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Things that don't taste like you expected they would...

Many years ago, I was told that I just HAD to try rooibos tea. "It has a slightly smokey honey flavour -- it's fantastic," said a friend whose taste I trust. I like honey, and smokey honey sounds lovely so I was eager to try it. I ordered it when an opportunity arose after a nice meal at a restaurant. I swirled the teapot around and poured myself a cup of tea, taking in the slightly smokey herbaceous scent. Wrapping my hands around the cup and with pent up anticipation, I took my first-ever sip of rooibos...

I promptly ordered another cup of tea -- this time Earl Grey.

Based on what people had told me and from the scent of the tea, I was not expecting it to taste like the after taste you get with artificial sweeteners. Wretched stuff.

It could also be that something tasted differently than you expected but in a neutral or good way.

Anyone want to share a story? :)

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    1. Uni. Not sure what I expected it to taste like, but it was horrible. Iron Chef made it look and sound so good. :(. I still want to try it again though because it still looks and sounds good to me.

      12 Replies
      1. re: viperlush

        I have a Uni story. My former SO and I used to order sushi combos so we could try new items. One of them was Uni. It got down to the last piece left and one of us has to go first. That was me. As SOON as it hit my mouth, my thoughts went like this "OMG! The ONLY thing worth this is making sure the SO eats it too!" So I used all the control I had over my body to a) keep my face expressionless, B ) swallow. I was rewarded! My only comment is :You have to try it to understand". He did and promptly spit it across the room (and thankfully not on any other customer) We could only describe as "glad we did not step in it" Years later, and way more experienced (and no longer with that SO) I tried it again and it WAS heaven, like butter from the sea! Turns out the first Uni was bad and the second one was fresh and good. So maybe sometime a second chance is worth it.

        1. re: Quine

          Yeah, if I see it on a menu I'll give it another go. I just need to get over the texture.

          1. re: viperlush

            It should be buttery as I understand it. If that is not a texture that you like, well, it will not work for you. AND that is OK!

            But be aware, as I found out...know the sushi master and the freshness.

          2. re: Quine

            Wow Quine, I'm glad you gave it another shot. Your story brings up the possibility of a whole new thread: you try something for the first time and it's not fresh. Except it's your first time trying it, so how would you have known?!

            1. re: pdxgastro

              I am an adventurous eater by nature, and adore all kinds of fish and shellfish- raw, cooked and every way in between...except mussels. I got sick the first time I had them and have only tried once since. The flavor was immediately remembered/rejected by every fiber in my body. Haven't tried them since, and I'm ok with that!

            2. re: Quine

              This is what I am hopIng my second experience will be like. First was retched.

            3. re: viperlush

              I don't know what to make of this. I tried uni for the first time in my life in August. I am very adventurous, but for whatever reason, I had never been with anyone who wanted to try it. My SO at the time ordered two of everything and she told me to save it for last. I tasted it and can honestly say, I was furious. furious I'veen eating sushi and sashimi for 30 years and never tried it before. The most luxurious, buttery food i've ever eaten. Can't wait to have it again

              1. re: jhopp217

                One of my fondest food memories is the fish market in Santiago, Chile, where for about $6 US you can get a *plate* of fresh uni, with lemon juice to squeeze over it. Mmmmm....

                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                  That would be heaven. Really fine uni is an amazing experience -- it's unlike any other food, you could be eating something from another planet.

              2. re: viperlush

                Other things that I thought of (all alcohol):

                Red wine- When I was a child I expected all red wines to taste sweet. Red grapes make wine, so wine is just a fancy grape juice, grape juice is sweet, therefore red wine must be sweet. It didn't help that my parents don't drink much wine, except for my dad who enjoys drinking sweet concord grape wine spritzers in the summer. I was pleasantly surprised (after getting over the shock) that they weren't. I also thought that all whites and sparkling wines were dry since they weren't red like grapes and my parents never drank the sweeter ones.

                Scotch- My dad has always enjoyed sipping single malts and I always loved their smell (Speyside). I expected to be able to really taste the vanilla, caramel, and other aromas. Every time he offered me a sip I immediately ran to spit it out. Wasn't until my mid 20's did I learn to enjoy the taste.

                1. re: viperlush

                  Hahaha... I love the logic in imagining what red wine should taste like!

                  1. re: viperlush

                    Watching adults make such a big deal out of wine, I also tried to imagine the taste by thinking of the most delicious grape-based drink of my childhood (of all time?): Welch's grape soda. Actually tasting wine for the first time was a real loss of innocence. That was when I realized most adults are actually full of shit.

