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Jan 8, 2007 05:10 PM

Change in taste preferences over the years

Has this ever happened to you? You try to fine-tune your taste buds by revisiting that maiden dish you had a long time ago, the very dish that got you to explore more of the kind, only to realize how unsophisticated you were when you first had that dish, and that your preference has actually evolved.

You've acquired an entirely new spectrum of subtle palates (and palettes, too!). You've built up tolerance for alcohol and spices. At the same time you resist rejecting the taste of a food with tons of childhood memory.

You are like a person who could distinguish a dozen different sounds of "k" but was unable to tell an "r" from an "l" because he didn't grow up with it. But he goes on to learn, not only how to say "r" properly, but he can now do "gr" and "rrl" along with myriad other notes that ring his chow bells.

I thought about this as I read chowhound postings about pizza. Do you have a good example of your preference change? Something you once thought was the best, but now changed your mind?

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  1. Yes! I felt this way about an old college-days (in the early 70's) favorite, tomato beef chowmein in San Jose, Calif. It really got me excited about the possibilities of Asian food, but when I had some this summer, at the same Japanese-owned Chinese restaurant on Jackson St., it was a bummer! Intolerably sweet, which I had once thougt was the sweetness of Calif. tomatoes was actually good old sugar syrup. Fried noodles left a greasy, lingering mouthfeel. I now love many Asian foods, Chinese the least.

    Irony: I used to look at posters of the funny-colored little foods on their walls and wonder what they were like. Later, I learned I could have had a giant tray of sushi for 3 bucks!

    1. I get this much more with wine than with food. I don't think my food tastes have evolved that much, partly because I grew up in a household that was crazily diverse in their eating habits - but when I revisit a bottle of wine that I liked two or three years ago I am amazed how bad it tastes and wonder what my taste buds were thinking!!

      1. Depending on how old you are when you revisit that childhood favorite, the fault might be more in your sense of smell (and therefore your sense of taste) than your now-enlightened perceptions of food.

        As we age our sense of smell diminishes, taste along with it. You know how your grandmother used to say that such-and-such doesn't taste the way it did when she was a kid? Well, darn it, she's right.

        On the other hand, so many of the current versions of those childhood favorites are made from really nasty adulterated and synthetic junk that, even if our taste buds stayed the same, the food certainly didn't. No wonder it tastes foul.

        1. I hated licorice candy growing up, still do. I can't stand Tarragon because of the fresh licorice taste. But I'm warming up to cooked fennel and broths made with star anise. I used to hate sweet italian sausage because of the fennel seeds. I'm ok with that now.

          1. When I was small I liked sweets much more than savory snacks. For instance I would pick chocolate over chips at any time. Now, I prefer savory food much more than sweets, and have toned down my level of "sweetness".

            Soda and sweet drinks were my designated fluid intakes when I was small. Now I prefer good water (and sorry if this sounds pretentious, but I really think some bottled water like Fiji tastes better). Sparkling spring water is also an alternative.

            I used to find simple food to be bland. Now I found myself to appreciate the subtle flavors of a lot of the simple food. For instance, good quality tofu, pizza with the simplest sauce and toppings, spagetti with just drizzle of good olive oil rather than heavy super cheesy sauce.

            Overall I found myself to appreciate the original flavor of the food rather than all these add-ons that I used to like when I was small.