasoning, whereas they see it as adding an unnecessary ingredient, changing the recipe. Fresh seafood, having delicate flavors, is not supposed to have the added strong flavor of cheese ruining the dish. "A cultured customer" (server's words) is supposed to know that, just like all those other eccentricities of food another countries (no ice, no coffee with meal, etc.) that you find when traveling. The "customer-is-always-right" thing is an American concept that doesn't apply all over the world.

Posted by
3322 posts

I really can't think of instances where cheese complements seafood.

Lobster mac & cheese! It has to be the right cheese or all you taste is the cheese which is not a good thing. And of course enough lobster that you know it is there. :-)

But for most fish dishes, cheese would grate with the overall composition resulting in a taste that would not be the best.

Posted by
1742 posts

We might look at a sprinkle of parmesan as a seasoning,

Stan I wonder if it depends on the difference between Italian parmigiano (or pecorino) and American parmesan that may be more delicate.
When you add 18 months seasoned grated parmigiano cheese on fresh fish you don't just ruin the recipe, You make everything taste as 18 months seasoned grated cheese.

The results may be different with ocean fish and soft cheese. Not surprisingly, the original recipe to prepare "Vicenza style" dried codfish is centuries old and says "50 grams of grated Grana cheese". Codfish came from northern Europe and no italian cook has ever thought that putting cheese on it is a sin.

Posted by
1507 posts

LOL, this thread is turning into an episode of "Confessions of Raw Tomato Haters" - count me as one! You are nice to find ways to help your friend cope, and you are incredibly lucky that you know about this issue prior to your trip (can you imagine finding out when you got there? yikes). I know how hard it is to eat with someone with who makes (purposefully or not) their drama yours. I quit eating with a work colleague because of her very extreme dietary restrictions and her outward disdain at establishments that couldn't possibly accommodate her gluten/wheat/dairy/shellfish/animal/soy/etc. intolerance. It just isn't a good way to spend time together. Thankfully, she can drink wine so happy hour is fine!

But please, don't ruin your vacation by choosing restaurants where only Mr. Picky will find something acceptable, especially if they're not places you want to eat yourself. Concede a meal or two, but if you have your heart set on something, agree go your separate ways for that meal. Three weeks is too long time in Italy to miss out on the food.

Posted by
273 posts

Lobster mac & cheese!

Mark, thanks, I hadn't thought of that. The only thing that occurred to me was Lobster Ravioli and I doubt that cheese would complement it.

Posted by
273 posts

emma, thanks for reminding us of the traditional British dishes. I haven't had much exposure to them but travel to the UK is in my near future.

Posted by
273 posts

CL, thanks for the encouragement and I intend to take your advice. I will not be reluctant to send him to McDonald's if necessary while I sample something more adventurous! Fortunately I am still slender at age 62 and at my lowest weight in over 10 years so I intend to enjoy the food!

Posted by
2235 posts

"I really can't think of instances where cheese complements seafood."
Lox (smoked salmon) and cream cheese, yum! Also, tuna melts, another yum.
The list goes on and on.

Posted by
273 posts

Larry, yes a tuna melt can be done well. When poorly done they remind me of the dreaded potluck tuna casserole!

Posted by
11575 posts

Tuna melts! Baked open face with mayo, onion and sweet pickle relish onto a toasted English muffin, and finished with melted cheddar and a toss of cashews. YUM!

Posted by
6243 posts

Tuna melts! Baked open face with mayo, onion and sweet pickle relish onto a toasted English muffin,

Mayo?

Must be me, ( just me?) but I am off to find a bottle of Tums

Posted by
5035 posts

Put a tomato on your tuna melt. Now we're back to square one.

Posted by
5318 posts

@SilasMarner, thanks for your post -- after reading through the responses I turned to my DH and thanked him for being a marvelous travel companion.

Posted by
273 posts

stan, I was thinking the same thing: that tuna melt was just crying for a big slice of tomato on it! lol

Posted by
273 posts

Laura B, you are indeed fortunate! Travel really intensifies these quirks that are routinely dealt with on a daily basis for many years.

