HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


tastes like... funny flavour associations

when i was a kid, one of my first "ah ha!" flavour moments was when i realized that black cherry ice cream tasted like almond essence. some thousands of meals later and some more complex foods down the hatch, i've recently been having some really funny flavour associations and was wondering what other chows might have tasted?

most recently:
dehydrated tomato and vermouth - haw flakes
earl grey and salt milk chocolate - flintstones chewable vitamins (mostly the tea leaves left in the chocolate)
chardonnay - strong strong malt, like whoppers with a wine edge

when i mentioned it, some of the other diners agreed and so i know it wasn't my tastebuds going out of whack for the day. anyone else had some funny tastes like.... moments?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have had (more than once) chocolate bundt cake that I thought tasted like Play Dough smells. I have never discussed this with anyone.

    1 Reply
    1. re: calliope_nh

      yes yes I so get that! Usually the packet ones like Duncan Hines or Sara Lee

    2. the obvious - Natto - smells and taste the stinky feet.

      Sea Urchin - Pumpkin Custard

      2 Replies
        1. re: jhopp217

          hahaha I knew someone was going to give me a hard time about that. Taste like stinky feet smell. :)

      1. I'm stating the obvious here; cilantro=soap. At least that was my first impression, and I associated it with a certain punishment for being sassy ;-)
        Now, I love it. Can't pile on enough.

        7 Replies
        1. re: monavano

          Agreed. I couldn't eat anything with cilantro growing up & my mom just didn't get it!

          1. re: monavano

            Agree. I still hate cilantro by itself and have to hold my breath while chopping it, but if I leave it out of a dish, I miss it. I think it must be magic.

            1. re: Isoldamay

              You know, the funny thing is that I grew to love it! Why I tasted soap the first time I ate it and why I no longer associate it is a mystery to me.

            2. re: monavano

              Why is it that I've read a million boards with this analogy and I just don't see it. I love the smell and the taste

              1. re: jhopp217

                I've heard it's a genetic thing with some people picking up different aldehydes which exsist in cilantro, while others dont. Also, repeated exposure to eating cilantro can reshape how one enjoyes it. I'm sure glad I kept at it.

                1. re: monavano

                  Actually, every once in a while, I can see what those who smell soap are talking about; I get a whiff. But mostly I don't. It's odd.

              2. Frozen spinach/dried up lawn clippings

                1 Reply
                1. re: BeefeaterRocks

                  Which begs the question just HOW you know what dried up lawn clippings taste like? ;-)

                2. Speaking of whoppers I think they taste a lot like a chocolate stout.

                  French Fries dipped in a Wendy's frosty - apple pie a la mode crust

                  Lavender - soap

                  Escargot - buttery garlic mushrooms

                  licorice - cough syrup

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                    I just can't get behind lavender in food for that reason.

                    1. re: shanagain

                      yeah i can't get behind it much either but I'd bath in it :)

                      1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                        On my 8th bday, my grandmother sent me some lavender bath sachets and I thought they were candy, handed 'em out at my party. Oops.

                        1. re: tatamagouche

                          Hahahah that is pretty hilarious. My friend came back from India and had us try an Indian breath freshener. After tasting it, it tasted like soap to me, I thought she had given my potpourri. lol.

                    1. cilantro/ginger/blue sweettarts - soap
                      silver canned (caffeine) diet coke - vodka (exacerbated by an unfortunate high school incident)
                      pepto bismol - root beer

                      1. You're going to think I'm nuts, but black olives taste like monkey bars smell.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: shanagain

                          If you mean black olives form a can, then it's the metallic taste you are associating with the monkey bars. I totally get it!

                        2. We were sampling a fresh young Thai coconut at work. After tasting the coconut water a coworker said "Capt. Crunch!"

                          It has been over 40 years since I have had that cereal, but the coconut water instantly brings back that taste association!

