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...the first time you had caviar?
Swoon with pleasure after your first taste of foie gras? Did your eyes roll back in your head the first time you had sushi?

How about sauerkraut? Anchovy? Buttermilk?
Some people who love them say these foods "are an acquired taste." Did you have to learn to like goat's cheese? Maybe black coffee, kimchi or capers, menudo or pickled beets?

And if you did "acquire a taste," how? Did you revisit some food from time to time and find your acceptance growing? Did someone prepare the offensive food in a new, tasty way? Did you find it more enjoyable with candlelight, white linen and a glass or two of wine? Or have you given up and made peace with the fact you're never gonna like sweetbreads?

I'd to hear your experiences. As a terribly picky child, forced to sit at the table for hours trying to choke down cold liver, I know that method is not conducive to broadening one's food repertoire.

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  1. Sushi, goat cheese, sweetbreads, I loved right away (okay, sweetbreads I liked, not loved). Deeply flavored fish I had to get over myself and the family bias against "fishy-flavored fish" first, but I've done it and I love it. Ditto caviar. Sauerkraut I grew up with, so it's a given in a German-rich culinary history. I've loved capers forever. et cetera. I think I was Mexican in a previous life, so I love that tartness added to almost anything.
    I can't stand liver in any form except sometimes I really love some braunschweiger on crackers. And i"ve had liver not knowing i was eating liver and hated it, so I think I came by it honestly.
    I really love gizzards, the only other organ meat I seek out (gave up on sweetbreads a long time ago, they were okay, but not memorable). A local fast-food place makes awesome fried gizzards, and everything else they do (luckywishbone.com).

    3 Replies
    1. re: EWSflash


      I can identify with the fishy-fish thing. Lots of people in my generation started with fish sticks dunked in catsup and tuna sandwiches on white bread slathered with mayo and graduated to fish and chips, then a mild broiled halibut and on to salmon and even sardines and anchovies. Too bad there wasn't a starter for cilantro. :-)

      1. re: ItalianNana

        Nana, i took to cilantro like a duck to water. And once visited a friend on the Kenai peninsula, we caught a halibut and somebody dropped a few salmons off at my friend's house for smoking, so I cut off a couple of steaks and I have never been so seriously satisfied before or since, culinarily speaking. We also ate a lot of king crab, before it had been totally fished out of the area. Man, oh man, those were the days.

        1. re: ItalianNana

          I hope that someday in cool weather you grow some cilantro of your own and find out how wonderful it is when homegrown, it's a cool weather plant, BTW

      2. Instantly loved chicken livers.

        Still won't eat fishy-fish, caviar, sauerkraut/kimchi, horseradish, bleu cheese.

        Took a while for goat cheese and cilantro, but love them both now.

        Started with white zinfandel and now love a deep cabernet.

        EDIT: NEVER sushi. It's a lot of white rice, I don't like wasabi, raw fish is a major no-go for a former colitis sufferer. Actually, I think that where sushi is concerned, the Emperor Has No Clothes.

        10 Replies
        1. re: sandylc


          Haha, started with white zin too. Now love Pinot Noir or a full bodied Cab. Don't like wasabi or seaweed and prefer my rice hot. I'm still trying with new tastes but suspect that the sushi-guru is buck naked. Maybe I'm just jealous that so many people seem to enjoy a lean, cool food.

          1. re: ItalianNana

            Yikes, forgot about that fishy salty seaWEED crap that people eat in sushi!!!! Yes, I, too, am sometimes jealous that I don't enjoy sushi; but then I just decide no one else is enjoying it, either - they're just pretending so they can be cool. My way is cheaper and more pleasant.

            1. re: sandylc

              OMG- no, no! I love seaweed in so many forms! Nori is somehing I'll eat like potato chips. I crave it, in fact.
              Loving sushi has nothing to do with being cool, for me at least, so kindly don't pigeonhole all of us, plus millions of Japanese people, as poseurs or dilettantes. I';m trying to be nice here, but frankly, my back is up, and wonder how awful your sushi experiences have been to have you drum up that snotty opinion of people that enjoy sushi.

