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Author Topic: Acquired tastes
scifibum
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Coffee. Beer. Wine. Green vegetables. Vegemite. Liver.

Why don't we know what we like right off the bat?

I couldn't stand beer at first. Now I like it (a lot). It helped that I moved from warm mass produced American pilsner to the good kind [Wink] , but I didn't like even good beer at first. I kept at it like a champ, though. [Wink] (I was in bars for other reasons and needed something to do...don't drink kids, mmkay?)

Coffee had immediate payoff (alertness) but at first I didn't get why people liked the taste. Now, it's goooood. Again though, I'm getting picky about it. Don't want coffee made hours ago from cheap stale ground coffee.

Wine...I'm just getting to where I can enjoy it. The lack of sweetness compared to fruit juice was very off putting at first - as were the characteristics it shares with rotten fruit - but now I think I might be starting to understand why people savor the stuff. I haven't gotten picky about it yet...I might not have the palate.

Whiskey at first might as well have been gasoline or soap. Now, I really appreciate it. but only the good kind...I'm picky.

Green vegetables make me feel good and I think they are usually delicious. However, if they are overcooked they are pretty unpleasant. When I was a kid I didn't really care for them, but it might have been that I was eating badly prepared veggies.

See the theme?

How much of this is truly acquiring a taste for something, vs. being exposed to low quality at first and later learning to seek out and appreciate high quality? In the case of the former, why the confusion? why can something seem awful at first and later seem wonderful?

People really do enjoy that Vegemite stuff, you know...

What tastes have you acquired and what can you remember about the transition from "yuck" to "yum"?

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Wine...I'm just getting to where I can enjoy it. The lack of sweetness compared to fruit juice was very off putting at first - as were the characteristics it shares with rotten fruit - but now I think I might be starting to understand why people savor the stuff. I haven't gotten picky about it yet...I might not have the palate.

Seven Deadly Zins - a must try. Cline's Ancient Vine Zinfandel is excellent(be sure it's 2006 not the 04 or 05, not sure what happened in those years but avoid them). My current favorite is a reserve malbec from a Chilean winery called Alzamora. It's soooooo good, maybe the best wine there is under $20.

I first had my palate opened to wines when I did a tour of wineries in the Russian River Valley in CA. After that I took wine tasting "classes" at a local wine shop where a local sommelier educated us in depth on everything wine.

A lot of it is knowing what is good vs. bad quality and what to look for so you know good quality when you taste it. A lot of experimentation.

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TommySama
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I like all of that stuff, save liver. There are a lot of mediocre wines and beers, but if you get good stuff it's quite nice. At least the first glass or two is flavorful, kind of flat after that...


quote:
Why don't we know what we like right off the bat?
I think that as Americans we're kind of removed from our food sources, so we are conditioned to not like some things (broccoli, liver) because we hear that they are gross. Plus maybe we don't appreciate the good stuff we have.

Beer, wine have alcohol, so they're poison. Maybe we're preconditioned genetically dislike them, and have to get over it.

Coffee is super duper strong, donno though...

Bright Eyes music, an acquired taste, but will bring hours of self indulgent whining into your life.

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scifibum
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G2, thanks for the recommendations. Zinfandels have been easier for me to drink in the past and it appears the state-monopoly liquor stores stock Seven Deadly Zins so I'll probably start with that.

Was it just a matter of having your palate opened, or like me did you go through a stage where wine just tasted bad? (no matter the kind?)

Tommy the last thing I'd expect you to be when it comes to alcohol is picky...

[ June 06, 2008, 06:40 PM: Message edited by: scifibum ]

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TommySama
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Straight liquor I'm usually not picky, since I'm a poor college student. Wine and beer is another matter, because it's either crap or delicious, and I'd prefer delicious if I'm going to go to the trouble of drinking a lot of it [Smile]
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scifibum
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quote:
I think that as Americans we're kind of removed from our food sources, so we are conditioned to not like some things (broccoli, liver) because we hear that they are gross. Plus maybe we don't appreciate the good stuff we have.

Beer, wine have alcohol, so they're poison. Maybe we're preconditioned genetically dislike them, and have to get over it.

Those are good points. Perhaps a generation or two eating mass produced engineered foods has thrown off our normal reaction to natural foods. Of course not being very hungry very often probably also changes a person's perspective...and ability to afford luxuries like coffee etc.

Re: alcohol, yeah, I think the alcohol flavor has something to do with it, but not totally. There is so little alcohol in most beer that I can't really taste it (up to about 8% alcohol, I don't find any difference between weak beer and strong beer in flavor - all the flavor comes from the other ingredients, i.e. the style of beer. There are some really tasty low-alc IPAs, for instance). Yet I've grown to enjoy the taste of beer, where at first it was like drinking dishwater with yeast in it.

Is it just simple conditioning? I think everything I listed comes with some payoff: Alertness, drunkenness, vitamins. Even Vegemite is really packed with nutrients, and that stuff tastes TERRIBLE.

Is there an acquired taste that DOESN'T have some nutritional/experiential payoff that is unrelated to the flavor of the food?

Seafood is another example of something that a lot of people (well, some people I know, anyway) don't like at first but then grow to really enjoy. Another case of nutritional benefit conditioning the enjoyment?

