I'm a firm believer in the "it all ends up in the same place" mentality. My aunt always lovingly criticizes my plate at Thanksgiving as I stir a bit of every food on the table into what could be considered an early New England settler version of jambalaya.
However, there are plenty of people who fall at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The fear of foods touching—formally known as brumotactillophobia (try saying that ten times fast)—comes in varying levels of severity and is believed to be a mild form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
As someone who wants all of the flavors and all of the textures at the same time, I can't help but wonder: why would someone be so put off by their foods touching? Here's what some quick research turned up.
It's a control thing
There are lots of little quirks that people have to help them feel a little bit more in control than they otherwise would, and keeping foods in their own cordoned off areas is one of them. This is especially true for younger kids who don't usually get to pick out what they're eating. At least they can be in charge of how the food will be on their plate.
They like to enjoy the flavors separately
Mashed potatoes are great. Carrots are great. Carrot-y mashed potatoes? Not so great.
They're a picky eater
Let's use a somewhat polarizing food like raisins as our example. If raisins, rice, and chicken are being served together, there's a chance that a raisin might be hidden behind a piece of chicken and then—brace yourself—a person might accidentally eat a raisin even though they hate raisins.
Keeping the foods compartmentalized ensures that they'll never unwittingly consume raisins.
It looks nicer
Even I can agree with this one. A big pile of food (a lá my Thanksgiving plate) looks gross. Arranging foods neatly is a whole lot more visually appealing.
For some people, too many textures at once can lead to a sensory overload. I had a friend in elementary school who told me that crunchy peanut butter was terrible because if he wanted peanuts, he would just eat plain peanuts. He didn't want them interrupting his smooth peanut butter.
Whether it’s due to control, taste, texture, or aesthetics people who experience brumotactillophobia have some solid reasoning behind why they don’t like their foods to touch.