I’ll be honest with you I like rum. I have always enjoyed anything with rum: clear rum, spiced rum, rum shots, cocktails, and daiquiris. I drink them all. There was no learning to like rum. I loved it from my first sip.
This has not been true for a few other foods and drinks.
I didn’t like ketchup growing up. I would eat my fries with barbecue sauce or ranch dressing. I wouldn’t eat hamburgers or hot dogs if they had ketchup anywhere near them. I was appalled at the idea of meatloaf. To me, the smear of ketchup on top was the most disgusting thing a person could eat.
That all changed almost immediately after becoming pregnant with my son. I was 17 years old and couldn’t get enough fries with ketchup. I will never understand why it happened, but I’m glad it did. I still don’t care much for other tomato based foods, but now I couldn’t live without my ketchup.
But there are other things that I had learned to love. There are things that I thought I should like, but just didn’t. So I did what any sane person would do and explored. I taught myself what I did like and how to like more.
Coffee was my first goal. I grew up loving the smell of coffee. The smell of fresh beans and coffee houses really appealed to me. I just couldn’t find a cup of coffee that I actually liked drinking.
My journey started at Starbucks. I would order the White Chocolate Caramel Frappuccino with extra caramel and whip cream. I think it was more flavor, cream and ice than coffee. One day I tried it hot and was proud to finally be drinking a hot cup of coffee like a normal person.
Next, I moved on to General Foods International instant coffees. They were still creamy and sweet, but I was starting to taste the coffee. Eventually I moved on to the gourmet grocery store bean dispensers.
I drank a lot of flavored beans and got really wired up most mornings. All I needed by this time was two teaspoons of sugar and a single tablespoon of non-dairy creamer.
I have since found I like all roasts of good whole bean coffee and I don’t even need the non-dairy creamer. I like the liquid creamers, especially Italian Sweet Cream, but I can live without them. What I can’t live without is my five cups of coffee a day.
My next project was learning to enjoy a beer now and then. Don’t get me wrong; I always enjoyed a cold domestic lager. I drank my fair share of Rolling Rock, Budweiser and Miller Genuine Draft. However, anything darker made my tongue feel like it was going to retreat into the back of my throat. Again, it turned out I was drinking the wrong beer.
A little more than three years ago I started seeing my current boyfriend. He is the typical beer-guzzling man’s man and had even home-brewed for a time. This man of mine has been instrumental in my beer drinking education. He introduced me to Belgians, just slightly more flavorful than lagers. He taught me to drink imports and good brews. He taught me to spend the money on flavor instead of quantity.
Soon I was drinking brown ales and reds. Most recently I have found that I even enjoy good quality pale ales. It’s been a journey of acclimation, but my tongue sure is enjoying the ride. I think I may even be on my way to loving India Pale Ales.
Now I have moved on to learning what I like about wine. I drank plenty of wine coolers in my life, but they had to be extremely cold for me to enjoy them. Again, I really like the smell of wine, and adults drink wine, so I should like wine too, right?
Then one night at a party the host offered to open a bottle of his mother-in-law’s homemade wine. He said it would change my mind about real wine and let me pick the variety. I chose the elderberry and we drank it at room temperature. It changed my life and my idea of wine.
It wasn’t long before I was head-over-heels for the sangria served at a family birthday. I was really getting into the wine.
Before I had the chance, my boyfriend’s sister bought us a bottle of Duck Commander “Triple Threat” red blend. We are huge Robertson family fans and our family party was Duck Commander themed. We drank it warm and the taste was thick with a sweetness that didn’t overload the tastebuds.
So when I went for this week’s groceries, I decided to try a lighter wine. I chose Barefoot Wine & Bubbly Chardonnay. It says it has hints of green apple and peach with notes of honey and vanilla. It’s been hot here in Northern California and I wanted to keep it refreshing. I looked online and found that the best way to serve a chardonnay is to refrigerate it and then remove it 20 minutes before serving.
Then there are the things I will never enjoy.
I have never like the smell or taste of milk. PediaSure didn’t exist when I was young so the doctor had my mom keep me on formula until I was almost three. Apparently, I preferred it to the milk. I still have to ask someone else to smell the milk and tell me if it’s spoiled or not. Basically, it all smells bad to me.
I simply cannot stomach any kind of plain white milk. I have tried soy, goat and almond. I can only manage to drink the vanilla flavored types. I can drink chocolate, malt or strawberry milk. I eat ice cream, and all the wonderful cheeses of the world. But alas, the milk eludes me.
Pickles are a different kind of story. I think I may have a slight allergy to dill. Even using dill weed in cooking gives me the strange tingly itch up under my jawbone. It feels like my salivary glands need a good scratching from the inside. I actually like the taste of sweet pickles, but they must have some dill in them because even they give me a reaction. I don’t think there’s any learning to like pickles, no matter how much I’d like to.
I have concluded that you can learn to like foods you initially don’t enjoy. I knew I could love coffee, but I never thought I’d like the taste of rich, dark beer. Mostly, I think quality has a lot to do with it. If something isn’t made well, it won’t taste good and this can only make you dislike it more than you already did.
I have decided to not try everything once, but to try everything more than once and as often as possible. For example, you may not like broccoli, but that doesn’t mean you won’t like other green vegetables. There is something for everyone. I am going to keep trying until I find everything that I like to eat and drink.