As much as I like to cook and try new things, I'm not immune to having said at some point or another, I'm not going to try that food because of...xyz, not even giving it a chance. Given that we are all such different people with different tastes, you can't really base your own tastes on what others have said about a certain food or cultures food, you have to base it on your own experience. Now obviously if you have an aversion to say, spicy food, and the food being presented is spicy, you have a background experience that may cause you to not try that food or foods like it, but just like learning another language, or experiencing another cultures music or traditions, or even your own, you learn by the experience and taking a chance and exposing yourself to the possibilities of something different being wonderful.
If you aren't already a person who digs right in to new dishes on first site, there are some ways you can get yourself into the habit of trying new foods that hopefully won't leave you gagging.
1. Try one new ingredient each week
When you go on your grocery run, pick out some new ingredient---veg, fruit, meat, spice, etc. that you've never tried before and find a way to incorporate it into stuff you already eat or go whole hog, so to speak, and make a dish centered around that ingredient. Often times we don't try things because we simply don't know what they are. Dishes and ingredients become less scary and no longer unknown to us if we try them.
2. Go on a food adventure with someone in the know
If you've never had Indian food or Thai food or Danish Food or Nigerian food, or what have you, ask a friend who loves that style of food or who was born into that culture to take you on a trip to their favorite restaurant or if they have the skill, to cook for you or teach you their favorite dishes. They can explain dishes that you might like based on your tastes and explain ingredients and menu items if they aren't listed in the menu itself.
3. Like your parents always told you, take at least 3 bites
When faced with a dish you have no clue about, give it the old 3 bite try. If you don't like it, at least you tried it. By putting parameters on the experience...aka, three bites and I'm done, it's less daunting than having to conquer a whole entire dish. Just because you try it, even in front of others, doesn't mean you have to like it or love it, but again, you're opening yourself up to the possibility of it actually being something you like or love.
4. Eat off a friends plate
Order what you like, but ask a friend or family member if you can try a bit of what they are having. You don't have to commit to their entire dish if you try it and don't like it, so the pressure to not waste or to be disgusted or not like it, is off of you.
5. Go online and find out how the dish is made
We're visual creatures as well, and sometimes the way something looks can give us that unappealing feeling, but even if it looks good, but you just don't know what all is in it, go online and look it up. Watch someone else making it and hopefully you'll find it, what's it in isn't all that different or scary from what you normally eat or ingredients you already use.
6. Put the food into perspective
There are sometimes billions of people on this planet who eat daily so many of the dishes you are afraid to eat or have never tried for other reasons. Put it out of your mind that the foods are dangerous, or can't be digested, or are going to make you sick and think of all the people who eat that food daily and nothing bad happens to them. It's not poison, it's just sustenance. Keep this in mind especially if the food is not normally eaten in your own country or culture.