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Do you crave strong flavours?

  • Peg Apr 13, 2009 09:35 AM
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I love strong flavours - chillis, anchovies, garlic, blue cheese etc. - and am wondering whether Chowhounds in general are like me in this respect. I do appreciate subtlety too, but a few days of of bland food leaves me craving a hit of something with more punch.
Does a like (or need) for powerful tastes help define 'Chowhound'?

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  1. Yes, salty, vinegary, hot, pungent and sour foods are what I crave. I seem to have been born without a sweet tooth...

    1. I'm the same way -- love big, bold flavors! My cooking is anything but suble. I use a lot of garlic, because I want to taste it. Not just hints of stuff. Same with chilis. It's got to be HOT.

      In restaurants, super-subtle stuff is often wasted on me. I find it bland.

      2 Replies
      1. re: linguafood

        I'm like you and Sean. No sweet tooth. Love bold flavors. Sometimes wonder if my taste buds are fading. Tons of garlic, hot peppers, anchovies, vinegar - anything but bland.

        1. re: bayoucook

          Ditto, but not much sweet. A little chocolate here and there, but good chocolate. A good chocolate brownie, small piece of chocolate cake, baklava, but not just frostings, cakes, jelly roles, etc. Do like a good chocolate chip now and then, but spicy, hot, garlic, vinegar, anything like that. Love big flavors.

      2. i'm an acid & heat freak. i'll take spicy or sou over sweet any day.

        not salt, though. i'm super-sensitive to it and overly salty foods nauseate me.

        1. I really think it depends. I generally love strong flavors, but sometimes my body just craves something bland, especially when I'm not feeling too hot. I remember after two weeks of gorging on spicy, salty, sour highly-seasoned food in Thailand, eating the more delicately seasoned food in Vietnam was a welcome sigh of relief.

          I don't think the like or need for stronger flavors defines what a Chowhound is as I'm sure one can argue that those who always need strong flavors lacks the tastebuds to appreciate the subtle stuff. I think craving stronger flavors or more subtle flavors is just a preference.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Miss Needle

            I agree - sometimes only mashed potatoes will do - but the rest of the time I love salty/spicy/acid/charred foods. Bitter not so much.
            I do like sweet things, but can happily eat nothing sweet for weeks at a time. Chocolate does not call my name, but a hunk of Stilton certainly does.

          2. I'm the same way - love vinegary, fishy, strong flavors - assam laksa (Malaysian sour fish soup) is one of my favorite foods hands down. But I tend to think it's to my detriment as a chowhound, as i often have trouble discerning more subtle flavors in foods. I wonder which came first, though - do I like strong flavors because i can taste them clearly and perhaps don't experience them as strongly as others might?

            1. Depends on the item. I love garlic and ginger, but I dislike things like cilantro and very hot chili peppers. (East Coast Grill's Hell Night is most definitely NOT for me!) I love the tangyness of pomegranate molasses and the lemony bite of sumac. But sometimes a bowl of rice and peas with a bit of salt and butter just works for me.

              Those are the likes/dislikes that immediately come to mind.

              1. I love strong flavors, but once I am satisfied, I have to get the taste out of my mouth. So, if I eat something really oniony, for example, I really enjoy. But at some point, I'm looking for mouthwash or gum, or even chocolate, to get the taste out of my mouth. Anchovies don't leave that aftertaste, but garlic is much the same. If that makes any sense.

                1. I love strong flavors! That was one of the first things that I discovered when I began cooking as a young wife. My mother in law would give me a favorite recipe of my DH's, I would make it and it would be just so-so. Then I would add lots of garlic, onion, basil, whatever and make it my own. He liked it a lot. but when I had the in-laws over they protested. Too bad!

                  Now, my DH doesn't like things like blue cheese, but I sure do! As far as other things go, I always have to doctor things up with plenty of spices and herbs and sauces. I do like heat, but I have a stomach problem so I can't do that anymore. ;-( Just a bit, but not too much. If it doesn't have enough flavor, then just take it away!

                  1. Crave:
                    Sour
                    Sweet and sour
                    Pungent (e.g. fish sauce)

                    Not crave:
                    Salty
                    Sweet

                    1. Bold flavors, yes...over-powering flavor, no.

                      I love a bold, zippy BBQ sauce or the sharp sourness of bleu cheese, but for the most part, in more complex dishes, I like to be able to taste what it is I’m eating. I don’t want a dominant flavor to mask all the ingredients in a dish. I don’t need to be able to discern the marjoram from the oregano in a pasta sauce, but I don’t want my chicken soup to be mistaken for clove soup by using too much seasoning.

