My DS 18month old has always been very good at trying anything put in front of him. He used to be great with all veg though not so good with meat. Recently he has started to chew carrots/ peas brocoli etc but then spit it out before swallowing, he will sometimes eat up to 3 or 4 bits of the same veg in a row this way - spitting out before putting the next bit in. Having to go back to pureeing things again just to get him to swallow them.
Ah, food as a plaything, I know this phase well (I secretly think that DS, 20 months, will ever leave it).
Personally, I put up with the mess. He is keeping his palate used to those flavours, some of it he will swallow (as much as he actually needs). And the novelty of masticated food will go away (eventually).
You could take the view that he's obviously not hungry, but the truth is that he is. He just doesn't know why food can't be played with like anything else.
So you could crack down hard and take his food all away until the next mealtime, leave him to cry, and see if he learns to just get on with eating next time, but it's kind of stifling his exploring spirit and it will take a while to work (and he may get quite hungry in the meantime).
No easy way forward, I'm afraid. Just depends whether you can put up with the mess!
Thanks hoping to get carpet switched to lino/tiles soon so hopefully will be less stressed when can more easily clean up mess. Think will puree half and give half normally until (fingers crossed soon) this phase ends.