The durian is a scary fruit even before you open it.
The durian is a scary fruit even before you open it. Lizzie Philips

Earlier this month, I finally faced my own personal greatest food fear and tasted some fresh durian. In the end, it didn’t make me a convert to the controversial fruit’s fan club, but it did prove to be an enlightening experience. I didn’t like it, but I feel much more open to trying things like durian candy. Getting over my fear managed to broaden my horizons.

To celebrate having conquered my fear, I invited Atlas Obscura readers to tell us about their own experiences overcoming food fears. You wrote in to share stories about everything from conquering a life-long aversion to eggs to suddenly being confronted with a seafood dish that was still alive. The results of these brave taste tests were equally varied, but every single one of your stories was relatable and entertaining.

We’ve assembled a collection of our favorite responses below. If there’s still a food out there that you can’t bring yourself to eat, perhaps these stories will inspire you to finally take a chance and try it.

pittaya/CC BY 2.0

Feared Food: Sushi

Describe the experience of actually trying it for the first time.

“It was life-changing. The flavors are amazing.”

Did you like it?

“It was AMAZING! I’ve been making up for lost time ever since and it’s now one of my favorite meals!” — Nicole, Tampa, Florida

Poohjay/CC BY 2.0

Feared Food: Odorigui (Ice Gobys)

Describe the experience of actually trying it for the first time.

“I was living in rural Japan on a JET Program and was invited by a bar owner friend to the local ‘restaurant owners group’ party to try something new. I walked in the door and everyone was downing small shot glasses of live fish (about the size of a minnow) as if it were some kind of fraternity hazing ritual. Apparently, odori-gui (literally ‘dance eating’) is a Japanese delicacy consisting of eating still live seafood where the ‘fun’ comes from the consumed creature dancing its way from your mouth, down your esophagus, and then writhing and dying in your stomach. I was handed a glass of my own to try. My strategy was simple: let the fish die in the glass, and then drink up. I waited patiently until the fish in the glass stopped moving. And then I tried it. The moment the ice gobies hit my tongue, they instantly revived and started to struggle. I struggled as well. After a good 30 seconds of wrestling them around in my mouth, I had to spit them out.”

Did you like it?

“In my three years in rural Japan, this was the only food I ever had to spit back out. I did not like it. But, given enough beer and with enough courage, I probably would try it again.” — Andy (“Mack”) McCarthy, Houston, Texas

Jorge Gonzalez/CC BY-SA 2.0

Feared Food: Pig Intestines

Describe the experience of actually trying it for the first time.

“The taste was exactly like the scent of a barnyard: dirt and manure. I chewed twice, horrified each time, then managed to gulp it down. My husband was appalled that I swallowed it; he spat his into his napkin.”

Did you like it?

“No. Never. Even though some people have told me I probably got intestines that weren’t properly cleaned. Never taking a chance of getting that taste in my mouth again!” — Jenny Gibbons, Portland, Oregon

Maxmajestic/CC BY 2.5

Feared Food: Balut

Describe the experience of actually trying it for the first time.

“Our family visited Cambodia, and our guide suggested we try one. I was terrified but my 7-year-old dug right in. I figured if he could eat it, then so could I. It was delicious! I was afraid of eating beaks and feathers, but after stirring it up, it was like chicken soup with a really pungent garlic chili sauce.”

Did you like it?

“I most definitely would eat it again. But only in a roadside stall in Cambodia!” — Michelle, Saskatchewan, Canada

Helen Cook/CC BY-SA 2.0

Feared Food: Raw Tomatoes

Describe the experience of actually trying it for the first time.

“I have accidentally ingested tiny bits of raw tomatoes various times over my 52 years, but I have an extreme aversion… like I would rather find and eat a fly in my food. I have no idea why raw tomatoes create such a problem, but I can’t even cut them. I LOVE cooked tomatoes in pasta sauce and salsa, but I have to leave the room if someone is even cutting them. We grow them in our garden, and I was in a fix where I needed to cut some up to cook them and I was home alone… So I just bit my lip, held my breath, used a sharp knife, and got through them quickly. I still can’t bring myself to eat them raw though. I have eaten armadillo in Costa Rica, insects in Mexico, and Guinea Pig in Peru, so I am an adventurous eater. I would rather eat any of these things a thousand times rather than have one bit of a raw tomato.”

Did you like it?

“I’m going to be fine if I never eat another raw tomato in my life, so I guess I haven’t really overcome my biggest food fear.” — Wendy Bigler, Nagano, Japan

Fabio Sola Penna/CC BY 2.0

Feared Food: Escargot

Describe the experience of actually trying it for the first time.

“We went to a two-Michelin-star restaurant, L’Escargot Montorgueil, in Paris 49 years ago. The specialty, of course, was snails. I had never eaten one, but ordered some as an appetizer. The waiter brought the dish and stood by as I forked the first little morsel out of its shell. It wasn’t little, and it had rather long ‘horns’ sticking out of its head. I really didn’t want to eat it, but managed to choke it down. The waiter asked, in French, if it was to my taste, and I responded that it was ‘tres bon.’ He went away, and I worked my way through more snails, especially enjoying the garlic butter that enveloped the snails. And the bread! And the wine!”

Did you like it?

“Yes, after a few snails, I really liked them! Yes, I have eaten them again, but wouldn’t without the garlic butter and bread to go with!” — Kris Quinn, Washington

CSU Extension FSHN/Public Domain

Feared Food: Eggs

Describe the experience of actually trying it for the first time.

“I found eggs horrifying and revolting until I turned 40. A neighbor asked me to make deviled eggs for a party. I spent so much time and energy on the dish that I figured I might as well try it. Oh my god, it was the greatest thing I’d eaten in ages. I now eat at least a dozen hard-boiled eggs every week. I’ve even explored poached (awesome) and scrambled (ok).”

Did you like it?

“Still not big on fried.” — Kirsten, New York

VirtualWolf/CC BY-SA 2.0

Feared Food: Blueberries

Describe the experience of actually trying it for the first time.

“I liked them until, as a child, I saw a worm crawling out on one. I didn’t eat them again until I was in my 20s.”

Did you like it?

“Yes, I have bushes in my backyard!” — Laurel, San Francisco, California

If you have a food fear of your own to share, head over to our community forums and tell us about it!

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