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Appreciating bitter (moved from Not About Food).

When I was younger I believed that I detested all things bitter. As I've grown older, howver, I realize that there are a number of my favorite foods/drinks in which bitter is an essential component. Two of these are dark chocolate and good coffee. Also, in recipes calling for eggplant I generally ignore directions to peel the veg because the purported bitterness of eggplant skin has never bothered me. Do any other good bitter flavors come to mind of you Chowhounds?

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  1. Bitter greens is the first thing comes to mind for me. I did have some dandelion greens once that were too much for me, but basically it's a favorite flavor.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cmkdvs

      Yes, a dandelion green salad was a revelation! It started out bitter, and I thought I might not finish it. After a few bites, though, the bitter converted to something wonderful, and by the end of the salad I was wanting more! (it had fresh marinated raw anchovies on top and a lemon/oil dressing.)

    2. Oh, how I have never liked bitter. I grew up with bittermelon as one of our veggie dishes. I could never eat it. I don't mind if there is a tiny, and I mean tiny, bit of bitterness, but otherwise, I just don't have the right taste buds for that flavor. But give me sour anyday!

      1 Reply
      1. re: justagthing

        You, too, huh? I would drink straight vinegar before facing many bitter flavors.

      2. My SO loves the bitterness in Campari and Fernet Branca -- loves to tell me it's an acquired taste, but somehow I just don't get it no matter how many times I try it. Fernet tastes like bitter cough medicine to me.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kbee

          I love the bitterness of Campari too. I was surprised when out having a drink with an Aunt and I ordered a Campari and Soda. She had a taste and pronounced it sweet. i guess some of us have different perceptions. I love the bitterness of tonic and also bitter lemon.

        2. I really enjoy bitter melon - stuffed with pork and glass noodles in a broth or stir -fried with balck bean sauce. I also try to blanch my cardoons just enough so they are tender but still retain that bitter edge.

          1. Ditto about the greens. Watercress and arugula wouldn't be much without the bitterness. It doesn't mean you'd want to eat a naked giant mouthful of just that, but mixed in with other greens, it gives such a nice depth. To me, it just satisfies something. Other people with other taste buds and other physical makeups (see anything about Oriental diagnosis for medical correspondences to taste preferences) will feel otherwise. I believe that for the general food-oriented person, though, a diet without bitter things is a rainbow missing some colors.

            1 Reply
            1. re: watercress

              I don't find arugula bitter. It may just be me like those of us with an aversion to Cilantro. I find arugula tastes rather like gasoline smells.