                          1. I think Frito Lay's corn chips smell EXACTLY like a dog's paws. Or vice versa.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: ttoommyy

                              Yes! Especially my Bichon Frise's paws. I like to call him my little Frito Bandito.

                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                I've always said that Cool Ranch Doritos smell exactly like body odor. But I love the taste.

                                1. re: jhopp217

                                  "I've always said that Cool Ranch Doritos smell exactly like body odor. "

                                  For me it's canned chicken soup. Certain BO smells just like it! lol

                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                      When I was little I used to wonder why crowded subway cars always smelled like chicken soup. Took me a few years to figure out it was BO.

                                      1. re: southernitalian

                                        This thread is really interesting. So much is based on association. I love the cumin-heavy smell of a bowl of chili, but if I smelled the same thing standing behind a fat guy on the subway I would want to puke.

                                    2. re: jhopp217

                                      For me, it's shallots that smell like BO. I had the odor stick to a cutting board permanently once and ever since then, I can't stand them!

                                    3. re: ttoommyy

                                      My family has always referred to puppy paws as corn chips pads.

                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                        Awesome, we're not the only ones! We always joke about her frito paws.

                                        1. re: Vetter

                                          English McVitties Digestive Biscuits are what my doggies' paws smell of.

                                        2. re: ttoommyy

                                          Ok, fess up. How many of us smelled our dogs paws??? Mine smelled like dirt, could there be a difference between country dog paws and city dog paws?

                                        3. Many cured meats, especially Sopressata, zing me with a bouquet of formaldehyde right in the nose. I believe it's leftover from when I took Gross Anatomy and spent many hours smelling the stuff. After several weeks, ANY bland food took on the nose/flavor of formaldehyde.
                                          I was put off of bread and chicken for months.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: monavano

                                            so your fetal pig in bio lab didn't make you hungry for a blt?

                                            1. Laphroig smells like smoke and black magic markers.

                                              3 Replies
                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                  I think Laphroig and any other scotch smells like used band-aids.

                                                  1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                    Another bandaidy thing: some Italian red wines.

                                                2. I bought an instant powdered lavender milk tea that reminded me instantly of wafer biscuits. Yum!

                                                  1. Not taste, but smell - Years ago, I walked into the kitchen where the coffee pot had ground and brewed beans on schedule, and the fresh coffee smelled like peanut butter to me. Hasn't happened since, but it was definitely wierd.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: tracylee

                                                      My smell thing is the Coors plant in Golden, Colorado, smells like artichokes. Are hops and artichokes related?

                                                      1. re: Parrotgal

                                                        I always thought brewed hops smell like tea.

                                                        1. re: Parrotgal

                                                          I live near a budweiser plant. I always thought it smelled like cooked green beans.

                                                      2. This reminds me of the time my husband told me to close my eyes and think of cocoa puffs. He then held the jar of generic beef soup base in front of my nose. From a very specific distance (not too far/not too close) it smelled exactly the same.

                                                        1. I think very dark coffee beans smell like canned tuna, and I love coffee. Underripe mangoes taste like pine trees smell, yet I've never met a mango I did not like.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Isoldamay

                                                            "I think very dark coffee beans smell like canned tuna"

                                                            YES! I knew there was something I was forgetiing! I've thought this almost all my life. This is a fascinating thread.

                                                          2. snyder's honey mustard onion sourdough pretzels taste like mcdonald's hamburgers.

                                                            They're one super-processed food compared to another, but i liked the pretzels enough to at some point hate them.

                                                            1. basil tastes like liquorice in jars of tomato sauce like Ragu

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: smartie

                                                                That actually makes sense, since there are types of basil that have a pronounced anise flavor to them.

                                                              2. Oh two more

                                                                Gator Tail taste like buttery chicken

                                                                Apple Cider Vinegar taste like the base of a sour patch kid.

