The concept of “acquired taste” eluded me until New Year’s Eve 2006 when I decided that two of the world’s apparent great pleasures – sushi and wine – had escaped me long enough. 2007 was going to be the year that I dove in and acquired, and I expected a difficult journey.
I lived in Korea as a child and remember meandering through the markets on weekends watching fresh fish wrapped in rice and green fruit rollups. Imagine my disappointment when I first gave it a go. At the time, “it’s an acquired taste” seemed like a nice way of telling me my palette wasn’t quite sophisticated enough to appreciate the complexities of ocean road kill swathed in compost. I was ok with that. Yet, twenty years later and back home in the US, two little innovations opened my mind to try it anew: the Philly roll, and what I have dubbed “that nifty little conveyor belt thingy.” Now I doubt the inside-out avocado and cream cheese fabulousness was created by the likes of Korea and Japan, but it was my foot in the raw fish door, and I’ve never stepped back out.
The taste of wine was harder for me to “acquire”. Simple syrup pumps through my veins and I’m proud to be “that girl” that orders sugar-rimmed peachtinis in dive bars, so “fermented” isn’t the kind of description I jump at on a menu. But while others make their families proud by getting a promotion or running their first 10K, my resolution was born from imagining the twinkle in my family’s eyes when I poured myself a glass of Pinot at our next Thanksgiving dinner. And five years later, all mixers have been shunned from my home in favor of boxed Shiraz in the fridge (you know, for company) and Cupcake Cabernet and Seven Deadly Zins on my wine rack (I totally judge a wine by its cover – I’ll acquire class later).
So if you’ve previously tasted something and subsequently deemed it atrocious and extremely unworthy, taste again. Wine and sushi are now, in yes particular order, two of my favorite indulgences – and tastes absolutely worth acquiring. And since that fateful year, onions, spinach, mussels, dark chocolate, gorgonzola, Enrique Iglesias and Cap’n Crunch Oops All Berries have made their way off my “hell no” list. I’m pleased to learn that my taste buds are all grown up, and I’m looking forward to acquiring further tastes. Here’s hoping they don’t invent an oyster conveyor belt.