                      I recently made some pork cutlets that were very tasty. Unfortunately, I flavored the sauce with too much tarragon and that’s all I could taste. Good, but over-powering.

                      1. Does a like (or need) for powerful tastes help define 'Chowhound'?

                        I don't think so. Most popular food is too powerful in flavor for me, although they don't seem to taste like that to others. I value balance and complexity, but prefer much subtler tastes.

                        1. I like layering strong flavors over bland, rich ones, such as a bold spicy crust on a piece of grilled salmon or a pork chop. I just now made myself a green salad with a crumbled piece of last night's salmon in it, and on a whim fried the salmon skin to a crisp crunchiness, deglazed the pan with a splash of rice vinegar and dumped all that into the salad, then stirred in just enough mayonnaise to give everything a very light coat. With the slightly bitter greens it made something a lot more fun than salads generally tend to be.

                          Roasting vegetables gives another flavor I've come to be crazy about, especially in combinations such as beets, carrots, chunks of squash and onions all roasted in a pan together, and maybe experimenting with different kinds of seasonings - butter and pepper, vinegar and herbs and oil, big chunks of sausage...

                          1. It varies for me. I suppose the answer is: I crave all flavors and will alternate between the strong and the more subtle. I guess it's like craving something sweet after eating something savory and vice versa.

                            1. I have a very unresponsive palate. If I feel like some part of a meal isn't violently assaulting me with flavor, I can get kind of cranky.

                              Also, for some I reason I am very attracted to flavors that remind me of smelly, rotting things. I love marmite, cumin, cheonggukjang (Korean fermented bean paste), curries and things with tons of garlic. The idea of gamy meat really appeals to me, but I've never had meat that lives up to the putrid ideal that I have in my head. The same applies to stinky cheese, natto and stinky tofu: none of it tastes funky enough for me.

                              I'm so obsessed that whenever I travel, I always search the chowhound board of the destination for the keywords "pungent" and "gamy" (in addition to "dense", because I like heavy foods).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Humbucker

                                Natto's not enough for you?! Dang.

                              2. No, I am a supertaster for most flavors except salt, so I tend to like things less emphatic.

                                Other factors in a desire for big flavors - other than cultural cultivation - may include aging (sense of taste dulls), chronic post-nasal drip (allergies being a common cause thereof), previous history addictions to sensory stimuli, and a general dulling of palate due to significant reliance on processed foods.

                                1. I grew up on food that exemplified Salty, Sour, Spicy, Sweet. And now when I make my meals, I have a hard time leaving out the chilies, Sriracha, garlic, vinegar, etc. even when my stomach is feeling delicate due to illness. I will still pump my chicken soup up with Sriracha and lime juice.

                                  But I wouldn't say that makes me a Chowhound. If anything, my need for heat and piquancy has kept me away from French and most Continental food. I'm not one for delicate flavors so I find it hard to abandon my Asian roots.

                                  1. I've often wondered if I'm near the opposite end of the spectrum from a Supertaster because I love bold flavors I pretty much like everything; salty, sweet, sour, spicy and even bland or subtle.

                                    But give me something that really lights up my tastebuds and I'm a happy camper. Hubby knows if I say something is a "taste sensation" that I'm really lovin' it.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Alicat24

                                      Whereas I am one of those consumers that, when I behold NEW! BIGGER! BOLDER! FLAVORS! on a package of an item I used to consume, I usually find that it's made it worse....

                                    2. Yes, and I worry because most of them could also be considered vermifuges.

                                      1. I love blue cheese, durian, lamb and buffalo, smoky BBQ, sourdough and rye bread and chili peppers. I love to bake and have somewhat of a sweet tooth but the sweetness must be balanced with strong spices, textures and fruit flavors.

                                        1. I grew up in the midwest where seasoning was salt and pepper with not much of the pepper. The first non-bland food I remember was when I was about 15 and had a taco (with hot sauce) at the county fair. It was love at first bite. I've lived in Houston since 2001, but my love of strong flavors started well before then and has only grown since. (Nachos without jalapenos are a heresy.) My spice drawer and condiment cabinet could stock a grocery aisle, and I'm very careful about what I order in restaurants lest I be disappointed at the blandness of it.