This fact was brought home to me recently when my parents were having me over for a birthday dinner. My step-mom wanted to make a fancy dessert and was calling to make sure that it wouldn't cause any allergic problems for me. She was excitedly telling me all about the custard that she had planned, and I tried to sound positive, really I did, but honestly, I just hate custards.
Apparently my voice gave me away, and we settled on something different - which also turned out to be something I'm not terribly fond of - crispy cookies... not sure why, but I just am not a big fan of crispy sweet things, I think they should be soft and chewey. But I was very polite and ate a few remarking how good they were.
But I just find it very interesting that different people have such different ideas about what does and doesn't taste good. I wonder why that is? Does it have to do with associations we have with the food? I'm sure that's part of it, but I think there's got to be something more.
CatMan and I once stumbled upon an article about "supertasters." Apparently different people have different numbers of taste buds. And the more you have, the more strongly you experience flavors. Well, we both counted our taste buds and discovered that while I fall into the "non-taster" category (fewer than average number of taste buds) he is a supertaster (with WAY more taste buds than most people have.) Hmmmm.... No wonder we have such a hard time agreeing on which foods taste good!
But I think the differences extend way beyond the number of taste buds. I remember when I was a kid we did an experiment in science class. We each got a little piece of paper laced with quinine and were instructed to lick it and describe the taste. Lots of the kids reported that it just tasted like paper, but to me it had an incredibly horrible bitter taste. Well, apparently this is genetic - some people can taste quinine and others can't.
It all makes me wonder what other differences there are in how we actually experience the taste of our foods.
Anyhow, I thought it might be fun to compare lists of things that we like and dislike, just to see if anything interesting surfaces. So here goes.
Foods I dislike:
- Chocolate Ice cream - it's sooo bitter! But a chocolate shake made with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce is delicious.
- Potato Chips - they just taste like grease to me
- Custards of any kind (especially flan - yuck!)
- Black licorice or anise (seriously - people eat that voluntarily?)
- Wintergreen or "winter mint" - "blicky mint" I call it
- Wasabi Mustard - eeeeewwww!
- Peanuts and especially Peanut Butter (sometimes OK as an ingredient, but I can't stomach them plain)
- Pears (mostly because of the texture, but I'm not a real fan of the flavor either)
- Milk (except for in certain very specific situations)
- ANY artificial sweeteners - how can people stand them?
- Granny Smith Apples - they literally make my teeth hurt!
Foods that others seem to dislike but I enjoy:
- Spinach, Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts etc. (CatMan complains about how bitter they are, but I totally don't get it - they taste sweet to me)
- Lima Beans (buttery and delicious)
- Sweet Potatoes (my Dad HATES them, but I think they're yummy)
- Vinegar - I think most foods are improved by dousing them in a hefty dose of strong vinegar
- Salt - I crave the stuff - seriously, sometimes I think I need a salt lick - maybe my chronic low blood pressure has something to do with this?
- Grapefruit - most people I know won't eat it without sugar on it, which I totally can't understand because it's yummy the way it is
- Coffee - My mother hated it, and so do many of my friends, but I think it's yummy!
- Tea - especially green tea - Another thing that most people I know like to add sugar to, but I love it plain.
- Soy Sauce - I think I could drink it straight, but CatMan really dislikes the flavor
OK, that's all I can think of at the moment.
Looking at the list, I'm a bit puzzled - there are things on there that I think taste good, but others I know think taste bitter. Meanwhile there are things I dislike because of the strong bitter taste (anise, wintermint, wasabi) that other people don't seem to find bitter. Very interesting...
Anyhow, I'm curious to know, what's on your lists? Any theories about what factors are at play with this stuff?