“Suffering Succotash:” Book Review and Giveaway!

Most of you already know about my youngest child, a “selective eater” who is not [understatement alert!] so fond of the vegetables.  Over the years I’ve shared with you my frustrations, my intermittent successes (including the recipes which have led to small breakthroughs) and my musings about the different approaches parents are often advised to follow with a so-called “picky eater.”

That’s why I was especially eager to read Stephanie Lucianovic’s new book, Suffering Succotash:  A Picky Eater’s Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate.   The book seemed like a perfect way to get inside the head of a picky eater, someone who could clearly articulate what she was thinking as she recoiled from certain foods, and maybe that knowledge could help me understand my own child’s eating habits.

In Suffering Succotash, Lucianovic vividly (and humorously) describes her intense childhood food aversions and clever coping strategies, along with her surprising evolution as an adult into an omnivorous foodie.  Along the way she consults numerous scientific experts and fellow picky eaters (both current and former) to examine the issue of picky eating from almost every conceivable angle.  Among the many topics she covers are “super-tasters,” gag reflexes, the role of genetics, the impact of emotion on taste perception, sensory issues, and “feeding clinics.” There’s even an interview with a sword-swallower!

And while I can’t say that reading the book totally clarified my son’s vegetable aversions (we might need a consultation with an expert for that), I do feel helped by it.  Even though I know better than to pressure my son into eating something he doesn’t want to, in frustration I sometimes find myself doing it anyway.   But after seeing the picky eater’s side of the dinner table through Lucianovic’s eyes, I have a new appreciation of just how stressful that parental pressure can be.  I was also left with more empathy for my son’s food aversions and with greater hope that someday, like Lucianovic, he’ll move beyond his food fears.

I should note that Lucianovic writes with a chatty and at times digressive style, dropping numerous footnotes to share funny bits of trivia, going off on silly pop culture riffs, or addressing topics (like the sword-swallowing) which can feel a little beside the point  So, depending on your taste and your reasons for reading the book, you might get a somewhat impatient as you search among the jokes for solid nuggets of information about picky eating.  But it’s more likely that you’ll find yourself laughing out loud and enjoying the ride.

And now for your chance to win your very own free copy of Suffering Succotash!  Just leave a comment below by noon CST tomorrow (August 2, 2012)*** to enter the drawing.   You can tell me why you’d like to win or you can just say hi.  I’ll use a random number generator after the comment period closes to select one lucky winner and if you comment twice (e.g., to respond to another reader’s comment), I’ll use the number of your first comment to enter you in the drawing.   I’ll email you directly if you win and announce the winner on TLT’s Facebook page, too.  Good luck!


*** UPDATE!!  I inadvertently used today’s date, 8/2, when I meant tomorrow’s date, 8/3.  So today’s winner (drawn from all comments left before noon CST 8/2) will get the prize copy.  Then I’ll do another drawing from those comments entered between noon CST on 8/2 and noon CST on 8/3.  That winner will get my own (slightly) dog-eared copy of the book but with a little consolation prize thrown in!  Sorry for the confusion!  :-)


 [Blogger disclosure:  As with most of my book reviews, I received a free copy of  this book for my perusal.  However, I never accept any other form of compensation for the book reviews you see on The Lunch Tray.]

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  1. Trish Lloyd says

    Sounds like an interesting read…as a still picky eater raising a picky eater with a husband who will eat anything, I am always on the look out for material that can help him understand why we are the way are!

  2. Daphna Avizov says

    I would love to get a copy of this book since we have been dealing with this since our LO was an infant. Thanks!

  3. MC says

    Looks like a very interesting read! Still looking for an explanation for my now-12-year-old’s fruit and veggie resistance!

  4. says

    Thank you for your review of this book. I can’t wait to read and share it with my sister who has a couple of picky eaters on her hands.

  5. says

    Would love to win a copy to donate to our elementary school library. We are promoting healthy eating through our school garden and the salad bar we will have at our school this fall (thanks to saladbars2schools).

