amuse my bouche
December 6, 2020 10:07 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by the Christmas pudding question below, what are foods and drinks that are often considered an “acquired taste”?

Help me amuse myself during this pandemic winter. I love complicated tastes. Tell me about your Malörts and durians. Your rum raisin ice creams and anchovy pizzas. Things that a select few folks actually like but maybe it takes some getting used to. Things you need to understand to appreciate.
posted by jeweled accumulation to Food & Drink (54 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My favorite candy? Black Licorice.

Both sweet and salty.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:08 PM on December 6, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Gefilte fish - although it is perhaps more an issue of texture than taste.
posted by metahawk at 10:13 PM on December 6, 2020

Best answer: The first time I tried uni (sea urchin sushi) I declared it the worst thing I had ever put in my mouth.

Now I never don’t order uni when I’m having sushi.
posted by ejs at 10:16 PM on December 6, 2020 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Stinky cheeeeese
posted by The otter lady at 10:20 PM on December 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Any IPA. The first time I had one, all I could think was "People drink this on purpose?"
posted by Marky at 10:28 PM on December 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Some things I love that I don’t harass other people into trying:

Lox and cream cheese on a blueberry bagel (salty sweet sour fishy fruity creamy chewy)
Fried shrimp heads (related, I love whole shell-on fried prawns, the most crunchy, tossed in garlic chili sauce)
Deeply funky kimchi is the best to make a kimchi quesadilla with
Chopped liver is the big special occasion food in my family, we make it for Passover and Thanksgiving and any other food gathering holiday and I absolutely crave it regularly but have only known like three other unrelated people to love it like I do. It’s especially good with charoset on Passover, then it’s apples and wine and spices with the oniony organ meaty eggy salty chopped liver, all on crispy matzoh, truly a taste explosion.
Pickled okra is astounding, the little seeds pop open and the texture is so interesting, but it’s hard to find good pickled okra that isn’t a gift from a kindly neighbor.
Really dark chocolate can be divisive, I go for green & black’s 85% dark as a nice treat.
Fermented teas are a whole world of interesting and complex tastes. Brewing a pot of pu-erh can be ritualized just like drinking single malt.
posted by Mizu at 10:30 PM on December 6, 2020 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Smoky, peaty Scotch Whisky.
posted by mmoncur at 10:37 PM on December 6, 2020 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a bit hesitant when anywhere near the "foreign stuff is weird" cliff in an English-language conversation. But, I also am curious to hear other answers to this question.

Some things that I really enjoy and have also caused surprisingly strong negative reactions in other people: geietost cheese (caramel-like soft cheese), Nattō (sticky, slightly fermented soy beans), gentian/wormwood/anise liqueurs (bitters, malort, ouzo in various forms), Airag/Kumis (fermented milk), pulque (fermented but not distilled agave), stink bean (bitter vegetable), fully ripe jack fruit (which tastes like candy to me and I can't imagine disliking, but somehow people do.)

I think the one drink that has failed with every single person I've given it to since learning about it is gin and milk. Ideally, very cold, reasonably high-fat milk, mixed 50-50 with not-to-flowery gin. Bombay Dry and 4% that's been left in the freezer until ice crystals just begin to form is ideal. It's objectively an absurd pairing, and yet there's something weirdly compelling about it that I genuinely enjoy. (A friend of mine used to watch his elderly relatives serve it in north England in the '60s and turned me onto the crazy idea late one night.)
posted by eotvos at 10:52 PM on December 6, 2020 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Haggis, blood sausage.
posted by freethefeet at 11:13 PM on December 6, 2020

Best answer: Stinky tofu, yum.
posted by dum spiro spero at 11:16 PM on December 6, 2020

Best answer: Vegemite on buttered toast.
Pineapple, anchovy and jalapeño pizza.
Pasta sauce of canned sardines in olive oil and garlic, plain yogurt, and a splash of vinegar or wine based flavor. It's best on whole wheat pasta.
posted by Homer42 at 11:27 PM on December 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Marmite
posted by atlantica at 1:10 AM on December 7, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Fermented stuff seems to be a tricky one. Two in Japan are funazushi and shiokara. Both are deeply funky. And, just to be clear, this is not foreign foods are weird territory. Plenty of Japanese do not like these either.

