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Is there such a thing as fear of seafood?

DrezDrez Registered User regular
Cause I think I have a legitimate, unreasonable fear of seafood. I have been hanging out with someone on and off for awhile who loves seafood and I’ve tried to be honest about what I previously thought was just a distaste for it but I have managed to turn her away from going to seafood-only places.

I recently hung out with a group of female friends and made the mistake of saying I’ve never tried oysters. I didn’t properly communicate why I have never tried oysters. Now one of them wants to go to this restaurant with me so I can try oysters for the first time. I already rescheduled once. The idea of even trying oysters has filled me with a trepidation I cannot face.

Am I weird or super-weird? Is this a thing?

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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    It's odd to have a fear of a type of food, but not unheard of completely. I'd ask why you think you're afraid of seafood though.

    There are phobias around fish and shellfish so it's a thing.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • Anon the FelonAnon the Felon In bat country.Registered User regular
    It's ok to not like some food.

    I don't like fish, any kind. It doesn't taste good to me, it feels gross in my mouth, and I generally have to chew it to mush and wash it down with water. The entire time sneering and gagging.

    So I don't eat fish. Or any seafood. Because I don't like it. I've never had crab (beyond the one crab cake I didn't enjoy), and that's ok.

    You're not super weird, you just don't like or want to try seafood.

    There's definitely something to be said about getting outside of your comfort zone, but we're talking about food here. Your life isn't going to be better because you eat sea food, nor is it going to be worse if you don't.

    Just tell your friend, in plain language: "Look, I don't want oysters. I think it's great you like them so much, but I have no interest in eating them. Want to go get tacos instead?"

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    I dunno oysters are kind of gross so that seems reasonable to me

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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Maybe you got sick once from seafood and link it with illness in your mind. Oysters have a particularly bad rep for food-borne illness.

    Oysters don't have to be raw, they are great deep-fried, though your friend will not be impressed!

  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    Was about to say what CelestialBadger said. I used to love shrimp but then ate a bad batch that made me very sick, and since then I haven't been able to stomach shrimp. Maybe you ate something weird when you were very little and that's left an unconscious impression.

  • ElvenshaeElvenshae Registered User regular
    I think there's a difference between "I do not like to eat seafood" and "I am afraid of seafood."

    The first is weird to me because I love seafood (though even I don't eat raw oysters), but is actually normal. De gustibus and all that.

    The second seems like something you might want to talk to someone about, if it's bothering you. I've usually found people who don't like food that can look back at them, so lobsters, crabs, shrimp, certain preparations of fish, etc. are out, but fried shrimp are just fine.

    As for your friend with the oysters, just tell them you don't like seafood and you're sorry you let them think you might be interested in trying oysters with them, but it's just not gonna happen.

  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    I think it’s more a fear of eating seafood. Like I don’t see a dead cooked fish on a plate and go screaming and running in the opposite direction.

    Sealife, to me, has always seemed slimy, squishy, alien, and ultimately untrustworthy. And none of those adjectives belong inside my stomach.

    Edit: Plus, aren’t oysters alive when you eat them? I...eating anything still living seems like something I just don’t want to ever do.

    Edit 2: Well, obviously not fried oysters.

    Drez on
    Switch: SW-7690-2320-9238Steam/PSN/Xbox: Drezdar
  • FryFry Registered User regular
    Oysters, lobsters, shrimp, and crabs all seem super gross, so I avoid eating them. The list of things I refuse to eat is actually pretty lengthy and not limited to seafood. I seem to be getting by just fine, there are plenty of other things to subsist on.

    Continually putting off an appointment with a friend to go do this thing you don't want to do sounds awful though. I would rip that band-aid off one way or the other: either force yourself to go eat the horrible thing so it can be over with, or force yourself to tell your friend that you really don't want to do the thing and can we please not reschedule.

  • darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    Drez wrote: »
    I think it’s more a fear of eating seafood. Like I don’t see a dead cooked fish on a plate and go screaming and running in the opposite direction.

    Sealife, to me, has always seemed slimy, squishy, alien, and ultimately untrustworthy. And none of those adjectives belong inside my stomach.

    Edit: Plus, aren’t oysters alive when you eat them? I...eating anything still living seems like something I just don’t want to ever do.

    Edit 2: Well, obviously not fried oysters.