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LetterRip
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We have instinctive flavor preferences (like sweets, dislike bitters and sours); we have learned flavor preferences (what mom eats during pregnancy establishes some later food prefernces; what mom eats during breastfeeding establish later food preferences; how we see others respond to a particular food; a single bad experience that coincides with the consumption of a food even if unrelated to the food can make us dislike the food; how many times we have tried a particular food - it takes 3 times often before we can like a new food).

You might find this article interesting,

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2005/01/12/FDGFVAN3T81.DTL

LetterRip

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OceanRunner
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Also our taste buds die off as we age, so we didn't pick up on many of the unpleasant notes that we first tasted when we sampled something as a child or youth. That's why we sometimes have the sudden, "Oh! That's actually good," response to a food or beverage we used to find unappealing.
quote:
a single bad experience that coincides with the consumption of a food even if unrelated to the food can make us dislike the food
When I was six, I lost a baby tooth when I bit into a cherry tomato, which freaked me out and resulted in my being disgusted by tomatoes for years (until I was a teenager). I could only deal with tomatoes as ketchup or sauce, which, looking back, I think must have been "safe" forms. But I really did just find tomatoes disgusting for the longest time.

I don't like the taste of coffee, beer, and I DEFINITELY don't like whiskey or tequila (but then I had both low quality whiskey and tequila and traumatizing experiences with both, so that could be a factor...). I keep hoping I'll grow into coffee and beer with continued exposure though... just to feel like a real grownup. [Wink]

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Jesse
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Coffee and Beer are both good things [Smile]

Schnaps...though...

One sip, and I vomit. Memories of my 14th birthday, and 7 guys all trying to puke in the same toilet.

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scifibum
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"I keep hoping I'll grow into coffee and beer with continued exposure though... just to feel like a real grownup. [Wink]"

The important thing is to keep trying. [Wink]

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DaveS
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Getting along with coffee and beer takes effort, but except for some coffees, once you get there they're more about preferences than real taste. Even an honest appreciation of wine is influenced by factors other than quality, like price. The pinnacle of learned tastes in imbibilants is single malt scotch. It takes time, a truly discerning palate, and the ability to take a punch without flinching. [Smile]

[ June 08, 2008, 12:39 PM: Message edited by: DaveS ]

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Viking_Longship
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I spent about a week in a Russian hospital recovering from food poisoning and exploratory surgery (they thought my appendix might be infected. It wasn't thank God)

Every morning they brought me a cup of kefir, an unflavored yogurt like substance and boiled buckweat. (I got that at every meal). I developed a taste for kefir there and now have it at breakfast most mornings. I wasn't wild about the stuff at first but as it was the only think in the hospital that had any flavor I started to like it very fast.

Now if I could just aquire a taste for sushi I'd be set here....

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DonaldD
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Keffir: milk in which you'va allowed a specific type of fungus to grow.
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Jesse
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Keffir is yummy stuff. Pretty much took the place of Soda in my life as a kid, what with the hippy parents.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
Beer, wine have alcohol, so they're poison. Maybe we're preconditioned genetically dislike them, and have to get over it.
I have been trying hard to acquire a taste for alcohol, any alcohol, for years. It's hard work finding any alcoholic beverage that isn't vile and revolting to the point of making me throw up.

The only alcohol I actually have come to like (slightly) is red wine. It's inoffensive to me, and I do enjoy the colour and sometimes the aroma. Can't tell one wine from another though. Wine is wine to my deficient taste buds.

The only reason I even try to like alcohol is because I happen to like the effects.

But alcohol is an exception, not a rule, because with alcohol the taste and enjoyment of the beverage as a beverage is totally separate from the enjoyment of the effects.

With other things, why even bother? There are enough things in the world that taste good right on the first try. Why should I have to work at it to force myself to like something?

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scifibum
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G2: Tried Seven Deadly Zins. Pretty easy drinking, for a red. I'm sure I'm missing subtleties but I liked it. My wife even sad "not bad" when her usual reaction to red wine is "Gaaah!"
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G2
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Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Did you try it with any foods? Seven Deadly Zins is pretty robust and pairs well with beef and heavy pasta dishes - of course, just by itself works well too!

If you liked that, the malbec from Alzamora is really going to tickle you palate. I've yet to find a malbec from South America I didn't enjoy but that reserve malbec from these guys has been excellent.

I had a surprisingly nice chardonnay from Clos du Bois this weekend. Surprisingly since that particular vineyard is a little hit or miss from year to year. I paired it with a cedar plank grilled honey lime salmon and it was truly top notch (let me know if you want the recipe/instructions - I'll post it). My wife and are foodies so we're always trying something out and love to share.

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scifibum
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We were having grilled bratwurst with the Zins. I have no idea whether that would be considered a good pairing other than the fact that it's red and the dish was heavy and strongly flavored. [Smile] (Man those brats were good. Reminds me, sauerkraut is like one of my favorite acquired tastes - with caramelized onions and brown mustard, on a good brat...and to think of all the times I just ate a hot dog, what a waste.)

I'd probably have to order a case of the Alzamora to get it here in Utah, which I'm not prepared to do, but I'll keep an eye out for it when I'm in San Jose in a couple of weeks.

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