Shiokara is bits of squid in fermented squid guts. Pretty simple. There is a little place a stones throw away from Akihabara that serves like 57 varieties of this.

Funazushi is carp that is gutted. I guess especially the swim bladder has to go? You throw away the guts. You stuff it with salt and ferment in a bucket layered with salt for a few months. Then, you clean out the salted fish and stuff them with rice. Back in the bucket to ferment again (this time layered with rice). Maybe a season, maybe a couple/few of years. Slice thinly and enjoy. And the rice! It's like the ultimate stinky sock stinky cheese rice pudding. So soft and gentle on the tongue, so pungent it'll give your durian a run for its money.

Both are improved by a nice glass of sake to go along with.
posted by Gotanda at 1:30 AM on December 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Deep blue cheese. mmm
Peanut butter and marmalade sandwiches.
English pea fritters. (only thing I miss from the UK). thanks
posted by unearthed at 1:33 AM on December 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Definitely fermented things. I love lactofermented cucumbers and like sauerkraut and kimchi, but not everyone does, apparently. Fermented beets, and beetroot soup made out of them. Fermented grain soups.

Pickled herring, and other variants of pickled fish.


Liver paté. I think that the reason I've liked this since childhood is that in my birth language we just call it "paté", and what you don't know can't gross you out.

But anything can be an acquired taste if you were subjected to particular kinds of cooking as a child. Seafood, mushrooms and most vegetables are things I only acquired a taste for during adolescence and adulthood. I still have a deep suspicion of the entire squash family, but there are specific butternut dishes that I find not just tolerable but delicious.
posted by confluency at 2:24 AM on December 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

(I recently discovered that my mother has never in her life eaten peanut butter. We have lived in a country where peanut butter is commonly eaten and widely available for over thirty years. I don't know how this is possible.)
posted by confluency at 2:25 AM on December 7, 2020

modernfarmer: 10 Fermented Foods That We Would Totally Try, Just Not Right Now, Thanks

Sweden fire turns cans of rotten fish into exploding missiles

Historically, ketchup started out as a fermented fish sauce.

In the 17th century, the Chinese mixed pickled fish and spices and called it (in the Amoy dialect) kôe-chiap or kê-chiap (鮭汁, Mandarin Chinese guī zhī, Cantonese gwai1 zap1) meaning the brine of pickled fish (鮭, salmon; 汁, juice) or shellfish.[7][8] By the early 18th century, the table sauce had arrived in the Malay states (present day Malaysia and Singapore), where English colonists first tasted it. The Malaysian-Malay word for the sauce was kicap or kecap (pronounced [kɛt͡ʃap]). That word evolved into the English word "ketchup".[9]

The term Catchup was used in 1690 in the Dictionary of the Canting Crew[10] The spelling "catchup" may have also been used in the past.[11]
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:01 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I love Hollandse Nieuwe! Especially on rye bread with onions.
posted by Pendragon at 3:09 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: root beer
beer and coffee in general, as many don't love their first taste
peanut butter
all extra squishy shellfish/seafood
seaweed (cochayuyo and similar)
posted by nzydarkxj at 3:37 AM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: On the fermentation topic:

Sour beer in general, but gueuze in particular, can be very divisive. Also Flanders Red ale, which can be vinegary bordering on balsamic.

Natural processed coffees.

Baijiu (such as Moutai, which you might see in airport duty free) is reputedly very challenging for the uneducated palate. I only tried it once and enjoyed it, but I think I was trying a fairly tame one.
posted by Omission at 4:03 AM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: Oh, and wine with 'faults': in particular, byproducts of brettanomyces fermentation ('barnyardy' flavours) and mousiness. Many people hate the former, most people hate even a hint of the latter.
posted by Omission at 4:10 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fernet, for sure.
posted by saladin at 4:31 AM on December 7, 2020

I think all non-sweet liquors taken straight are acquired tastes. Remember your first taste of gin, scotch, tequila, etc. etc.?
posted by tmdonahue at 5:20 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh I love this thread, keep it coming please.