              1. re: EWSflash

                hear hear! for me, loving sushi is about enjoying the freshness of the seafood, the artistry of the chef, not about being cool.

                1. re: EWSflash

                  My opinion is honest, not snotty. Rotten fish is not a good taste, no matter which way you package it.

                  1. re: sandylc

                    If it's rotten then it's not sushi. I've had some tired sushi and sashimi, mostly at some low-end places in Nashville, and a Japanese friend would not even go in the door: "It isn't SUSHI!" she said. Sorry you don't like it; my first trial of it was one of those experiences where you realize this is and always has been your favorite food - you just didn't know that until you finally got some.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      My remark about rotten fish refers to seaweed.

                      1. re: sandylc

                        but just as some of us taste cilantro as soap, not all of us taste seaweed as rotten fish.

                        Some of us find the taste very agreeable, and having not even a hint of rotten fish.

                        There are also *plenty* of forms of sushi that haven't even been near a sheet of nori, particularly if you widen the definition to include sashimi.

                        Not yucking someone else's yum, etc., etc., etc.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          Not yumming someone else's yuck., etc., etc.

                2. re: sandylc

                  I don't like sushi either. I wish I did as it's both my best friend and SO's favorite thing to eat out. I've been to countless sushi places with well-meaning friends that say "well you haven't had it at THIS place". I just don't like it, no matter how good of sushi it is. I did have good sashimi once, at the aforementioned dinner at Tru that was pretty good, but that was of the highest quality and not something you find often.

            2. Are you writing a book?

              Frankly, my responses to your many questions would fill one.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bacardi1

                Not writing a book, but would happily read your "chapters." As Sinicle notes below, the reasons for loving or hating a food or dish are very complicated, often very emotional and probably frequently not consciously known to us. That is evident on threads about "poor people food you still crave" or the ones about weird things we ate and loved as kids and still consider a guilty pleasure. It's fascinating. I know that nearly all my favorite foods are cold weather things and I am much happier in the fall than the spring. Don't know why. I would love to hear more. :-)

              2. I was a very limited eater as a child. Never pressure from parents but I grew up in the fifties when my parents thought anything new and different was a plus. Now I eat almost anything and never needed to "acquire a taste." My wife worked very hard to be able to eat sashimi, which she now loves....but steak must be well done.

                Food preferences, IMO, are an extremely complex subject encompassing both genetics and multiple psychological issues. It's always interesting to listen to others' take on it, but difficult to draw any valid conclusions.

                1. There's no such thing as 'acquired taste' per se. If I don't like something why would I keep eating it and hope that, eventually, I'll like it?
                  OTOH, there were things I didn't like as a child and wouldn't eat but, tastes change and, as an adult, I've found that I do like some of the foods I once turned down.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: mucho gordo

                    Oh I do think many foods/dishes are an acquired taste. I would love to enjoy all flavors! It would make eating in all restaurants a pleasure. It would make world travel a fuller experience and eating a wide variety of healthy foods much easier. I have "learned" to like and ultimately really enjoy many things. Oh, I'm not going to expend any effort acquiring a taste for clavier or foie gras, but I work at appreciating all fruits (inc mango) and vegetables (inc beets and kale). And I really wish I shared my husband's pleasure in a medium rare lamb chop or steamed mussels.

                    Does that make sense?

                    1. re: mucho gordo

                      I've acquired tastes for some things I despised well into adulthood, as chronicled elsewhere on this thread. One taste I was conscious of acquiring in the course of a single meal was for cilantro. Our House-O-Hippies did a Mexican Night, and my girlfriend's contribution was chicken enchiladas Suizas. They included an herb I'd thought was parsley, while also wondering what that odd smell was, and then I tasted it. Ack, SOAP! But the rest of it was good, so I tried another bite. Two bites later I was hooked; it still tasted kinda like soap, but I loved it anyway. It still does, I still do.

