Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Flavor Changes

When Amanda was having lunch with us this past weekend, it came up that she hates bananas.  After we all lightly teased her a little (because come on, bananas are awesome), she mentioned how she really wishes she liked them.  And that actually, her aversion has lessened slightly.  She used to get grossed out just smelling them, but now she can at least tolerate being in the same room as them.

This made me wonder about the evolution of our taste buds at different phases of our lives.  How, quite literally, our food-flavor preferences change as we get older.  (It's illustrated by Amanda slowly warming up to bananas.  I'd bet money that at some point in her life, she'll at least find the taste tolerable, if not enjoy them.)

Anyway, when I think about it, I can think of three foods off hand (but I'm sure there are more), where I've had a 180 degree taste-preference change over the years.

1) Bananas
I said earlier that bananas are awesome, but I didn't always think so.  According to my mom, I ate a ton of bananas as a baby.  Like, they were my favorite food.  But my earliest memory of a banana is a dislike.  I'd say I spent ages 5-15 really, really disliking them.  I didn't want to eat them, but I also didn't even want them near the other food I was eating.

I warmed up to them by adding them to smoothies with a ton of other flavors.  By doing this, there would be a ton of fruity deliciousness, with a slight hint of banana in the background.  I eventually worked my way up from there, and now I'm a banana fiend.  I love them!

2) Tomatoes
I wouldn't say that I hated tomatoes when I was younger.  But I also didn't like them and would pick them off food I was eating.  (I've always loved ketchup, as we all know, so I'm not sure if my tomato issue was a texture thing or what.)  Anyway, I never really gave them a fair chance, because in my mind, "I didn't eat tomatoes."

Well, when I became a vegetarian after my junior year of college, I realized that I needed to start eating tomatoes.  It was that simple.  I remember being in a Lenny's with Katie's family, and I was ordering my veggie sub, and it just occurred to me, "I can't be a vegetarian and not eat tomatoes" - so I ordered them on my sub.  I've been eating them ever since, and I'm definitely a big fan now. 

3) Blue Cheese
I should start by saying that I love blue cheese now.  Love.  More than the average person.  I will buy a container of blue cheese crumbles and eat them with a spoon.  I put blue cheese on anything and everything it could possibly add flavor to.  I love it.

But I didn't always.  I think "stinky cheeses" might be one of those tastes that you grow into later in life (because really, how many little kids love a big slice of super moldy blue cheese?).  Also, I'm not sure that my parents, even today, are big blue cheese fans; so I'm not sure I was ever exposed to it other than at restaurants when the options were ranch and blue cheese, and I was told, "you don't want blue cheese."

I remember I first warmed up to it when Sarah worked at Einstein's in high school and she would make my favorite sandwich, The Cobby, for me.  (Side note - The Cobby was an incredible sandwich that should still be on the Einstein's menu.*)  But anyway, one slice of bread of the sandwich was slathered in gorgonzola spread.  I remember thinking that I didn't love the spread, but I also sort of liked the way it worked with the rest of the sandwich.  It wasn't until college that I would just pile blue cheese on a salad at the salad bar, but when I did, it was instant love.

I'm wondering if I could eventually warm myself up to pickles, since I don't like them now, but really wish I did.  I'm starting by first warming up more to cucumbers.  All week, I'm planning to incorporate a cucumber into something that I eat.  Thus far, I've been putting them on my salads at lunch.  Baby steps.

Are there any foods that you guys love now that you used to hate when you were younger?  Or any foods you hate that you wish you liked?

*Maybe you guys are wondering what was on The Cobby?  This is how I remember it, Sare, correct me if I'm wrong...
-it was on a challah roll
-one side of bread had gorgonzola spread
-the other side had avocado spread
-red onion
-pepper-encrusted bacon



Jonathan said...

Along the line of changing tastes was a converstion about what you would eat if you could have the meal you wanted most as an 8-10 year old, but were not allowed to have.

Breakfast for me:
Lucky Charms - probably pretty solid today. I was raised on Product 19 and Wheaties.

Manwich with a side of Vienna Sausages - maybe my mother knew something I didn't.

Dinner:A McDonald's Big Mac, fries, apple pie and orange drink. On the rare occasions I was allowed to go to McDonald's i was always limited to the hamburger (not even the cheeseburger).

Obviously the vienna sausages idea was disgusting. The rest would probably still taste pretty good (if certainly unsophisticated and fattening).

Sarah said...

Haha. You are right on with the Cobbie! My school building just put in an Einsteins where the crappy cafeteria used to be. So exciting. I didn't like eggs until college and now they are one of my favorite foods. Ryan and I were talking about Cheese Whiz last night. What is it actually used for? Neither of us could remember what we would have wanted cheese whiz for as a child but we both remember loving processed cheese.

AmyBethJames said...

Black beans. One day I accidentally forgot to tell the guy making my burrito to leave them off and I felt bad so I just ate it as it was. Lo and behold, I liked them!

Amanda said...

I recently realized I liked sweet potatoes. I still don't love them mashed, but I have come around to them baked and fried. One of these days I will work up the courage to try the banana again. Until then, I will consider being able to sit next to Stephen as he eats them a great accomplishment. :)

katie said...

mmmmm. remember that sandwich i used to make in college that was only wheat bread, blue cheese, pineapple, and balsamic vinegar? it sounds so gross, but it tasted sooo good.

Claire said...

I'm surprised you like ketchup, but not pickles. Both being very salty, sour and sweet. Give them a try (the dill ones, not the crap "bread and butter" ones).

Generally, I'd say there are dishes, not single foods, that my grandma and mother used to make when I was younger that I never gave a chance but now love, like: fried dough ("zeppole"), lentil soup, dishes with wilted greens. Ooh, I used to, and mostly still do, hate the sight of fennel seeds (can find them in sausage), though quite like fennel bulbs (roasted, raw in salad, etc.).

veena. said...

I also had a love of ketchup [would eat the packets from McDonald's on their own] but an aversion to tomatoes as a child, and now I gobble up tomatoes any chance I get. Okra is also on the list, but I've realized I need all the Indian masalas and spices on it. But I think my greatest breakthrough is brinjal/aubergine. I used to not even touch the curry it was served with, and now I can stomach a bite or two. Hooray for evolving tastes!