    A flounder did my taxes once, little bastard screwed me out of a decent return.


    yes oysters are alive if you eat them raw, when they are shucked that will kill them but nobody for sure how long they live after they are shucked. Its not like they are squirming or moving at least when I have had them raw on the shell.

    If you want to start eating seafood maybe start with a variety of cooked fish or seafood. Fish sticks are a safe bet. Of course depending on where you are freshness of seafood can really put a damper on whether you enjoy it or not. How it is prepared also can dramatically change the flavors (obviously) and poorly prepared would just turn you off it.

    My dad for years wouldnt eat eel, because he had shitty eel once. Got him to try an unagi don at a place I like and he was hooked and cursed himself for never giving it a second chance. Squid done wrong can be chewy as fuck, same with octopus.

    darkmayo on
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  • ElvenshaeElvenshae Registered User regular
    Drez wrote: »
    Sealife, to me, has always seemed slimy, squishy, alien, and ultimately untrustworthy. And none of those adjectives belong inside my stomach.

    That sounds like maybe a good steaky fish like swordfish, real tuna (not the canned / pouched crap), or even salmon would be an okay thing to try first.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Drez wrote: »
    I think it’s more a fear of eating seafood. Like I don’t see a dead cooked fish on a plate and go screaming and running in the opposite direction.

    Sealife, to me, has always seemed slimy, squishy, alien, and ultimately untrustworthy. And none of those adjectives belong inside my stomach..

    Defining this as a fear or a phobia seems odd to me. Its just not palatable for you. There are many reasons that one might feel this way about foods. My boyfriend feels this way about mushrooms, if you chop them up small he doesn't actually dislike the flavor, but if you ask him to bite into a portobello its gross for him. Its a texture thing, also a fungus thing.

    I'm not a huge fan of very fermented flavors and have trouble with certain textures. Fermented soybeans are like snot, and smell like rotting, and I cannot eat them. They are fine to eat though and are a traditional Japanese food. I'm not afraid of them, its just not my deal. I have trouble with other things that trigger that smell (kombucha, sour beers).

    Its pretty normal to just have certain things that aren't delicious to you, and as a person who's highly allergic to most fish, its a pretty avoidable category that wont take away from your ability to enjoy food overall.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Oysters are just not worth the hype, I feel.

    I don't like a lot of seafood (specifically eel, shrimp, lobster, oysters) while I do like other kinds (mussels, most fish raw and cooked, scallops, octopus), mostly due to preference of taste and probably a vague allergy to shellfish as my throat tingles when I used to eat them. I decided not to chance it anymore a while back and when folks pushed me to do lobster over and over (much of my family is from Maine), I eventually just told them I didn't really like it, but would be happy to go out somewhere that had lobster and other options.

    As others have said, just tell your friend you don't want to eat oysters and to instead go somewhere else.

    The phobia level of fear for dead water animals is something mildly concerning, though.

  • l_gl_g Registered User regular
    It sounds like you have a phobia-like aversion to the ingestion of seafood, and that certainly doesn't make you an awful human being. However, it is the case that that aversion is literally controlling an aspect of your life in a way that causes you problems. Saying to your friends "I am literally afraid of eating seafood the way some people are literally afraid of spiders" would probably make them understand and that at least allows you to have a conversation about it and not be forced to eat it in the short term.

    I have the luxury of being able to travel and enjoying a lot of different food, so from my perspective, it's unfortunate when somebody can't enjoy entire swaths of food for almost any reason. From that point of view, I'd like to help people overcome aversions to food because I think it broadens the set of experiences they can share with other people in the world, but it's also literally impossible for some people: for instance, my friends with shellfish allergies would probably die if they went to Thailand because of the prevalence of dried shrimp in the food there.
    Drez wrote: »
    Sealife, to me, has always seemed slimy, squishy, alien, and ultimately untrustworthy. And none of those adjectives belong inside my stomach.

    Preparation of it hugely affects it. Raw seafood like raw oysters or sushi is going to be no bueno for you, but do you feel this way about fish and chips? Do you feel this way about a fish burger (whether the meat is ground or a filet)? Seared/fried scallops are one of the less challenging seafoods, as well, because there is nothing in their shape or texture that seems especially odd or "gross".

    A lot of people find textures of certain foods much more unappealing than tastes, so the whole business of "slimy food" is not unique to seafood. That seafood has the potential to be "fishy" is also certainly off-putting to people who aren't used to it, and can be bad even for people who are.