                      1. re: mucho gordo

                        Yes there is- I hated avocados as a kid, I don't know why, until my folks were having an "adult" party once and there was some guacamole in the fridge, 1960s style, with bacon in it, and I loved the heck out of it, and have loved avocados ever since.

                      2. Today the only thing I don't like is gelatinous meats . I just cannot. do. it.

                        Chopped liver, liver with onions are foods I maybe crave once a year and I grew up around Russians who ate liver often. And herring, and loved fatty meats and deli.

                        The Ethiopian side of my family was always such a mystery when my Great Aunt would cook the whole house was rich in spices. The vegetable dishes were fine to my young tongue but the meats took me quite some time to truly appreciate. I didn't eat meat of any kind until I was probably 23. The breads that were baked in my home and my grandparents bakery were what I craved and grew up filling up on. Bread remains my favorite food group. Old-fashioned bakers have my heart.

                        The only food that took me a long time to LOVE is mushrooms. I'm not sure why. But a college pal turned me onto mushrooms by taking me to a farm that grew all sorts and that just changed my mind about 'shrooms forever.

                        As for your subject title, lick the spoon-my deep deep devotion to all things pudding includes getting to lick the spoon. Never met a pudding spoon I didn't like and I've fought my siblings for the spoon many times! Even if the meal was meh, the pudding was always outstanding.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: HillJ

                          Don't like the name, or the general look, but i sort of remember liking head cheese as a kid. Haven't seen it in years, though.

                        2. If I have to learn to like something, I'm just not inclined to eat/drink it, especially at my age!

                          1. I grew up with sauerkraut and buttermilk. Did not like liver as a kid, and rarely order it unless recommended. I went searching for a tripe recipe for over 10 years and found a wonderful rendition in Strassbourg, France.

                            My parents love to travel and travel to eat. My sister and I are the same way. My first sushi in Tokyo was fish bait. But I had a patient teacher and knew how to appreciate and enjoy it for itself by the end of the evening.

                            I have been to Sardinia, but had no desire to eat cheese that had passed through a maggot. The same with a duck foetus. But I am game to try a thousand year old egg.

                            The foods that immediately sprang to my mind are oddly enough scotch and a dry martini. They took some time.

                            1. I was not picky. As an infant, the only time I was known to refuse food was when we were snowbound at a roadside hotel in Maine, and the only baby food they had was strained green beans. And of course that was when I decided I did not like strained green beans.

                              We were all required to eat what was being served, at least a few bites. That evolved over several years from the earlier, stricter policy of eating all you were served, period, which saw me spend an entire afternoon in front of a plate of stewed tomatoes. Our family's recipe for that included torn-up pieces of stale bread, which to my taste totally contaminated the dish and rendered it dreadful. My mother finally understood that and removed the bread, and told me to eat at least two bites of the remaining tomato, thus saving the situation for both of us.

                              Up into adulthood, soppy bread and sweet custard were the only things I couldn't stand, at least until a girlbuddy insisted I try her favorite goat cheese, that brown Gjetost. That gave me a third, and almost kept me from trying chevre. I got over my soppy-bread thing as soon as I got into real bread, and have recently begun to enjoy some sweet custards. But for the most part, the effect on me of being required to eat everything as a child produced an adult who is almost obsessed with doing exactly that.

                              1. As a kid...hated: mushrooms, tomatoes, peanut butter & jelly, pizza, Chinese, macaroni & cheese, pecan pie (and probably a zillion others, but those are the ones that instantly come to mind)

                                As a late-teen...hated: beer, wine

                                Now...like: tomatoes, beer, champagne
                                Now...still don't like: mushrooms, peanut butter & jelly, pecan pie (although I probably don't "hate" it), wine (but like champagne)

                                1. Loved caviar -- and love roe on all kinds of sushi, although I'm not a big fan of uni -- go figure. Foie gras was an instant love.

