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Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater's Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate
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Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater's Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  200 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
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 gra
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by TarcherPerigee (first published July 1st 2012)
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Pamela Ribon
Jul 01, 2012 Pamela Ribon rated it it was amazing
Fans of Mary Roach will enjoy Stephanie Lucianovic's exploration into why some of us are such picky eaters. As a non picky-eater, reading this often gave me just as much anxiety as the one having the problems eating. "JUST TRY IT. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, IT'S A WEIRD TEXTURE? IT'S JUST A RAISIN, CALM DOWN. PEOPLE ARE STARVING, SO EAT THIS MEAL I MADE YOU FOR FREE, YOU JERK." I'm a happy, adventurous omni-eater who once tried fried grubs at a street vendor in Bangkok, so for me Stephanie's book was lik ...more
Stephanie Lucianovic
Aug 17, 2012 Stephanie Lucianovic rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Lesley Knope voted for herself, so I'm gonna, too.
Jun 07, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really 3.5 stars, but the writing quality was high enough for the round-up.

Author's background, and her research and interviews, were well-presented, although I did find them a bit bogged down in the more scientific areas (in-depth discussion of chromosomes, and such). Strongest parts focused on examples of picky eater syndrome, and how those folks function in relationships, etc. I do beg to differ that as a picky eater myself, we do spend time picking out, and otherwise avoiding, unwanted items
Nov 18, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it
As a picky eater, maybe reformed, I loved this book. So many moments prompted "yes!" "I know!" and "that's me!" from me. As a picky eater turned foodie, Lucianovic gets it. She knows that we don't want to be the way we are, and sets about investigating why this happens to some people and not others. Even though she doesn't find a definitive answer, it seems to be some combination of biology, psychology, and parenting techniques. I never would have thought this embarrassing part of my life was bi ...more
Sarah Mackey
Aug 27, 2012 Sarah Mackey rated it it was amazing
Rarely do I describe my state of mind upon finishing a book as "vindicated," but god, this book felt like it was written just for me. I, too, am trying to overcome a picky past to become an adventurous eater, although I am not as far down the path as Stephanie. But this book made me feel like my struggles to overcome pickiness are legitimate, and made me realize that I am not alone in this state of mind.

I plan to force this on people who think being picky is a choice, because this book is insig
Aug 08, 2014 Amy added it
Of course I'm reading this book - I'M IN IT.
Jill Furedy
Feb 26, 2013 Jill Furedy rated it it was amazing
A girl at work asked me if I only eat orange food. I pointed out that my peanut butter sandwich was not orange, just the chips and crackers I usually snack on, plus my usual drink of Sunkist. I did admit that orange foods taste best, and green foods are usually repellant. Another coworker used to comment that I ate like her 5 year old daughter. Can't argue there. As long as there is pasta, chicken or beef on the menu I'm usually okay for restaurants and dinner parties. But every now and then I g ...more
Catherine Shattuck
Jul 04, 2012 Catherine Shattuck rated it it was amazing
I'll be honest -- I didn't think picky eating sounded like a very interesting topic when I bought this book. BUT, the author is a friend of mine, so naturally I wanted to read it anyway. OHMYGOD! Picking eating is FASCINATING! Or, at least it is when Stephanie is writing about it.

I started smiling on page 4. I laughed out loud for the first of *many* times on page 17. Stephanie took what could have been a dry subject -- the science and psychology behind picky eating -- and turned it into a rive
Jul 10, 2012 Nanita rated it it was amazing
I thought for a while whether I should be up-front about the fact that I am a friend of this author and I've finally concluded that it would feel too duplicitous to not divulge this. But, I will add that while I have many friends who have published books, I rarely publicly review their books. I am making an exception here because if I didn't know Stephanie, I'd have scrambled to write a review immediately after finishing the book and so why should I not?

