Saturday, June 12, 2010

According to Taste

All my life I have hated seafood. No, I'm not allergic to fish and shellfish. I just don't like the tastes. At all. It doesn't matter if it's the whitest, least fishy tasting variety. The smell and flavor make me gag. Same thing with lobster and shrimp and don't even get me started on mussels, clams or oysters.

Suffice it to say, this is not a menu choice for me. Ever. I have not eaten fish since 1968. For those of you who are not-Catholic, prior to 1968, Catholicism decreed that we could not eat meat on Fridays. I would have been perfectly happy with macaroni and cheese or eggs for dinner, but Mom decided that every once in awhile I had to eat fish. She realized that she could get me to do so if she baked up some frozen fish sticks. (Poor Mom. A gourmet cook, she could broil, bake, saute or poach fresh caught filets in a variety of ways. She must have hated pulling a box out of the freezer for my sake.) She didn't know until I told her as an adult that the only reason I choked those rectangles of indeterminate fish flesh down was because I smothered them in ketchup.

My nephew once challenged me to prove that I really do dislike seafood. I barely managed to chew and swallow a bite of his grilled grouper without heaving. A couple of years ago, a friend dared me to eat lobster. Even drowned in melted butter, that forkful barely made it down the throat.

I wish I liked fish. It would make protein choices a whole lot easier. I live in a place where restaurants serve up fish that was swimming freely earlier that day. Sadly, I am unable to partake.

I have other food taste oddities, too. I love tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes and salsa but won't put a slice of cold tomato on a sandwich or cut it up in salad for love nor money.

Mushrooms gross me out just by existing. I can feel the tiniest bit of one in soup and get skeeved out.

Carrots, cabbage, beans, peas, cauliflower, broccoli - yum! Cucumbers, not so much.

Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries -- serve 'em up. Raspberries? Blech.

There are four major taste groups -- sweet, salty, bitter, acid. Some studies suggest that a person's taste preferences are largely inherited, but that upbringing, culture and familiarity can play a part. In that case, I'm a family oddball. Nobody else in my family of origin dislikes as many things as I do.

What I want to know is if it's possible to change my tastes. I know there are things we dislike as kids that we grow to love as adults, but I haven't been a kid in 45 years. Now, admittedly, if I got lost on a deserted island I would catch and eat fish rather than starve. At least I would after I ran out of coconuts. I'd prefer to not have to immerse myself in Survivor level tactics.

Is it possible that I could train myself to like, even enjoy, the occasional piece of freshly prepared fish?

Please don't hand me the line that it tastes just like chicken. If that's the case, I'll keep eating chicken. Why change?

What do you think? Got any suggestions?


Hope said...

I've learned to like a few things that I didn't like before by eating them in ways that minimized them until I got to the point where I could eat them and actually enjoy them. Olives come to mind. Eggplant to.

But I will go to my deathbed hating mushrooms with every fiber of my being!

Deborah Blake said...

I hate zuccini and lima beans. I can eat zuccini bread (since you can't taste the zuccini in there, and the texture is mitigated by the rest of the ingredients) and occasionally a bit that is stirfried in Japanese and Chinese food. On the other hand, there are lots of other veggies, so why bother?

On the other hand, I love seafood.

Used to hate mushrooms, and now I love them, so anything is possible.

(WitchyBetty popping by from Lucy's)