                    When I tried it I was expecting foie gras to blow my mind with deliciousness but it just tastes kind of potato-ish to me. Chinese black vinegar tastes surprisingly like maple syrup.

                2. We never can know what something tastes like to anybody else, especially when it comes to unusual flavors. I've discovered that with cilantro, pastis, marzipan and sweet bean paste. I love some of them and hate others, while for friends the opposite is true. Hard to sort it out.

                  1. Arugula. The usual description of "peppery & Bitter" sure sounds good but the taste is just atrocious to me. blech!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: meatnveg

                      I loooooved arugula the first time I had it because it was peppery and bitter, but the try after that just tasted like unpleasant lettuce. I think the taste of arugula changes a LOT from bunch to bunch. I read somewhere that the pepperiness increases the later you harvest it.

                      1. re: Manybears

                        True that. Spring arugula, or supermarket arugula, is pretty mild. I bought arugula at a farmer's marketin late summer and it was so peppery I couldn't eat it.

                    2. Truffle - It wasn't disgusting, just kind of nothing. Supposedly it was a "good" truffle. If so, they're just not for me.

                      Tonic water - I was expecting a clean taste, and I thought I was drinking essence of 10,000 year old dirt.

                      Caviar - mostly salty, unexciting. Might as well let these eggs grow to full fishhood.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jay F

                        Cheap caviar is salty and needs to be cut with chopped hard boiled eggs and double cream. Good caviar is wonderful without all the fuss. (Typically $100+/oz) It's not cheap, but it's cherished treat me and my SO have had a few Christmas'.

                      2. The only real shock was the first time I tried a curried dish. My brother made curried chicken and rice once and I literally got ill from the smell. first time that had ever happened to me. The next time, i fought the gagging and I tried it. The second it hit my taste buds, the noxious smell suddenly became fragrant. I got it. It is one of my faves now.

                        1. Marrow. After watching Tony Bourdain singing it's praises and making orgasmic noises on my TV for years whenever he encountered it, I expected to love it. It was just so gross to me. Not the concept, but the actual taste and texture. It was just like eating slightly liquified fat off the edge of a steak. I mean, I don't mind a little fat with a steak, but this was just like the fat and nothing else. Flavor, texture, whatever, not my thing.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rockandroller1

                            So I guess you never sucked the marrow out of chicken bones?

                          2. Spleen (in a vastedda) I didn't write the article in this link, but the author nailed it perfectly. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/arc...

                            Durian. I knew it was likely going to be a horrible experience. It was worse than that. Supposedly if you can get past the smell, it's kind of sweet. But I have no idea how you get past the smell. We recorded it for posterity. I'm the old guy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iuImb...

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Panini Guy

                              I was a little surprised it didn't seem to smell worse. I remember watching Bizarre Foods and the second it was cut Zimmern was practically running away

                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                The smell of durian wasn't too bad for me. As I tried it for the first time, I was thinking to myself, "Great. It doesn't smell that bad. Everybody says that the smell is the worst thing and it tastes like sweet custard." So I was picturing something like a creme caramel but a bit funkier, perhaps maybe a bit cheesy. Well, they were wrong. It's the taste that's the worst -- I couldn't get over the rotten onion flavor.

                                1. re: Panini Guy

                                  Durian- horrid! I wasn't even sure what part to eat when I cut it open. I had to look online. And yes, you do eat the part that looks like part embryo/part lung. It did not taste like custard or pineapple or anything delicious I was promised. I tasted a combination of garlic/onion and pine cone. Nasty stuff. I won't be trying that again.

                                  1. re: Panini Guy

                                    Haha durian is one of my favourite foods. It is my favourite fruit actually! And there are actually 2 kinds: sweet and bittersweet. Loooooove the latter. Oh and the smell heh.

                                    1. re: youngnsassy

                                      Another fan of durian here. I think it's delicious, though definitely has undertones of onion.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Ooh, I don't know if I could do balut, and I am usually willing to try anything. What does it taste like? Do tell...

                                    2. Calamari, I expected some fishy flavor, and it wasn't, and it IS one of my favorite foods.

                                      1. Coffee - I love the way it smells. But the taste is always so disappointing to me.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: jeanmarieok

                                          Your profile says Richmond, so I'm going to suggest you head over to Globehopper and ask for a cup of Papua New Guinea Baroida. Let it cool for a bit then try it black before you reach for any condiments. It may change your mind. It may not. And if it doesn't, you'll know for sure coffee isn't your thing.

