Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Matter of Taste

In a previous post, I mentioned that Our Hero doesn’t like broccoli. Chewing meditatively on my tofu-broccoli, I thought: “This stir-fry has a peanut sauce. Our hero loves peanut sauce. And it’s truly delicious how the tops of the broccoli florets soak up the creamy heat of the sauce. Maybe Our Hero would like broccoli this way!” So I undertook a little experiment and made another batch (a much larger batch) of the stir-fry on Monday night. And Our Hero went back for more. Just goes to show the power of peanut sauce.

But really, the whole issue got me thinking – what is this literal matter of personal taste? Certainly some culinary dislikes come from unshakeable childhood associations, but others aren’t as simple to pin down.

I’ve said Our Hero is a real sport when it comes to trying new foods, and he’s an absolute pleasure for whom to cook. I do remember a couple of misses: West African tomato-peanut sauce (I loved it, he found the tomato-peanut combination strange), gazpacho, and pasta with fresh figs and chili peppers (made it for my brother and his girlfriend – the rest of us enjoyed every bite). Did not go over big. All the same, there are things I’ve cooked that left leftovers I did not relish eating. I can’t think of them specifically, but I’m sure I’ve not recreated them since.

And as I’ve said, I’ve little to no tolerance for the picky eater, but some understanding that we may all have our little idiosyncrasies. My dad hates peanut flavor outside of a sandwich (this includes both sauces and cookies, so he is an equal-opportunity—sweet and savory—peanut eschewer). Other than that, he’ll eat practically anything. I have another friend who swears up and down she doesn’t like rice. Weird? Maybe. But from her varied diet and adventurous appetite one could hardly call her picky. And hell, I’ve got my own list of things I do not like to eat, but will if prepared for me by others:

Green Beans. I know, I know, “Wellunderstood! Fresh green beans are delicious, lightly steamed, tossed with a bit of flavored oil and toasted almonds.” Blah blah blah. This is one childhood association I just can’t shake, though I’ve tried and tried. I think this is a texture thing. I remember choking down those awful, squeaky, leathery one-inch-long green beans that came in the bags of frozen mixed vegetables (sorry ma and pa). They were awful.

Green Bell Peppers. Okay, this one is totally founded. I think they are indigestible. The flavor is immature, undeveloped. They are not ripe yet, people! They should be eaten when a ripe, sweet red or yellow or orange or purple. Not green.

Shrimp. Give me a scallop any day. I don’t have a violent negative reaction to shrimp. When cooked well, it can be tolerable, occasionally tasty. Still, there’s just something about shrimp that puts me off.

So you see, we all have these things. Dear reader, what are your things? What is the embarrassing food secret you hold close to your chest? Mushrooms? Sushi? Share.


Audrey said...

a reuben sandwich. pretty embarassing because i seem to be the only person alive who doesn't like them. truthfully, i haven't had one since i was about 14 years old when i first tried it, but the memory of my incredible dislike of that sandwich will prevent me from every trying one again.

we all have our 'thing'....

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