And consultants to executives doing business in Asia are instructing clients on how to deal with mystery meats and other culinary surprises.Meanwhile, scientists are making headway in understanding finicky people. Gerber Products, which makes baby food, has been publishing the results of its study of the eating habits of 3,000 children aged 4 months to 24 months. Scientists have long theorized that picky eating may be an evolutionary adaptation that kept children from snacking on poisonous leaves and berries — or perhaps it’s just a form of toddler rebellion — so it isn’t surprising that half of all parents described their toddlers as picky. But Gerber also learned that most parents stop offering new foods after only three to five tries, while it can take 10 or more tries before a child accepts something new.While most people eventually develop a broader food repertoire, some do not. The Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia recently conducted a study of 50 extremely picky adults, including people who said they eat 10 or fewer foods. One woman said she’d eaten nothing but one brand of macaroni and cheese for years. Researchers learned that these people tend to be more horrified by textures than by flavors. “They don’t like surprises or boundaries” in texture, says Monell sensory psychologist Marcia Pelchat, citing lumps in tomato sauce, pulp in orange juice and even crust on bread.Although being extremely choosy can be a social burden, most therapists say they have few adult patients. The reason: Adult picky eaters find certain foods so gross that they don’t want to learn how to eat them, says Ms. Pelchat.That’s one reason many parents try to intervene when their children are young. Lori Ernsperger, co-author of “Finicky Eaters,” tells parents to schedule mealtimes, including after-school snack, and to let children play with mushrooms or help wash the Brussels sprouts. “Taking a bite can be the last thing” that happens, even after 10 to 15 playful exposures to a new food, she says. Cheri Fraker, a pediatric speech pathologist who helped develop the food-chaining therapy, says, “I got one child to eat vegetables by having them eat crunchy vegetable chips,” and then slowly moving onto oven-baked sweet potato slices and eventually other kinds of vegetables.Travel, particularly for business, can be a minefield for a conservative eater. William Hall, a consultant for U.S. China Bridge, which helps businesses make connections in China, says he has dined on donkey skin and duck tongues. He suggests that uneasy clients “just kind of nibble a little bit.”Roger Cohen, a Nyack, N.Y.-based consultant to companies doing business in Asia, recommends that picky people take a lot of rice, push food around their plates and refrain from asking “What’s that?” in a wary voice. But at a recent banquet in China, Mr. Cohen couldn’t resist inquiring about one dish. “Some kind of meat, from some kind of animal,” was the answer. He says he just smiled and helped himself to more rice.