                                          1. re: Panini Guy

                                            I love Globehoppers - I'll give it a try!

                                          2. re: jeanmarieok

                                            i was scrolling down to write the same -- smells lovely when it's being ground... i never enjoy it as a brewed drink. and though it's an acquired taste, i needn't acquire any more unnecessary addictions. i'm okay with not spending 5 dollars a cup, or needing one to get out of bed.

                                            1. re: Emme

                                              Emme, I'm not out to convert you, but I do want to challenge the "unnecessary addiction" thing. I, like many others I know in the coffee industry, will gladly go without coffee than drink bad coffee. No headaches or anything. When you're drinking really great coffees, you're savoring the taste, not injecting caffeine.

                                              And those $5 dollar cups are rarely just coffee, although some coffees do command that price unadorned. Those $5 cups so often quoted by the press are usually hot coffee-flavored milkshakes.

                                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                                understood. let me rephrase... i'm kind of okay with not adding coffee to my repertoire. i have enough other loves at the moment that i don't really want to expend the effort to "get to like" something. if i like it, great, and if i don't, just means i'm leaving more for you.

                                                but i totally respect and understand your point.

                                              2. re: Emme

                                                Agreed. Coffee smells wonderful, but I don't really enjoy drinking it. I do like it as a flavoring for desserts though.

                                            2. Homemade mayo. I expected it to taste pretty similar to the store-bought stuff, so man was I wrong. Amazing, and one of my favorite things to make.

                                              Also, escargots. I expected them to taste, well, snaily. I didn't realize that they're pretty much a butter delivery vehicle. Mmm, escargots....

                                              1. Campari. How can something so pretty taste like a glass of dirt?

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                  Haha! I once bought a bottle of San Pellegrino soda I'd never seen before at an Italian import store because. It was pretty and had an orange on it, and I like orange flavored things. I took one sip and had to pour the rest out. It was awful, bitter stuff. Turns out the pretty orange was a Chinotto, which is one of the primary flavorings in Campari.

                                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                                    YES! Totally agree. When I was in Milan, all of my Milanese friends were like, "you have to try a spritz (prosecco + Campari). They are great and it's what all the locals drink." Needless to say, I think it's an acquired taste...

                                                    1. re: Juniper

                                                      And the thing is, I like other bitter drinks. Bring on the Fernet, the Cynar. But I just cannot tolerate Campari in any cocktail. I swear, the color has something to do with it. Fernet-Branca *looks* like something that will be bitter. Campari looks like it should taste wonderful and then feel like I just sipped from the bottom of a flowerpot.

                                                    2. re: LeoLioness

                                                      Speaking of bitter tastes, I find that most Americans didn't grow up with them, are not used to them, and don't like them. Meanwhile, Deepak Chopra says that Americans are overweight because they don't satisfy the 4th taste bud, bitter. The mouth craves bitter but it's not part of their diet, so Americans try to satisfy it with sour, sweet or salty.

                                                      1. re: pdxgastro

                                                        Sorry, I didn't finish the thought. You keep eating more and more sour, sweet, salty to satisfy bitter, but if you had eaten that little bit of bitter your mouth wanted, you would not eat as much. (Simplified explanation)

                                                        1. re: pdxgastro

                                                          huh. I find this fascinating! And it makes so much sense, when you think about it. You are constantly searching for satiety, and if you're missing that fourth flavor, well you'll keep looking (overly simplified, too).

                                                          1. re: pdxgastro

                                                            Looks like I'm now officially working in some super-dark chocolate at every meal as part of my diet plan ;)

                                                            1. re: pdxgastro

                                                              I would agree with this in the context of the fifth "flavor": umami. On many occasions I've had a meal and just needed something meaty and unctuous to "wash it down". But I'm not so sure I am sold on the "bitter" idea. Something to think about, though.

                                                            2. re: pdxgastro

                                                              This exact idea came up in dinner conversation tonight. All at the table agreed that we Americans definitely don't get enough bitter in our diet.

                                                          2. i'm not a fan of tequila... in fact, i don't much care for most hard alcohol, particularly straight up. that said, Jose Cuervo, I believe it's familia reserva... is completely smooth and drinkable and enjoyable for me. nothing like tequila that i know.

                                                            1. Epoisses (a French triple creme cheese). The flavor might have been okay, but the texture was this nasty, goopy mess.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                You forgot to mention Epoisses' pungent aroma. This is my favorite cheese. The smoothe, buttery taste of the cheese goes perfectly with a crusty baguette. The rind is a combination of pungency mixed with butter. Only its aroma precludes me from taking it to work for lunch, that is, unless my coworkers have plucked my last nerve. Then, bring on the the stinky cheese!

