"Don't play with your food." We've all heard it, many of us have said it. But why? Playing with food can offend for several reasons; it's considered poor etiquette in many cultures and if you play with it and don't eat it, it's a waste.
But play is the way children learn about new things. An unfamiliar food can become familiar if a child is allowed to smell it and feel its texture before committing to eating it. Even if they don't eat it the first or second time, the act of becoming familiar with a food is crucial - many children won't eat novel foods.
Consider offering small amounts of a food you'd like to introduce to your child alongside familiar foods and allow them to investigate it. This will reduce any concerns you may have regarding food wastage and help your child avoid feeling overwhelmed. It might be harder to come to terms with the "it's bad table manners" aspect of allowing your child to play with food but try to think of it as a learning experience. It may help to make discuss times when it is and isn't okay to play with food - for example, it's ok at home, but not at restaurants. It might be a good idea for the new food not to be touching the familiar foods if your child is particularly fussy.