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{January 24, 2011}   Bitter Is an Acquired Taste

I was a major drama queen as a child, major, particularly when it came to food. You see, when I was a kid we were required to eat, at minimum, one bite of each food item Mom prepared for dinner whether we liked said food item or not (with the exception of “English Peas” because my Dad hated them as well). As I was a picky eater, dinnertime usually went like this:

Mom: Beth, you have to eat one spoonful of (insert food I hate here).
Me: I don’t want to (in whining voice).
Dad: Do what your Mother tells you. Just eat it.
Me: Mehhhhhhh. But it’s grooooooooosssssssss.
Mom: Eat it.
Me: But is smells bad. Ugggghhhhhhh.
Mom and Dad: *glare*

At this point I would take my tea glass in one hand, use the fingers of that hand to hold my nose, shove a forkful of undesirable food item x into my mouth and very quickly drown said item in tea. I would then hold my nose and chew while making gagging noises and trying not to vomit.

See? Drama Queen. Major.

As an adult, I’m still sort of a Drama Queen. I can admit that. But I’m more of a particular eater now than a picky eater (i.e. I eat a larger variety of foods and have fewer foods that I absolutely hate, but have a weird allergy to capsicum that makes me hard to cook for sometimes). I think part of this has come from living in different areas and different cultures and being exposed to a wider variety of foods and part from cultivating an interest in cooking, which has introduced me to new ingredients. I also think part of it comes naturally with growing older.

There are so many foods that I eat now that I absolutely hated (or would have hated, had I tasted them), as a child. Let’s take collard greens for example. They were one of my biggest nemeses as a child. I gagged them down with tea and loud protest every time they graced our table. Now, I can’t get enough of them (and other bitter greens in that family). The same is true for my new favorite vegetable of all time ever period: Brussels Sprouts. I’d have hated them as a child, but love love love them now.

So many of the flavors I enjoy as an adult, but hated as a child are bitter flavors. It makes me wonder if, like beer, bitter things are an acquired taste. What do you think? What do you like now that you hated as a kid? What is your favorite vegetable? What weird changes has your palate/taste undergone as you’ve aged? I want to know!

p.s. Some things never change. I still hate carrots. Gag. Ugh. Pass the tea!

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Celeste Harrell says:

Too funny, Beth. Mom did the same with us, and it was canned pinto beans that I couldn’t stand. In fact, it was canned beans of any kind. I didn’t realize then how spoiled I was eating the fresh veggies from my grandparents garden. The bitter food/bitter beer is a really interesting theory…I think you may have something there! I certainly didn’t care for bitter foods as a child (with you on the greens), but I’ve found as an adult that I appreciate the way a more bitter food compliments a savory dish. Love your blog, by the way….always love seeing what you’re cooking.



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