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Our Changing Tastes

Tastes change.  You only have to look back to the styles of the 1970’s and 1980’s to see how true that is.  What I’ve realized recently is how much my tastes have changed.  When I was younger, there were certain flavors that just didn’t appeal to me:  beets, blue cheese and hazelnuts to name a few.   Now I crave these flavors. 

I’ve often wondered how and why this happens.  One theory I’ve heard is that some food aversions are a result of evolution.  Sour or bitter flavors once were an indication of foods having spoiled, so in order to protect ourselves, we developed a disliking for these flavors.  Another theory is that our taste buds become less sensitive as we age so that flavors we once found too strong are now palatable.   A third possibility is that we physically can’t process certain flavors.  For example, I don’t like cilantro.  I’ve heard that this is because I lack the enzyme in my saliva that’s needed to process it.

Whatever the reason, seeing how I now like foods that I wouldn’t think of eating 10 years ago has liberated me.  I’m much more likely to try foods now than at any other point of my life.  As a result, I been encouraging my customers to sample foods they’ve rejected in the past.  By giving something small and free to taste, they have a low-risk way to expand their horizons.  The more willing they are to eat a broader variety of flavors, the more freedom I can have in the kitchen. 

So, make a vow to taste something ‘new’ this week.   If you find you like it, pass it on to your customers. Let me know what you’ve discovered and if you’re putting it on your menu.

Chef CWK

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