Adjusting your tastes


I remember the first time I tried a martini.

I had been watching M*A*S*H,1 and the lead characters had been on and on about the still they operated in their tent and how great martinis are.

So martinis—and how great and fashionable they must be—played wildly in my pre-teen mind as the family went out to dinner at the Tower of Americas in downtown San Antonio.

When it came time to order dinner I asked for one. When that request was declined, I explained that I would be willing to try a bit of someone else’s if they got one.

No one else wanted one.

I am sure I harped on about the subject as San Antonio slowly circled the high altitude revolving restaurant.2

I know I asked again and again as we strode past the Alamo on our way back to the car.

Pre-teens (and pretty much anyone under 25 years old) can be pretty annoying when they want to be.

I was no exception.

Finally, I wore my stepdad, Paul, down.

As we approached the car, he finally promised to make me one when we got home.

The half-hour ride back out to the suburbs could not get over quickly enough.

Finally quiet3 descended in the car as I spent the ride home dreaming of the bliss awaiting me.

Getting out of the car, into the house, and getting to the table—where I sat like a dog looking for a treat—took somewhere just short of an eternity.

I watched, entranced, as the drink was mixed.

I trembled with anticipation as the stemmed glass was set in front of me.

Then I took that first sip.

And …

… it …

… was …


I damn near spit it all over the place.

Then I considered and took another sip.

Yup …

Icky—No doubt about it.

Over the years I have managed to consume the gasoline-tasting drinks—but the martini has never made it into even the late-round picks of my drink draft list.

I have found that they are at their low-bar best when they are “dirty” though.5

Some things take some getting used to.

Who liked coffee the first time they tried it?




Think back to the first time you tried one of these things. Do you remember liking any of them right off the bat?

You might not remember the date or what was going on around you ... but you remember the experience.

I thought ALL these things were dreadful at first.

I remember when Coca-Cola began distributing in China one new taster sourly said, “tastes like medicine,” as a comment on the newly-available soft drink.

Some things just take acclimation before the “finer points” can be truly appreciated.

By the way, did you notice that pretty much everything on that list could be listed in the “bad for you” category?

There are plenty of things that seem bad at first blush that aren’t actually harmful though.

There’s Lutefisk.

Some people actually like the repulsive Norwegian dish made by soaking whitefish in water and a mixture of lye until it rounds into a gloriously gelatinous goo.6

There are tomatoes.

I love the red fruits,7 but there are those who cannot stand the overall consistency and/or lack thereof.

I always thought sushi would be unpalatable. Uncooked fish sounded more like bait than food. When I finally got around to trying it in my thirties, I was mildly surprised to find I really enjoyed it.

So taste, consistency, cultural influences and preconceptions apply in these matters.

I did finally get used to some of the above mentioned items. For instance, though I hated beer the first time I tried it, but at my first apartment (during my senior year of high school) we drank enough of it that we created a spider web out of the old timey pull-tabs beer used to come with. That web did a good job concealing the ceiling of a medium-sized living room.

I have also overcome my early aversion to scotch and can now even tell the difference between “good” scotch and that of a lesser quality.

I have never tried haggis. I would, but I have never come across any place that has it on their menu—and I am not even going to think about attempting to stuff a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs (along with onion, oatmeal, salt and stock) into a sheep’s stomach and try to cook it.

There are things even I won’t do.

As an adult I have come to consider myself a culinary adventurer—meaning I am willing to try almost any food or drink at least once.

Though I have come to enjoy some initially repellent things (NOT martinis), you never really forget your first time experiencing something you started off hating.


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