First, it's a really quick read. If not fo
Jul 31, 2012 Joy rated it really liked it
Why are picky eaters so picky? Why do many of them stay that way into adulthood? Is it really a "moral" failing of some sort, as most people assume, or is there something more to the topic? The author, a self-identified picky eater, sets out in this book to find the roots and causes of picky eating in a quest to define her own. Along the way she investigates possible physical causes (supertasting, sensory issues), upbringing effects (clean plates, "try three bites," etc.), social anxieties (can' ...more
Aug 02, 2012 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Suffering Succotash (what a great title!) is a funny and informative book. The author uses stories from her life as a picky eater and her quest to gather information on picky eating to weave together a coherent narrative of the latest research on eating. It's really quite skillfully done - and quite entertaining, too!

Lucianovic covers research on taste, the idea of "supertasters", sensitivity to certain foods (I am utterly convinced that I am a "taster" for whatever that bitter stuff is, because
Sep 08, 2013 Desiree rated it really liked it
What a great topic to explore. Extremely funny and well-written (with a few exceptions where the funny delves too far into cheesy, but not many).

To paraphrase one of the source articles, this book took away my smug.

Seriously, people who don't eat vegetables aren't just stubborn/stupid/irritating? Silly me. My boyfriend's aversion to "soft or stinky" cheese is normal?

Then again, it made me reflect on what a "picky" eater I am, being averse to bivalve shellfish (which have made me retch on more t
Jul 14, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing
Warning: only read this book in public if you are ok with laughing loudly about every other page and attracting a few odd stares. I read this book on the train from Boston to New York and couldn't help myself. Picky eating might not sound like the funniest of subjects, but Stephanie's writing and personal observations about her own quest to understand her picky origins is a riot. If you've ever read anything by Mary Roach, then the mix of science/research with humour and personality will appeal ...more
Catherine B.
Jan 24, 2013 Catherine B. rated it it was amazing
I am not as picky eater as some, but I definitely have strong reactions to some foods. RAISINS?!!$@$!#@
As a child, I was an extremely picky eater and now outgrown 97% of it, but if this book had existed and my mom read it, she may have changed her strategies.

I appreciate that Stephanie Lucianovic went to so mush trouble to explain the what, when, why and how of picky eating and introduced me to the concept of supertasters. Her use of herself and others as examples is done with great humor that
Jul 07, 2012 Carol rated it it was amazing
What a fun book! I know... a book about picky eating is fun? It is!! Despite being a really good cook, there are foods I really dislike and have felt like I had to hide the aversions/dislikes from friends. This book helped me realize I'm not alone, and it's TOTALLY NORMAL to have food aversions for no particular reason. Or, for a reason. There is some science behind picky eating -- and I found those sections really, really interesting.