    Cole's Law: "Thinly sliced cabbage."
  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    Drez wrote: »
    Sealife, to me, has always seemed slimy, squishy,
    I mean, some of it, sure? But that's not typically the stuff that gets eaten in the U.S. Table fish aren't slimey, and they're no squishier than any other meat. Take a raw tun or salmon cut, put it next to a cut of beef or chicken, they're all going to feel meaty.

    Seafood used to be an automatic 'no' for me - I never questioned why, I just had an aversion. Then I lived abroad for a while where I couldn't avoid it even if I wanted to, and I realized what I'd been missing out on.
    Edit: Plus, aren’t oysters alive when you eat them?[/quote]
    No, they are quite, if recently, deceased when they hit the table.

    Gabriel_Pitt on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    A lot of meat is slimy without being cooked. Chicken, very very slimy.

  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor changed Registered User regular
    Elvenshae wrote: »
    Drez wrote: »
    Sealife, to me, has always seemed slimy, squishy, alien, and ultimately untrustworthy. And none of those adjectives belong inside my stomach.

    That sounds like maybe a good steaky fish like swordfish, real tuna (not the canned / pouched crap), or even salmon would be an okay thing to try first.

    Start with the mammals. Whale is just briny steak!

  • RollsavagerRollsavager Registered User regular
    There are a lot of (probably great) recommendations for "gateway seafood" here, but I just want to reaffirm that it's absolutely fine to avoid it! I don't eat meat. Some people can't stand cilantro. If seafood just isn't your jam, no one deserves to make you feel weird about it.

    If you feel physically uncomfortable sitting at a table where seafood is served, that's another thing. But as you've presented things in this thread, it feels like a mountain/molehill situation.

  • ElvenshaeElvenshae Registered User regular
    Yeah, I mean, let me be clear: if you don’t want to eat seafood, then just don’t eat it. Ignore my suggestions! I know lots of people who just don’t like seafood, so I just don’t invite them over when I’m grilling swordfish.

    If, however, you’re open to trying it, then there are definitely ways to avoid the slimier end of the spectrum (like saying hell no to raw oysters).

  • PeccaviPeccavi Registered User regular
    Assuming oysters are like the mussels I had when I was young, you don't want to eat oysters.

  • SadgasmSadgasm Deluded doodler A cold placeRegistered User regular
    There most certainly is. Do you think HP Lovecraft just randomly thought "Hey, you know whats scary? People with fish faces and face tentacles". He was also afraid of interracial marriage, but that was a separate fear

  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Sadgasm wrote: »
    There most certainly is. Do you think HP Lovecraft just randomly thought "Hey, you know whats scary? People with fish faces and face tentacles". He was also afraid of interracial marriage, but that was a separate fear

    Then why did he write a story about interracial marriage with fish...

  • SadgasmSadgasm Deluded doodler A cold placeRegistered User regular
    Sadgasm wrote: »
    There most certainly is. Do you think HP Lovecraft just randomly thought "Hey, you know whats scary? People with fish faces and face tentacles". He was also afraid of interracial marriage, but that was a separate fear

    Then why did he write a story about interracial marriage with fish...

    Because it was supposed to be bad that all those sailors married the fish. Though to be frank, he managed to make an impressively poor case against interspecies breeding, since the story specifically mentions that Deep Ones and their hybrid offspring are biologically immortal and get to live in fantastic underwater cities full of gold.The reader was just supposed to view the dillution of anglo-saxon blood to be a bad thing objectively.

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Just out of curiosity, there is a sexualisation of oysters in the common culture and I'm wondering if specifically feeling a fear of going to eat oysters with this lady is more about a fear of doing some flirtatious type thing with this lady?

  • SadgasmSadgasm Deluded doodler A cold placeRegistered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    Just out of curiosity, there is a sexualisation of oysters in the common culture and I'm wondering if specifically feeling a fear of going to eat oysters with this lady is more about a fear of doing some flirtatious type thing with this lady?

    Nah, oysters do look vaguely like lady business, but really, the fear is probably more connected to the fact that you're eating shells full of goo and you're afraid you're going to get grossed out in front of her.

  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    I avoid eating kingdom animalia alive. Deepfried octopus-bits? Done. Still suffocating octopus? Underdone.

