Odd tastes

My top food loathing has always been coconut. I can’t bear the smell. One of my daughters shares this loathing with me. She told me recently it was only the desiccated form that she couldn’t stand so I bravely experimented. Lo and behold, me too!

So I now bravely use coconut milk in my cooking. I recently discovered coconut water is something one can buy too, and assumed it was the same as coconut milk. But no, I’ve learned coconut milk is produced from the grated flesh of a mature coconut, while coconut water is the watery liquid inside a maturing young coconut. In Papua New Guinea the Pidgin English name for a young coconut is kulau, the same word applying to its liquid content. But I digress.

As a child, I couldn’t eat tomato. It just revolted me – the texture, the taste, the smell. Then one day in my late teens, I discovered tomato could be disguised if it was with some other food, even just bread and butter. Now, decades later, I still don’t like to eat tomato by itself.

Someone I know can’t stomach even the smell of the spices and herbs in Indian food. Another person (me, actually) can’t abide the smell of popcorn – it always reminds me of coconut, desiccated of course. That means I avoid Mexican food altogether because to me the smell of popcorn permeates all those nachos and burritos and fajitas. I wish it were otherwise!

The only time I can put up with popcorn is when I’m with my young grandsons at the movies. It helps if it’s an engrossing movie, which doesn’t happen often in a cinema full of children. I sit in that dark space wondering if there are other people in the cinema like me, almost nauseated by the smell of popcorn but enduring it in the interests of love and good relations.

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Taste is such a funny thing. When my children were tiny, it was the done thing to gradually introduce new foods a little at a time as a cautious introduction to the world of tastes awaiting them. I didn’t experiment much with strange tastes for them but to my astonishment, after accidental exposure they quite liked such flavours as pickles and spicy foods – and one of them loved to eat cold squishy leftover silverbeet. Inexplicable.

Someone I knew had a grandson who was one of those kids you hear about who can’t and won’t eat a range of foods. You hear some despairing story like, ‘he only eats Vegemite and cheese flavoured crackers, and sometimes a spoonful of baked beans’. My friend’s grandson was like that.

Once he reached five or six, his grandma decided to challenge him: for every new food he succeeded in adding to his diet (meaning he’d still be eating it a month later), she would give him $20, a lot of money when you’re five or six. It meant of course that for every new food added to his diet, he had to attempt a variety of new foods. She ended up giving him more than $100 over two years. His parents were pleased, and so was the boy.

Do you have intense feelings about some foods? Is your pet hate something others hate too, like stinky cheese, or something so ordinary that others find it extraordinary that you don’t like it?