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

Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $4.01 (27%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

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 graduate of culinary school who became a cheesemonger and then a food writer. Along the way, she realized just how common her plight was. It wasn’t surprising to discover that picky eating is an issue for millions of kids, but who knew there are even support groups for adults who can’t overcome it? Yet remarkably little is known about the science of picky eating, and cultural and historical questions abound. Are picky eaters destined to ascend to a higher plane of existence, and what happens when picky eaters fall in love or go to restaurants? How can you tell if you’re a “supertaster”? How does the gag reflex affect pickiness (and what secrets do sword swallowers impart to help overcome it)?

Suffering Succotash is a wide-angle look into the world of picky eating, told by a writer who’s been in the culinary trenches. With wit and charm, through visits to laboratories specializing in genetic analysis, attempts to infiltrate the inner workings of a “feeding” clinic, and interviews with fellow picky eaters and adventurous foodies young and old, Stephanie explores her own food phobias and gets to the bottom of what repulses us about certain foods, what it really means to be a picky eater, and what we can do about it.

Editorial Reviews


“Using humor, gusto, and her sensitive if skeptical palate to great effect, Stephanie Lucianovic explains the mechanics of picky eating. She shows us why we like some foods and not others, and illuminates the mysteries of our sense of taste. It takes a picky eater to understand picky eaters, and we should all be grateful for Lucianovic’s inspired work.”—Amanda Hesser, co-founder of and author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook

“As a diner who will gladly eat the eyeballs off a shrimp, but who recoils in horror at the site of a raisin in an oatmeal cookie, I adored Suffering Succotash. Stephanie Lucianovic's charming and hilarious exploration of why we hate the foods we hate is packed to the gills with research on everything from sword-swallowers to supertasters and yet reads like a guilty pleasure. I couldn't put it down."—Suzanne Morrison, author of Yoga Bitch

"Lucianovic proves that hanging out with a picky eater doesn't have to be torture--do not judge the picky eater, just laugh as she learns to enjoy cruciferous vegetables."—Beth Lisick, author of Helping Me Help Myself and co-creator of Porchlight Storytelling Series

“Hilarious and honest, Suffering Succotash is a fascinating read if you’ve ever gagged on your greens (or know someone who has).”—Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, authors of Spoiled and founders of

"These other strands, and the seamless (and often hilarious) manner in which Lucianovic connects them to the scientific questions and answers, make Suffering Succotash the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book."—

"Stephanie Lucianovic, a culinary school graduate, ex-cheesemonger, and food writer, understands the picky eater's pain."—

"It's a funny and fascinating ride through the world of taste-bud analysis and the biggest bugaboo of picky eaters -- 'texture violations.'”—San Jose Mercury News

"[F]or a non-picky eater like me, reading Suffering Succotash is a necessary, if guilt-inducing wake-up call...Fortunately, Stephanie delivers the news with such aplomb and humor that I didn’t wind up self-flagellating with a garland of raisins for too long.”—KQED Bay Area Bites

About the Author

Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a freelance writer and editor in the San Francisco Bay Area. A former book editor and graduate of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Massachusetts, Stephanie also was the Top Chef recapper for the popular site Television Without Pity, helped develop a line of cookbooks for Williams-Sonoma, and worked in the prep kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. She is the author of CocktailSmarts and VampireSmarts, an contributor, and was featured in Best Food Writing 2005.Stephanie lives with her mathematician husband and hirsute baby in Menlo Park. Follow her online at and @grubreport on Twitter.

Product Details

  • File Size: 292 KB
  • Print Length: 239 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0399537503
  • Publisher: Perigee; 1 edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0073XV57E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #537,684 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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 for a house guest who showed up the day the book arrived, and expected me to actually hang out with him for the few days he was visiting, I'd have finished the book the day I received it. It's engaging from the first page, and had me laughing out loud while learning a lot chapter after chapter. I am not a picky eater (aside from not eating meat) and admit that I often have rolled my eyes at picky eaters; I thought they were limiting themselves unduly, and were actually boring in their inability to expand their palate! I had absolutely no grasp of the physiological aspects of their revulsion and the agony they can suffer just by thinking of certain foods. Reading about the embarrassment (and shame) that selective eaters feel about their food preferences elicited my compassion instead of contempt. I have a new-found sympathy for people who suffer from this, and will not be rolling my eyes in exasperation at them anymore. I am actually grateful that someone wrote this book; it's just a bonus that it's someone as funny, thoughtful, and smart as Stephanie who did write it.