This was a really great read -- I think you'll enjoy it!
Feb 01, 2013 Robynn rated it really liked it
Are you a picky eater? Do you know a picky eater? Have you ever eaten a meal? If you said yes to any of those questions then you'll find Stephanie Lucianovic's book hilarious. Why anyone likes or hates any kind of food is baffling even to the taste and flavor scientists out there studying the issue. As with most topics in life, whether we understand them or not, we should always laugh about them and Stephanie Lucianovic provides a lot of laughter here.
Jul 12, 2012 Millicent rated it it was amazing
Such a good book: informative--chock full of information about our responses to & likes/dislikes of certain foods. This should be required reading for parents-to-be so they can worry about one less thing when their toddler starts eating. It is written with great humor, & the footnotes almost steal the show! My favorite chapter was "Love and the Picky Eater"---so much fun to read!
Jeff Shattuck
Sep 01, 2012 Jeff Shattuck rated it it was amazing
I started this book because a friend of mine wrote it. I finished it because it's great. Truly, picky eating is not something I had ever thought about or been interested in even, but this book hooked me with its humor and fine blend of story telling and science. Even if you're a human garbage disposal, as I am (save for wine, there I'm a bit of a snob) you will like this book.
Jan 15, 2013 Thom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Finished this book in two nights of reading, and yes it was that good. Lots of research, some real science, and a good dollop of humor on a subject that is directly interesting to me and (apparently) plenty of others. I especially enjoyed the conversation with the restaurant people. Great title, but (minor nitpick) nobody actually suffers succotash in the course of the book. Recommended!
Spook Harrison
Jan 18, 2013 Spook Harrison rated it really liked it
Really, really good. A very clear voice, solid information, and an entertaining read. If you like Jen Lancaster's books you'll like this one. Furthermore, I feel more empathy for the 'particular' eaters in my family now!
Aug 26, 2012 Tracey rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Really enjoyed this. I also discovered that, for all my parents thought I was so very, very picky, they had no idea what levels of pickiness they could have had to deal with. Turns out that not liking mayo is pretty darn normal.
Kim Reed
Jul 30, 2012 Kim Reed rated it it was amazing
Stephanie is a friend but I never knew about her picky eating past. As a mom to toddlers, this book helped me feel okay about not forcing them to eat things they don't like, and know that eventually they either will or won't eat a variety of foods, but either way, it's okay.
Joy Alferness
Jul 08, 2012 Joy Alferness rated it it was amazing
Now admittedly, I am biased because the author is a friend, but I loved this book. It brings such clarity to an issue (picky eating) that affects so many people in one way or another. I recommend it without hesitation!
Jul 31, 2012 Cori rated it it was amazing
My hatred of peppers is vindicated! Stand picky, stand proud!
Jan 02, 2013 Darren rated it it was amazing
As a picky eater married to a picky eater this book was a revelation in a number of ways. First, it was nice to read scientists from different disciplines tell the author, repeatedly, that people who dislike foods don't dislike them by choice, but by biology. Whether it is because someone is an over-taster, and under-taster, mouth-feel and texture, smell or inability to smell, it is neither a choice nor an immaturity that makes an adult a picky eater.

That said, the author spent a lot of time, to
Mar 07, 2014 Evelyn rated it liked it
As a wife of someone who quite possibly has SED (Selective Eating Disorder), I wanted to read a book to understand my husband's picky eating in more depth from the perspective of another picky eater. Sure, she offers her own story, but I had to laugh when I read the list of foods she didn't eat and thought to myself, "Really? That's it?". She offers theories and a bit of scientific evidence, but I didn't believe it was enough. I thought the author was generally too neurotic and could have offere ...more
Megan Upshaw
Jul 15, 2014 Megan Upshaw rated it really liked it
At one point, I actually said out loud "oh my god these people get me!" Having been a picky eater all my life, it was good to hear stories from other grown-ups who struggle with food issues. The part that really stuck with me was about the amount of stress that picky eaters face surrounding the act of eating and how that affects digestion. Picky eaters stress a lot about what's going to be served, how people will judge you when you refuse something, will the waiter spit in my food because I'm se ...more
Sep 03, 2016 Kara rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This book started out with great promise. I enjoyed the humor, light writing, the research, and the new information I was learning (like how there are six tastes- bitter, sweet, salty, sour, umami/savory or msg, and calcium), but the middle of the book read like one bad, babbling blog post. The end was better with some good points and recipes. I liked the idea presented that 'foodies' are just socially acceptable picky eaters. The line, "...what drives a foodie's choices is bedrocked in quality, ...more
Ali Crain
Mar 13, 2013 Ali Crain rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
When I told my dad I was reading this book (for book club) and that I'd never considered myself a picky eater (I refuse to eat onions) he laughed at me and said 'you don't like your food to touch!' I replied 'true and I eat all of one food before moving on to the another. But that's a sign of control in my mind, not pickiness.'

It was an interesting book, but I'm not sure it helped me appreciate picky eaters any better (sorry!). I grew up with food as a center of our life with family get togethe
Jan 16, 2016 Fishface rated it liked it
A fast, fun read about the thousands of people out there who can't face certain foods. The author really does not go far enough, in my opinion, in finding out why people have such a horror of certain foods. After agonizing for months and paying hundreds of dollars to get her DNA analyzed, she gets no results at all -- then totally ignores the glaring evidence that she has a sensory issue that she has been successfully addressing with everyday, ordinary CBT. By the way, the succotash pictured on ...more
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As a child Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic lived for years on grilled cheese and created an elaborate system for disposing of yucky 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 ...more
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