                                                                1. Gin always tasted like carrots to me (an ex always drank gin & tonics).

                                                                  1. Years (and years) ago when I smoked cigarettes as a teen I discovered that if you were drinking lemonade and smoked an Old Gold it tasted just like caramel. This did not work with any other brand of cigarettes in my experience.

                                                                    1. a couple other things i remembered:

                                                                      baco noir that tasted like werther's originals.
                                                                      early grey and honey ice cream... fruit loops.

                                                                      1. The only thing that tastes "just like chicken" is iguana.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                              that may well be...but I'm very happy not to know personally.

                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                            I think a lot of the reptiles and amphibians taste like chicken. I think Frogs legs taste a lot like chicken.

                                                                            1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                              "I think a lot of the reptiles and amphibians taste like chicken. I think Frogs legs taste a lot like chicken."

                                                                              The FN show Food Detectives with that Ted guy from Queer Eye did a segment on this. It has to do with something called a "slow-twitch muscle." All the animals you mentioned have this type of muscle and therefore they tend to "taste alike."

                                                                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                hah very interesting. I didn't know that.

                                                                              2. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                Frog's legs! Boy it's been a long, long, time since I went frog geeking. Oh, for the summer night of youth.
                                                                                The ones is Asian restos. just don't taste the same.

                                                                            2. Had pizza last night with mushrooms, Gorgonzola and truffle oil. I thought of this thread, because I kept tasting anchovy. It was very vivid. (Can a taste be vivid? I think so.)

                                                                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                  In the Asian groceries haw candy is hawthorne berry candy. Maybe it's the same?

                                                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                    same thing. they come in very thin discs that are rolled together like coins. they're quite sweet.

                                                                                2. I do not go near Subway sandwich shops because of the foul odor they emit. It's my understanding that the odor is that from their breads proofing amidst everything. If I owned a sandwich shop as they do, my sandwich shop would smell welcoming, not like theirs that reeks of stale beer combined with stale urine and the smell of cheap cold cuts.

                                                                                  Stinky, stinky, and stinky again. Thankfully, my tastebuds tell me not to go in there !!

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                                                    I worked at a subway when I was in college, that smell would attach itself to my clothes. I'd wash my work clothes right away. yeck

                                                                                    1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                      Agree with cilantro tasting like soap but I'm another one who has grown to love it, but in moderation. Ginger tastes like I've gotten a spray of perfume in my mouth or what eating pot pourri must taste like. I find it overpowering when it's sliced thin and served with sushi, but I love it minced in recipes and Asian marinades. Friend of mine professes to despise ginger but I served Ginger-Cilantro rice with dinner one night and she could not stop eating it.

                                                                                  2. My wife, who has a prodigiously, indeed annoyingly, sensitive sniffer, insists that my high quality Spanish smoked sweet paprika smells like Band-Aids.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. Ginger Altoids taste like Pier One Imports smells.

                                                                                        1. re: edintern

                                                                                          Wait... How can that be? Papaya could taste like vomit if you regurgitated the papaya that you ate but if you ate a chili cheese dog with extra onions and regurgitated it then your vomit would not taste like papaya.

                                                                                          Vomit would only taste like what ever food you regurgitated.

                                                                                            1. re: edintern

                                                                                              i find both papaya and mango taste like dirt and maybe a little vomity...

                                                                                              1. re: Emme

                                                                                                The best description of papaya's taste and smell (at least the ones you get in the US) is from Adam Leith Gollner's totally swell book, "The Fruit Hunters": "vaguely unhygienic".

                                                                                            2. I don't taste much at all when I eat foie gras, just an indefinable richness which reminds me of potatoes. It hits the same spot as mashed potatoes or potatoes au gratin.

                                                                                              1. I know it has to do with the enzymatic composition of foods, which can be tricky and subjective to one's own palate. I have eaten tomatoes that had the same "tang" as eggplant, blueberries also contain that almondy taste, as do peaches. Basil=soap is familiar to me, but only if it's dried basil, isn't that strange? Cilantro=no problem. Great thread.