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Food Neophobia – And Why We Always Order the Same Food

Have you ordered take-out in the past few weeks? What did you order? For many people the answer would probably be either pizza, pasta or a burger – maybe even sushi. We always tend to fall back on the food we are comfortable with because we already know it is good. What beats your favorite pizza from your favorite restaurant on a Friday evening with friends, right? It is probably better to not risk ordering something you do not like, especially when your money is on the line.

Food neophobia is a phenomenon that has been increasingly researched in recent years with the rising popularity of food tourism. Along with communication difficulties, table manners and safety anxieties, it makes life hard for a tourist. It is basically the fear of trying new and different food. There are several reasons for why people might not want to try something new like the smell, appearance, health/diet concerns and convenience. A previous bad experience can also severely impact your readiness to try something similar. Having food neophobia is not necessarily a bad thing in itself; it is a protection mechanism of your body to hinder you from eating something harmful. However, it is a shame to miss out on the delicious cuisines of other cultures.

Why you are missing out

Trying the local and ethnic food of a destination you are traveling to gives tremendous insights into what the culture is like. There are hardly more authentic experiences out there than to sit down in a small family-run restaurant hidden away from the tourist hotspots to be served some of the best food you ever had. It also connects people – struggling through an especially spicy dish together creates a special bond for sure! Not only does food connect you to others, but it offers a great opportunity to broaden your own horizon. Food is very important to us as we eat every day, so why not make your everyday life more exciting? I´m not saying you need start eating insects all of a sudden, but you could start with a local restaurant like Afghan Fresh, Ondel Ondel or Roti Palace here in Leeuwarden.

All in all, just work yourself up step by step! I personally also get too cozy in my comfort zone way too often, but I do study and live in a diverse environment where I am constantly discovering new things – even when it comes to food. It might be much easier for certain people to try out something new, but that does not mean you should stop experimenting. Maybe someday we will even be able to eat insects as a snack! That is what X-Honours is all about: to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone. Especially the pillar “innovation” relates to this as trying out new things can lead you too many new ways of looking at them differently. So, go broaden your own (food) horizon!

– Written by Laura Kaiser

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