The author includes some recipes for selective eaters to try, and tips for restaurant dining, being a gracious guest, etc.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a surprisingly fun read! July 7, 2012
I'm a really good cook, but my secret shame is that there are certain foods I refuse to eat, talk about, or think about because they are disgusting (to me). For years, I thought I had to hide the fact that I hated certain foods because my friends thought of me as an adventurous eater. This book not only points out the science around picky eating, but it also talks about it in such a clever, engaging way that makes you feel like you're not alone... and that it's TOTALLY NORMAL to have foods you don't like -- whether it's texture or taste or no rational reason at all.

Stephanie is a great storyteller, and took a topic that could have come across sounding preachy and boring and instead made it hilarious and thoughtful and inclusive. I really liked this book -- and I've bought copies for friends who are sort-of-secret picky eaters, too. They loved it!

p.s. -- SUCH a great title, too, I think.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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 riveting page turner full of funny ripostes, insightful anecdotes and I-never-thought-of-that-but-it-totally-makes-sense! connections, and ultimately delivered a memoir-ish tale that had me howling with laughter and aha-ing with ephiphanies all over the place (so *that's* why I gag every time I take my giant probiotic horse pill, even before it gets to my mouth!). The fact that she makes the science behind it all both entertaining and easy to understand is a sign of her talent.

Also, she interviews sword swallowers. !!!

Stephanie's husband Mark was definitely the sleeper star of the book. His tendency to overthink everything in a way only someone with a PhD in Mathematics could was portrayed hilariously, and his inclusion is pure genius.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very relateable! February 20, 2013
By Rachel
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book really hit home for me as a 31-year old picky eater. It's a relief to know there are more of us out there! Don't let the first few chapters turn you off, however. I wish the author would have skipped or written less about all the scientific stuff and delved more into the social aspect of picky eating, which I found a lot more interesting and humorous. At the end, she includes a few simple recipes to try and start being more adventurous in your eating. I like that the author never pushes us to "get over it" like she did. There were actually a few times I wanted to show my parents sections and say "See, I'm not the only one!" A good book worth your read if you are a picky eater or even if you wonder why someone is that way.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Well written, well researched. A personal history filled with humor and information for those with eating disorders.
Published 8 days ago by Terrie Schmidt-Crosby
5.0 out of 5 stars Casual understanding to why eating is tough...
Great book to help remove the trivial nature of why we have the shortcomings we do when it comes to food, health and being crazy because of it. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Kevin Brink
5.0 out of 5 stars Mi Gente
I won a copy of this book in an online contest. It was like finally coming home to my people. I read it in a weekend and found myself nodding at parts while laughing hysterically. Read more
Published 20 months ago by kp in PA
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read!
I got this book because I've always been a picky eater (I'm 32 now and still am). I'm only half way through, but it is very well written and hard to put down. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Jennifer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for food lovers and haters of all ages
As a specialist in treating eating disorders this book is a veritable gold mine of information for patients and families. Read more
Published 23 months ago by K K Fitzpatrick
3.0 out of 5 stars Fresh topic well treated
I bought this book because other reviewers found it entertaining and funny. The writer's style is current and lively, but I didn't find it all that funny, really... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Henri IV
5.0 out of 5 stars must-read for picky eaters and those who love them
Well-researched and extremely well-written with a good helping of humor and insight. What a relief to know there are others out there like me! Read more
Published on October 30, 2012 by Ghilliedancer
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Amusing
I guess I always thought of myself as a picky eater. I don't think that any more. The author investigates her own pickiness by talking to researchers and sufferers, and comes up... Read more
Published on August 8, 2012 by LBingham
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
I've been a fan of Stephanie's online writing for years and, as an adult particular eater, was quite interested to read this. Very interesting book. Read more
Published on July 18, 2012 by K. Hirsch
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and informative- a great read.
Warning: only read this book in public if you are ok with laughing loudly about every other page and attracting a few odd stares. Read more
Published on July 14, 2012 by Sara
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More About the Author

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for,, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED's Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED's Emmy-award winning show "Check, Please! Bay Area."

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater's Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters which Scientific American called "hilarious" and "the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn't think he or she wants to read a popular science book."

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats and has been blogging at The Grub Report for a decade.


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