15 Recipes We Hated as Kids, But Can't Stop Eating Now
..and some recipes that changed our minds
This article is part of our monthly issue “#ThrowbackNovember,” in which we’ll explore various aspects of childhood memory through the lens of food. We’ll share fun recipes that riff on those memories and a slew of fantastic videos featuring our team in hopes that you’ll watch, share, and comment on with your own nostalgia-filled takes. Check out this link to find an overview of all our weekly topics, stories, recipes, and more.
Like most kids, I too loved simple food and had a tendency to dislike anything green or bitter. My favorite thing to eat was freshly made rice mixed with ghee, salt, and pepper and my Avva (grandma) would shape the rice into bite-sized balls. Now, as an adult, my fridge is always stocked with leafy greens (like spinach), I enjoy complex flavors, and basically can't exist without coffee. I also dedicate much time, effort, and money to keep a steady supply of karela—a bitter melon found throughout Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. It’s popularly disliked by kids in these regions (my younger self included), but I’ve learned to love it and appreciate its superfood-like qualities.
It’s surely amusing how our tastes tend to evolve over time and we grow to love the same foods that were once proper meltdown material. I asked some of the Kitchen Stories editors to spill about their most hated foods or ingredients as kids, why they hated them, and recipes they now swear by as adults, obviously, using that once hated ingredient. Here’s what they had to say!
Devan, Managing Editor
Thanks to my extra picky eating habits, I found it many times more difficult to think of the specific foods I hated as opposed to the limited range of foods I actually liked when I was a kid. However, the thing I remember hating the most (even more than onions), the thing deserving of my personal childhood crown of dishonor, was lettuce. I categorized all things leafy as tasting like crunchy water—horrible. I could think of nothing worse than a salad, which is certainly a shame as almost every weeknight the family table would include a big bowl of (now I know, delicious!) salad to be passed around the table. My grandpa knew my deep seeded hatred of lettuce, yet always asked me if I’d like some salad tonight—a question to which I would typically snarl in response. Salads are still not my favorite plate of food (I mean, are they anyone’s?) but I’ll happily eat them. A far cry from my younger years, I even find myself craving really good salads, like a lyonnaise, cobb salad, or a spunky cauliflower one.
Cauliflower salad with apples and roasted chickpeas
Xueci, Associate Food Editor
For the majority of my childhood, I preferred rice over noodles. I especially disliked the soggy, soft noodles served in a starchy soup with no real toppings served at my boarding school canteen—a bowl basically lacking any real texture. Whenever there were noodles for dinner, I was always bummed. But the older I got, I tried proper noodle dishes and started appreciating them a lot more. Now I can eat noodles for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a midnight snack. I even started to develop noodle recipes for work, which the five year-old me could never have imagined.
Dan dan mian (Spicy Sichuan noodles)
Easy chicken ramen
Shanghai hot sauce noodles (La jiang mian)
Ruby, Senior Food Editor
I was one of those kids who would only eat fish if it came smooshed into a rectangle and crumb-coated into the white bread of the sea: fish fingers. Anchovies, for example, were anathema to me: wriggly looking, fishy tasting, and mouth-puckeringly salty. True, my only encounter with them was when I was forced to pick them off a pizza, or worse when I missed one, and accidentally bit into their pungency—I’ll save you the tantrum that ensued. But fast forward to now and you can barely get me to put a jar of anchovies down (I’ve been known to eat an entire tin of Ortiz anchovies alone, in one sitting, mostly with my fingers). Good anchovies balance umami, sweetness, and briny saltiness. Dissolved into oils, sauces and dressings they add a baseline kick of this trifecta. The past can stay there, there’s no looking back for me.
Pasta with white beans and anchovy croutons
Brunch Caesar salad
Make grandma-style pizza with Ruby
Andreas, Associate Food Editor
When I think about my most hated childhood food, kohlrabi, I still shiver, even though I enjoy eating it today. Back then, it’s almost transparent, white color and soft texture evoked strong feelings in me: I usually started sulking and would rather have dry bread for dinner than my mum’s creamy kohlrabi casserole. Today, however, I like it in its many forms: thinly sliced as a salad, in asian-inspired dishes, or from the oven, just like mum used to make.
Creamy kohlrabi, orange, and radicchio salad
Asian kohlrabi salad
Kohlrabi and potato casserole
Prerana, Editorial Assistant
Growing up, any dish with uncooked tomatoes was absurd to me. I didn't mind them if they were cooked out in a curry or sauce, perhaps mainly because I couldn't pick them out. I wasn’t a fan of the tangy taste, funky smell, or slimy but chewy texture and I hated them well into my late teenage years. If there were tomatoes in a sandwich or on a burger, it might as well have been ruined. The turning point for me was a really good pasta I tried at Pizza Hut (I was as confused as you are), almost a decade ago. Now, I add fresh tomatoes to everything! Whether I’m making a classic BLT sandwich, a wholesome salad, or freshening up a plate of burrata… I cannot, and will not, stop eating tomatoes.
5-ingredient classic BLT (Bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich)
Grilled corn and tomato salad
Tomato dates jam with burrata cheese
So here we are, being our best grown-up selves and making peace with the things we hated. Whether it’s eating our greens, seafood, noodles, kohlrabi, tomatoes, I’m here to tell you we did good—our parents should be proud!
We’d love to hear more about the foods you hated as a child, but love now and recipes that changed your mind! Let us know in the comments below!
Published on November 12, 2020