  6. Sandy says

    Great review! As someone who had gag reflexes when younger (anything winter squash), I can definitely relate. Now that I’ve got kids of my own, I’m always on the lookout to find new strategies to help them expand their palates!

  7. MelissaS says

    Would love to get this book. I have a 4yr old problem eater with sensory issues and the gag reflex problem. I hope one day he will grow out of it.

  8. Shauna says

    Recently found your blog and really enjoying it! I have a 2yo son who won’t eat a single fruit or veg and a 4 yo daughter who eats everything!

  9. Anna says

    This book sounds as though it might help me gain insight into my now 14 year old’s “difficult eating.” She still doesn’t like to combine a lot of flavors, hates most condiments, will only eat tomatoes and the occasional raw broccoli floret for veg–thank goodness for fruit!!

  10. Molly says

    As a former picky eater, I’d love to read this. Although, it probably won’t convince me to swallow a sword…

  11. Rona says

    As someone who grew up HATING tomatoes and mushrooms and now LOVES them, I think this would be an interesting read!

  12. says

    I was a fairly picky eater as a kid, but I too have come to enjoy many foods I would not eat as a kid. That said, I still hate broccoli. Just the smell of it is enough to drive me out of the room. I don’t care how it was prepared, I won’t eat it. Some things just are the way they are. I’d like to see how much of myself (and *sigh* my elder daughter) in this book.

  13. Crystal says

    Sounds interesting. My parents way of getting my brother and I tip eat was the clean plate club. Although I never had a problem with eating my brother refused to eat meat for many years, which made nutty parents think he wasn’t getting enough protein. There wasn’t a vegetarian option in our house growing up, it was very meat and potatoes.

  14. SYanik says

    Hi! I have a 5 year old that had an issue in the past with textures in foods.. since he for the most part doesn’t mind any textures at all now – I thought maybe it would be easier to get him to try new things but instead it has gotten harder! I am always looking for new ideas on what to feed him or better ways to encourage him to eat other things!

  15. says

    My 3 year old has NEVER eaten a “real” fruit or veggie or piece of meat. She only eats baby food, maybe a cracker once a week. We are in occupational therapy, and I am in tears (when she can’t see me) often. It is a difficult road. She started preschool this week and goes the ENTIRE day without eating. It is a sensory processing diagnosis. We need all the support and help we can get!

  16. says

    Looks like a great read. Whether or not I win the contest I shall acquire a copy of this book! I have picky eaters at home as well and anything that can help shed some light on the subject is very welcome info.

  17. Victoria says

    My grandson thinks spaghetti noodles, white potatoes, and ramen constitute a balanced meal. I would LOVE to figure out how to get him interested in other fruits and vegetables. He will reluctantly nibble at broccoli, an apple, corn (another GMO starch). That’s about all I can get him to try. I hope something like this book will help.

  18. Brittany says

    I would love to win this book for my 18 month old daughter. She loves to fill up on bread! Thanks for all you do. I love your posts and blog!!!

  19. Kat says

    Sounds like a great read. My 3 have varying degrees and seaons of pickiness, so I’m always looking for ways to get everyone fed.

  20. says

    My new obsession is reading about what kids eat and why. Having just read Bringing Up Bebe and French Kids Eat Everything, I think it’s time to see a different perspective.

  21. Mom in NJ says

    I’d love to read this book as maybe it will give me some clarity into my children’s food prefernces (eg. love zuchinni, won’t touch a carrot).

  22. Laura N. says

    My youngest (nearly 13) also dislikes vegetables and lots of other foods… all of my girls went through “picky” phases, but this one has not grown out of it. But she does bake her own bread (in the bread machine) and has learned to cook tilapia; so I have hope that she may branch out if she decides to try cooking veggies herself.

  23. Kristin says

    What a breath of fresh air this read would be. My boys are 17 & 12, and I’m never going to give up on their pickiness. Now, someone is adding some insight and clarity, yes plz! I’m anxious to read this and who doesn’t love a lil randomness while engrossed in a book? I’d love a copy.


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