Posted by
1722 posts

Man alive, you guys have not only gone off-track but have decidedly gone over the bend!! Let me follow! :)

Yes, OP, if you go to Ciro & Sons in Florence, they'll make whatever you want, within reason. They're known all over town for doing a better gluten-free menu than anyone, so no chunks of tomatoes should be a no-brainer for them.

Interesting morphed topic from this discussion, however, which could be titled, 'When In Italy, What Foods/Drinks Do You Miss From Home That Are Difficult Or Impossible To Obtain?' (I know, worst title in the history of Earth...)

I'll say two right off the bat--A) I really miss lox & bagels in the morning--it's my vacation go-to. Forget finding it, so I do without... B) A good, ol' American cuppa coffee--espresso or cappuccino all the time gives me the heebie-jeebies. Solution: I packed a Melitta plastic cone filter, some paper filter sleeves. Bought some Lavazza breakfast coffee at the market (still plenty strong), our apartment in Rome had a carafe to heat water, voila! Morning coffee to have with our fruit, cheese, meats from the Campo de' Fiori market!

Posted by
273 posts

Jay, we will certainly visit Ciro & Sons in Florence! He's reviewed the menu and is already comfortable with it. I suspect he will want to eat there several times after a good experience! I appreciate the advice and everyone's participation in this thread. It's really an amazing discussion!

Posted by
3322 posts

Jay,

Yes, drinking espresso constantly in Italy can put you on edge, especially if you are used to the fairly low octane drip coffee from back home. If you need to drink in the volume of coffee you are used to, it can be quite deadly actually when your regular drip is replaced with the powerful espresso. Something about drinking the tiny sip that you get in Italy just doesn't satisfy like a full pint.

I have started taking freeze dried instant in single serve packets with me, or buying it as soon as I arrive in Europe. All I need is some warm water, doesn't even need to be all that hot, and I have coffee for the morning. I don't know what the difference is, but the instant coffees in Europe all taste very good compared to their US equivalents.

Posted by
4500 posts

There are thousands of recipes in the Italian regional cuisine that do
not contemplate tomatoes at all.

Roberto has succinctly stated what few others have: you'll find real Italian food is not nearly what you thought it was. There is a massive difference between Italian food and Italian-American food. And Italian food itself varies enormously from region to region. So don't expect to find bowls of spaghetti with meatballs and linguine Alfredo.... I cannot imagine how he could not easily avoid tomatoes if he is otherwise not a picky eater. In most restaurants, "pasta" is nothing more than a small plate that comes before or as a side to the main dinner item, and may or may not even have tomato sauce. Mostly expect a lot of grilled meats and fish, often with sauces that may have some tomato included, but not as chunks or as a "tomato sauce."

One of my favorite "ugly American" stories is overhearing some lady at breakfast complain to her traveling companions that Italian food was much better in the US. I shake my head even now.

Posted by
273 posts

Douglas, that's exactly what I noted earlier in the thread. My friend's experience with Americanized Italian food have colored his expectations. So many items here are simply drenched in bland processed tomato sauces and that's what he expected to encounter in Italy. This thread is helping me find ways to correct his expectations. Thanks for the help! Unfortunately he is a very finicky eater in general. I haven't described his aversion to mustards of any variety, raw onions, mayo, etc.

Posted by
20638 posts

You need a different traveling companion. Personally, i don't understand picky eaters. There are things I dislike but will eat if it the only thing on the table.

Posted by
1742 posts

Pasta never comes as a side dish. It's something you see only in Tucci's movie "Big Night". The idea of eating meatballs and spaghetti at the same time is quite disgusting to us. We may be wrong, of course.

If you dare to take the "grand tour", pasta comes after the starters and before the dishes based on meat or fish. No coincidence that these in italian are called "second courses", not main dishes, while pasta, soups and rice are always "the first ones".

Except for the the southern regions and the worst tourists traps, it's quite unusual to read the plain tomato pasta on menus: most Italians wouldn't pay to eat something that's not part of their regional cuisine and that, at the same time, they can easily make at home. If you are in Venice and you see: "Spaghetti al pomodoro"... yes that's either a starred restaurant trying to impress or a tourist trap.
Locals would laugh at the idea of eating the most simple dish of the traditional Neapolitan cuisine in northern Italy. It may actually be the less Venetian thing I can think of.