  • HollerHoller Registered User regular
    As someone who loves seafood enough that disliking/being allergic to it would basically be a dealbreaker for me in any kind of serious romantic relationship, I don't really think your fear is that weird. I mean, totally weird to me in that it is not something I can fathom feeling myself, but an instinctual fear of most seafood doesn't seem weirder to me than instinctual fear of various other creepy crawlies. Crabs are the most delicious thing on this earth but they are basically giant sea bugs that eat poop so being grossed out about them doesn't strike me as that extreme.

    Out of curiosity, do you have any other anxiety issues? Because doing something you aren't sure about / are pretty sure you'll hate / around someone else / who is good-naturedly pressuring you to do it and expecting you to be happy about it... that seems like an anxiety trigger that would probably exacerbate bad feelings about seafood. Maybe not relevant here, but if it was me I'd be having a lot of irrational anxious feelings about it that I wouldn't get if I was just thinking about buying a scallop and cooking it at home and trying to eat it.

    Also, tbh, consumption of seafood given the size/growth of the human population is enormously unsustainable and will probably collapse at some point anyway, so the more people who hate it the better. You should be honest with your friends about your extreme distaste for seafood, and if they give you shit about it or try to force it on you, they are acting like bad friends and they should feel bad.

  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    It's good to not eat tuna. People eat too much tuna. They aren't leaving enough for me.

  • ElvenshaeElvenshae Registered User regular
    PLA wrote: »
    It's good to not eat tuna. People eat too much tuna. They aren't leaving enough for me.

    Except for canned tuna. Other people can have that. And cats, I guess? They can have it, too.

    Leave the real tuna for me.

  • SmrtnikSmrtnik job boli zub Registered User regular
    Seafood allergy is a real thing too. A co-worker has it and he has to be real careful so he doesn't end up in the hospital.

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  • ThroThro pgroome@penny-arcade.com Registered User regular
    Sadgasm wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    Just out of curiosity, there is a sexualisation of oysters in the common culture and I'm wondering if specifically feeling a fear of going to eat oysters with this lady is more about a fear of doing some flirtatious type thing with this lady?

    Nah, oysters do look vaguely like lady business, but really, the fear is probably more connected to the fact that you're eating shells full of goo and you're afraid you're going to get grossed out in front of her.

    They've been considered an aphrodisiac. I don't think this is Drez's issue though, since it's all seafood.

    I actually had a friend like this, who just disliked all seafood. He eventually came around on sushi; small pieces with other things seemed to help.

    So to answer your question Drez; you are weird but not super weird. It is a thing.

  • bwaniebwanie Posting into the void Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    Hey, hey universe. Hey asshole, look at the people posting in this thread. Maybe next time have one of THEM develop an oversensitive reaction to seafood huh?


    (I love seafood and since about 3 years I can't eat more than a few bites before excruciating stomach pain sets in.)




    bwanie on
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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    My mum is grossed out by slimy seafood, but likes well-cooked seafood. I think I prefer the slimier stuff, like sushi.

    We have a natural instinct to avoid slimy food because it's one of the signs of a food being off.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    There is a difference between fish and shellfish. You can be allergic to one but not the other.

    I have some kind of shellfish sensitivity and I assume that informs my distaste for most shellfish. That said, I love calamari even though I know I'll feel a bit off for half a day afterwards. Bivalves and arthropods just put me off. I look at an oyster on the halfshell and I just think to myself "why would I ever put that in my mouth unless I'm literally starving". Same with clams and mussels (eventhough I cook mussels for my wife and she says I cook them well); I will use the liquor when I'm making sauce, but no interest in the meat.

    I quite like fish, particularly raw. Fish tend to have little solid fat reserves (typically most solid fats will be removed in the cleaning process) except in belly meat for the longer lived fish. So most fat in fish is in oils. Generally the oilier the fish, the more likely and more quickly it will have a fishy smell/taste, and usually that is what is off-putting.

    Edit: Also, a lot of fish meat will start to flake right when they get to just-to-done to just barely overdone. It's not something I've seen much in other meats, but it makes for a difference in texture, which may be off-putting.

    I don't quite understand the fear aspect. I mean if someone puts a plate in front of me and says it's fugu, well then I'd be afraid, cause that's risking death if not prepared properly. But if someone put a beef tongue, or bull testicles, or raw oysters, or a thousand year old egg in front of me, then I wouldn't be afraid. I'd just be like "I'm not eating that". I'll try pretty much anything, twice, but if I don't like it then I'm not gong to eat it again. I think your friends should respect that you don't want to eat some things.