                                                                1. re: Vidute

                                                                  OMG, a perfectly ripe, Gaugry Epoisses (the only one made with raw milk nowadays, I believe) is a thing of beauty. It does get a little goopy when it's too ripe, but I love it anyway.

                                                              2. Evian water- it tastes like liquid dirt to me. Can't stand the stuff.

                                                                1. Wasabi! First time I ever tried sushi, I was by myself and I saw this little pastel green ball of what I thought must be some kind of Japanese sweet similar to those mochi items I've seen. So I decided to pop the whole thing in my mouth and took a few chews, then IT HIT!!! Regrettably I discovered it wasn't sweet, but seemed quite capable of possibly evaporating or exploding my head, or so it seemed at the time. Lesson learned: always take someone familiar with an untried cuisine when you try it for the first time

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: arktos

                                                                    A high school friend had a younger brother who loved to tell his friends that the tube of wasabi was toothpaste. He would pretend to eat it and then tell them to. We found it fun, his friends not so much.

                                                                  2. I'm with the OP, Juniper. Rooibos tea was such a disappointment. I have a South African friend who adores it, and I live to collect funky herbal teas, and all I can taste is sicky sweet smelling rotten fruit. You know that sweet smell at the dump? Yep. In my mouth. My SA friend insists there's no good rooibos to be found in our town. I hope she's right.

                                                                    And durian! I read long and hard before I smuggled one across the border back from Vancouver BC. To me, it smelled like strawberries! (and they say it "smells like hell"!) Imagine my sadness when I just tasted bland onionishness.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Vetter

                                                                      Natto (whole, fermented soy beans) tasted far worse than the unappealing, off-coffee smell. What really got to me was the extraordinary viscosity of the goo surrounding the beans. Kind of like joke-shop snot.

                                                                      1. re: Vetter

                                                                        Ahhh that sucks, about the durian I mean. The fact that it smeels even remotely sweet, with no pungency at all means that it's a bad one. It's just like any other fruit, the smell of it indicates how good that particular piece is. I do hope you give it another try!

                                                                      2. Foie Gras. I expected it to be mealy and gross like any other liver. When I first tried it after having a few glasses of wine, I fell in love.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Avalondaughter

                                                                          Ah, me as well. It is so buttery and soft and delicious.

                                                                        2. My first seared tuna steak... was like a mild steak. No canned tuna at all.

                                                                          1. Truffles. Even better than I expected but they are the white truffles I've had after truffle hunting in Europe so as fresh as can be. So earthy and, well, hard to describe, but wondrous. Every time we have them I fall in love all over again.

                                                                            Aceto balsamico tradizionale de Modena, aged 50 years. I knew it would be divine but was not prepared for now divine and thick and syrupy it is. Just bought more of it in May. Grocery store balsamic is not even a pale imitation (goes without saying, I guess).

                                                                            1. Chestnut Butter!
                                                                              I can't believe how disappointed I was with this stuff!
                                                                              Last year I had some roasted chestnuts too.
                                                                              Yep same flavor. Only worse texture.
                                                                              And SO not bothering to roast and peel them.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Sparklebright

                                                                                True, roasted chestnuts sounded so good, but they tasted like unflavored mealy beans... tried them again as a Bonne Maman chestnut jam... even worse...

                                                                              2. "the after taste you get with artificial sweeteners" That's a pretty good description of how Rooibos tastes to me too. My unexpected taste sensation was nopales. I expected they would taste, I don't know...exotic, somehow. But to me they tasted pretty much like green beans.

                                                                                1. Blue cheese.... I remember thinking "it can't be that awful, its so popular".... well after 1/2 tsp on a cracker I was dying! It was so awful I kept making whiny moaning sounds throughout the masticating and swallowing, I was once in labor and never did make such awful noise...

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: CallAnyVegetable

                                                                                    ha! i found out by mistake that i didn't like avocado or blue cheese as a kid when i ordered a chef salad (hold the bacon)... i was with my never-in-a-good-mood father, and couldn't send it back or order something else. i just remember thinking, "ew what is that tastes mushy and horrible? and what is that that tastes fetid and rotten?" i'm pretty sure the menu didn't articulate or enumerate the ingredients, and i wasn't saavy enough at 7 to know.

                                                                                  2. EVERY Halloween season, I have to remind myself, just once, how gross candy corn is!