Pasta isn't that small either, it's just that you are taking the "grand tour" and they don't want customers to drop dead on the ground before it's over. 3 courses, plus a side dish, a dessert, a coffee with little bakery and then a shot of liquor would kill a buffalo if the servings were "american style".

Posted by
1154 posts

I think that the best line would be avoiding tomatoes at all, and you can live on a tomato-less diet in Italy. In this case the best way to put your question would be: "Per favore, il mio amico non può mangiare piatti con il pomodoro".

If you just want to avoid chunks, the clearest way to put it in Italian would be: "Per favore, il mio amico non vuole [assolutamente] mangiare pomodoro a pezzi".

Posted by
273 posts

In this case the best way to put your question would be: "Per favore, il mio amico non può mangiare piatti con il pomodoro".

Thanks, lachera! I'm starting to feel more confident because I understand every word in your suggested request.

Posted by
273 posts

Frank, LOL, I suppose I sort of assume they will be around me. After all I've known my sister 60 years, and several of my finicky friends for decades. One of of dearest friends does not like vegetables aside from the occasional iceberg lettuce salad. I can't imagine living without eating vegetables - I haven't met one I don't like!

Posted by
273 posts

Dario, those are very good points. I myself have never really liked ordering items that are easy to make at home. I would rather have something too difficult and time consuming to attempt myself!

Posted by
25 posts

Personally I wouldn’t make it my concern... he isn’t your son. Unless he had some sort of disability that he needs help from you ordering, let him order something without tomatoes... My husband is going to Italy next year for the first time and is a vegetarian. He’s not worried at all . There’s always something for everyone 😁

Posted by
8889 posts

Silas, at the risk of being called a troll, I would say "is this person 60 or 6?". Just say what you would to a 6-year-old: "If you don't want it, just leave it on the side of your plate".
This person is presumably an adult, this is his problem, not yours. If he doesn't want something, don't order it or don't eat it if he orders it by mistake (but don't send it back as a result of your mistake - that is rude).

There are things I don't like (seafood, ketchup, any cola, tofu - totally tasteless), but that doesn't stop me, when I see something on a menu I haven't heard of, ordering it to find out what it is. Yes, I have had some disappointments, but many more pleasant discoveries. That is the attitude he should have to eating in any country.
Sorry, I have no sympathy here.

Posted by
8293 posts

Oh, Chris, I so wanted to say the same thing!

Posted by
273 posts

Chris & Norma, thanks for such helpful suggestions. I really wasn't asking for sympathy. I intend to help my travel buddy because I am more adept at learning languages and I am sensitive to the turmoil that he experiences with certain foods. I've seen my sister struggle with these issues for 60 years and several of our best friends do as well. I don't feel responsible for their happiness but I do feel they are entitled to my help if I'm able to offer it. I do that for the people in my life and they help me as well. For instance, I suffer from severe dry eyes and my friend is really good at navigating when I am unable to read fine detail. I'm really glad to have people in my life who care about each other.

Posted by
8293 posts

Sorry to have offended you with my hard-heartedness but I really have never met adults with diet idiosyncrasies such as your friends have. When my children were small they had a few of them ("Is this lambie, Mummy?" from the 5 year old at the dinner table, examining the meat on her plate, whose favourite thing in the whole world was a sweet little stuffed lamb). But then they grew up. You are far more patient and understanding than I would be and I hope your friends appreciate that.

Posted by
273 posts

It's a 2-way street. I was unable to drive when I suffered a CVRO 6 years ago. He spent several hours every month for years taking me to the retina specialist until I fully regained my vision. I've had catastrophic illnesses and deaths in my family and he ways always there to assist me. That's the just the start of the list. Helping him feel comfortable with eating in Italy is the least I can do. It seems this a more prevalent problem than even I suspected.

Posted by
4500 posts

I really wasn't asking for sympathy. I intend to help my travel buddy
because I am more adept at learning languages and I am sensitive to
the turmoil that he experiences with certain foods. I've seen my
sister struggle with these issues for 60 years and several of our best
friends do as well. I don't feel responsible for their happiness but I
do feel they are entitled to my help if I'm able to offer it.