    Djeet on
  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    My mum is grossed out by slimy seafood, but likes well-cooked seafood. I think I prefer the slimier stuff, like sushi.

    We have a natural instinct to avoid slimy food because it's one of the signs of a food being off.

    Uhh... sushi isn't slimy. If it is, then something is _seriously_ wrong, per your last statement above.

  • CalicaCalica Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    Raw fish shouldn't be slimy per se, but the fish in sushi rolls tends to get pretty slippery from being surrounded by moist things. Although it's fair to say it's a slimy food compared to, say, grilled chicken, imho.

    Anyway, I don't think we have a good word for the texture of raw fish. To me it feels almost velvety.

    edit: re: actual topic: There's nothing wrong with having an intense dislike of certain foods, as long as you can meet your nutritional requirements. If you're uncomfortable even being at the same table with it (for reasons other than not liking the smell, which is also perfectly legit), then yeah, that's an anxiety issue that you should consider addressing, because it's probably negatively affecting you in other ways too.

    Calica on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    "Velvety" is a much more appetizing way of putting it :)

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    The way you seem to feel about seafood is the way I feel about eating anything that is obviously from the head of an animal. I am not scared of dead heads of animals, maybe I think it's weird to have one around, I dunno. Ask me to eat tongue, or head cheese, or a fish head, or that muscle in the jaw or jowl or whatever that everyone thinks is so great, and you have a me-shaped hole in the wall with a little cloud of white cartoon dust left behind. Try to corner me into eating it and I will run you over without a second thought on my way out. There is no way. No I will not consider it. It isn't an option to be considered. They are not food to me and do not register as such in the same way that hair or feathers or urine don't. They aren't for consumption.

    Again, I am not scared of these things. I have dissected many an animal for school and it wasn't a huge deal. I have dissected heads of things and diagrammed muscle groups. I will even try to keep down the contents of my stomach while you eat them, because we're friends. But if you continually insist that I need to try them or even think the attempt is funny enough that you keep joking about it then we can't be friends because it isn't funny to me and if I tell you it bothers me for real I expect you to stop.

    You can tell them that you'll go and try their stupid oysters after they go to this specialty place that serves only different varieties of poop. The goat is great, very firm, but have you tried the runny hippo diarrhea? Rule 34 tells me that there is such a place, but you can be pretty sure they wouldn't agree to eat there because for the vast majority poop is not food. You rinse it off of your food. You can technically eat it in the sense that you can eat anything you can make fit into your mouth, but that doesn't make it food.

    Really, they should be considerate of that. They should not be gaping assholes by inviting you to seafood-only places and putting you on the spot about it. If they can't manage that then you can always tell them you'll hang out with them any time and any place where you aren't expected to eat. If they're doing dinner and a movie, you can meet them at the theater, because really, fuck that.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    Yeah, anticipation/idea of eating shellfish, or any food that can look at me, is usually almost as bad as actually eating it. It's like when i get sympathy icks from seeing someone touch their eye.

    While you might have a stronger negative mental reaction to the thought of eating oysters than many people who simply don't line them, it doesn't seem abnormally so.

    I'd definitely let your friends know its something you're not interested in doing.

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  • l_gl_g Registered User regular
    ceres wrote: »
    Really, they should be considerate of that. They should not be gaping assholes by inviting you to seafood-only places and putting you on the spot about it. If they can't manage that then you can always tell them you'll hang out with them any time and any place where you aren't expected to eat. If they're doing dinner and a movie, you can meet them at the theater, because really, fuck that.

    From the tiny amount of context that is available to us from the OP, I'd presume that the act isn't being done out of "let's be jerks to this guy haha" as "this person's never had xyz, so let's take them to the place with the BEST xyz, so that they can know how great xyz is!"

    @Drez said it themselves:
    Drez wrote: »
    I didn’t properly communicate why I have never tried oysters.

    There's a lot none of us know about this situation, but one thing's for sure: the inviting party doesn't know about @Drez's discomfort with seafood to the extent expressed here. They need to know.

    Cole's Law: "Thinly sliced cabbage."
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    I did notice that, and communicating is the first step. After that though, I have little tolerance for that sort of thing.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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