                                  Sauerkraut wasn't a favorite until I got to Germany and tried it made with wine -- LOVE that, and really, really like the Alsatian version with beer. Anchovies draped over roasted red peppers.

                                  Our French friend did his best to find a cheese I wouldn't eat, buying progressively stinkier and more-aggressive cheese. He gave up after a few years. (but still won't admit I won... :) )

                                  Still can't drink buttermilk straight, have tried French andouille from award-winning producers and still can't figure out why someone who would put something that smells like THAT in your mouth, and won't eat beets unless I risk a major social gaffe by avoiding them.

                                  We were allowed one food as kids that we didn't have to eat -- mine was beets, and my sister's was mushrooms. She'll eat mushrooms now, but I still won't eat beets if I can get out of it.

                                  But I was pretty adventurous as a kid, and would try something just because it looked different.

                                  1. For me it was most vegetables. Like, I thought I hated green beans. But, the only kind I ever had growing up was canned. Then, in my 20's, I had some fresh sauteed green beans at a steakhouse, and from then on I was hooked. They're now one of my favorites. Same for many other vegetables. Once I had them fresh and cooked properly, I really enjoyed them.

                                    Funny story about caviar though. About 5 years ago, I was in my mid 20s, during the real estate boom in Chicago, making a lot of money, and a friend of mine, who had recently graduated from Northwestern law school and was working his first "big firm" job in CA was back in town visiting. We decided to go eat at Tru since we thought we were kind of a big deal....even though all our previous meals together were at comfort food or burger joints. We got all dressed up and went there, ordered the 12 course chef's tasting menu. The first item out (the amuse bouche) had caviar on it. We both tasted it, and both tried our hardest not to spit it out... since we were being so fancy and all. We both managed to get it down, but after that my friend told the waiter to not bring us anything else with caviar on it. The rest of the meal was great by the way. The only other thing I didn't eat was the squid ink pasta, but we traded plates (we each got different things each course) and he ate it happily.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                      Same story for me with the veggies. As soon as I tasted lovely, nicely cooked fresh ones, there was no looking back.

                                      I agree about caviar. Disgustingly old-fishy. What are people thinking?

                                    2. I was never really a picky eater, but it took me into adulthood to like sushi. Same for brussel sprouts and mushrooms.
                                      Things I've never liked and never will are liver, mustard and coffee.
                                      I have tried all sorts of mustard from French's yellow to the fancy schmancy stuff, and I just can't make myself be ok with it. If it's in a recipe, I'll sub something or leave it out. It just has a yuck factor that I can't describe.

                                      1. Loved sushi, sauerkraut, buttermilk, kimchi, brined (not salted) capers, beets prepared any way, seaweed, & goat cheese from day one.

                                        Chicken livers too, but my first exposure was in the form of Jewish deli chopped liver so that helped :)

                                        High-end caviar is wonderful, but the over-salted cheap stuff makes me gag. My first experience with it was NOT pleasant, but once I discovered *good* caviar I changed my stance on it.

                                        Re: wine, I chugged white zinfandel in college because it was cheap, not because it tasted good. Developed my wine palate in my 20's, actually drank reds exclusively for several years, and eventually expanded my tastes to include a true appreciation for most whites as well (though not that white zin).

                                        I've never had menudo or sweetbreads, though I would like to try both. But you can keep the foie - that's one thing I have no desire to sample.

                                        I've always appreciated black coffee, but I prefer it with cream & a little sweetener.

                                        Ginger and cilantro both tasted like soap to me when I was younger, but strangely enough something changed around age 25 and they're now two of my favorite flavors.

                                        I absolutely *hated* anything coconut until a few years ago, now I adore it.

                                        Tongue does NOT sit well with me, I just can't get past the texture.

                                        Other non-mainstream things I've loved since my first taste - pickled herring, uni & escargots.