There have been a lot of rude answers to your basic question of how to help a traveling friend avoid tomato chunks. I don't get the hostility. Just ignore them.

Posted by
273 posts

There have been a lot of rude answers to your basic question of how to help a traveling friend avoid tomato chunks. I don't get the hostility. Just ignore them.

Thanks Douglas. People do sometimes say things on the internet that they would never say to someone face to face. In general suggestions have been thoughtful and it's already helped ease his anxiety. I've had a number of pleasant private conversations with forum participants which seem to indicate that these dislikes and/or phobias are more widespread than I thought.

Posted by
273 posts

Thanks Kathy! That thread reminds of the "I Love Lucy" episode where Lucy orders escargot ("Waiter, this food has snails in it.") and asks "Maybe if I had some ketchup?" "Lucy in a Paris Cafe"

Posted by
3811 posts

Some of us are adventurous eaters...some of us are not. I'm not as fussy as my husband, but I'm still not keen to try new stuff if I don't know what's in it. I have my comfort zone and don't really care to stray too far. I mean, I didn't even start eating Caesar salad until 2014 at the age of 41!!

And for some people, it is a texture thing - if my husband gets even a bit of fat in his meat (especially steak) he can't swallow it - I'll just chew my way thru it, but he has to use a napkin to get rid of it. He doesn't like cooked fruit because he doesn't like the texture/mouth feel of it. No getting around that.

But it's great that there are people out there who will eat anything - we aren't going to starve with our limited menu...we find food we like just fine. The great thing about being an adult - you can eat what you like and not have to be forced to eat something that holds no interest for you.

And I love that you are travelling with your friend - he seems to have been a great help over the years.

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390 posts

I am a weirdo too, the only place I REALLY willingly eat bits of tomatoes is on bruschetta from one of my fav restaurants around the corner from my old house in Salerno.....

BUT....I make and LOVE chili, and my recipe (which OBVIOUSLY is perfect haha) includes stewed tomatoes. So I cut them up as little as possible and eat them as part of the overall dish (just like I don't like peppers, but I make them in my pasta bake cuz that's what is supposed to be there haha). I can't think of anything not named "pomodoro" (or some other variation of the tomato word) besides Amatriciana that would have pieces in it....

good luck!

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273 posts

Kathy, thanks for the laugh - I'd completely forgotten about that scene! I've always loved Bernadette Peters - her speechless reaction is priceless!

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273 posts

Kathleen, my friend will only eat salsa that's been pulverized in the Cuisinart food processor! That kitchen gadget is essential in the homes of the finicky.

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273 posts

Nicole P, thanks for speaking up on the behalf of particular eaters. I myself have to admit that I haven't ate liver for decades. My mother's Pennsylvania Dutch cooking style (Swiss refugees 1729) made it unrecognizable and edible when I was young. LOL

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4500 posts

While we are on the subject of weird food issues - I don't like ice cream with anything crunchy in it. Nuts or bits. And especially nothing that itself gets frozen, like fruit. If I have to be polite I can eat it, but I never order that type of ice cream.

I know someone that cannot stand shrimp because they don't like the texture in their mouth.

I don't like olives and will pick them out or eat around them. So a dish filled with olive chunks would not be pleasant for me. I do love olive oil though.

And on tomatoes, I don't like biting into grape tomatoes whole. The way the burst open in your mouth icks me out. I try to slice them first if I can.

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273 posts

Douglas, I agree with you about the grape tomatoes. I've had some unfortunate incidents trying to slice them but I do love their sweet taste.

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4445 posts

I’ve found this whole thread rather amusing and at times have just laughed out loud.

I hated raw tomatoes as a child, but now love good tomatoes. I was wondering if most of the raw tomato-hating folks are from locales that only have those nasty grocery store tomatoes. The texture and taste of a tomato changes when you put it in the fridge and grocery store tomatoes are shipped in refrigerated trucks.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy your trip. I always cringe a little when I go to a restaurant with a picky eater who displays their ”high maintenance” (a la Meg Ryan in ”When Harry Met Sally”), so its very smart of you to plan ahead.

Silas, you are a very good friend to help your tomato chunk phobic buddy through the stress of parsing an Italian menu. I hope you have a fabulous trip with no accidental tomato chunks.