There's an essay in The Man Who Ate Everything (collection of Vogue columns by Jeffrey Steingarten), that was all about the fact that, in order to be a fair food critic, you have to first try to acquire all the tastes... he failed, as anyone would, but it's changed my view of "food I hate," and my list has been getting shorter. I simply can't like cilantro, and I'll never be OK with eating spiders or insects. Everything else, I'll try to appreciate.

BTW Brussels sprouts are an easy thing to reconsider, simply because they objectively don't suck as much as they used to.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 6:13 AM on December 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Olives
posted by Sparky Buttons at 6:27 AM on December 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My mom‘s family had this anise cookie recipe that came over with them from Germany; it’s like a thousand years old, and it’s really complicated and took days because it was so huge that you were baking forever. Uses like lard and molasses and a gajillion grams of flour, and even after my dad cut it down and cut it down, the yield was “makes 5,000” or something.

After my mom died, it became even more important for Dad to make them, and he always gave them away to my sister when she visited and all my cousins on his side of the family. I remember one year after he moved in to a retirement center, my sister and I spent most of the time of her visit home making those cookies practically the whole time she was here, because we also had to ice them as well, so that he could give them away.

I loved them and ate tons, but dad was devastated when he found out that everyone else hated them, including my sister. Everyone I know hates anise, though I finally found one friend who enjoyed them—but shortly after he passed away and I haven’t made them since. This year I’m probably going to try even though I’m really intimidated by this recipe and I’m not a good baker. They’re so strong but so yummy—but that opinion is in the minority.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 6:53 AM on December 7, 2020 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Mincemeat pie. If you get a fresh one it's not all that bad.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:09 AM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: I grew up eating cow tongue, which really grosses some people out, though I think the objection is more to the idea than to the taste. My favorite way to eat it was sliced on saltines with mustard.

Also, in a recent Ask, sardines were brought up as something nobody likes, even with a suggestion that opening a can is "fighting dirty." That's another food I very much liked (I'm vegan now, so I now longer eat them) - mashed up with mustard and green onions on crackers.
posted by FencingGal at 7:20 AM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: Meringue cookies - although I see them for sale every year, no one I know likes them like I do. Most say they are too dry and/or chalky.
posted by soelo at 7:38 AM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: I don't know how common it is to struggle with any of these, but these are the things I personally had to acquire a taste for:

bell peppers
uncooked tomatoes
Parmesan cheese (I couldn't even have it on the table when I first encountered it as a child - too pungent)
alcoholic drinks (including beer and wine, not just spirits)

Things I have not yet managed to acquire a taste for, though maybe someday:

goat's cheese

Things I doubt I'll ever come to enjoy:

blue cheese
cottage cheese
tomato ketchup

And I think I'm coming around to uni, but it's not something that comes my way often enough to be sure. I had more of an issue with the texture than the taste, whereas everything listed above was a taste thing.

(Sardines are great though! Mashed on toast, or marinated in vinegar and eaten with bread and olive oil.)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 7:39 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Pineapple, anchovy and jalapeño pizza.

Eh? The first two, to be sure -- I like this combo so much (unlike anybody else) I call it Pizza Rash. But never anything too spicy; no jalapeños for me!

Durian. Like eating custard in an outhouse. I CAN eat it, now, but I'd still rather not.
posted by Rash at 8:32 AM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: Moxie - it's a soda with the flavor notes of a digestif. I like it a lot but I also like Malort and similar liqueurs. (It's not widely available outside of New England but the fancy liquor store in Texas carried it, so you might have a shot.)
posted by restless_nomad at 8:42 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Natto (fermented soybeans, looks like melted cheese, does NOT taste like cheese)

Marzipan. I used to hate it. Now I wont make raspberry scones without it.

Pickled herring in cream sauce. Very nice on brown bread for breakfast

Raw oysters. I like mine with a touch of cocktail sauce and horseradish
posted by ananci at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I really like this question, because I share my corona household/bubble with four young people: two of them have always been here, my daughter and her best friend. Two have grown up on bland industrial food, their boyfriends. We discuss taste a lot -- almost every day. The boyfriends are very much up to trying everything, that isn't the discussion. It's the introduction of a microwave and all the industrial products that go in it. And breakfast cereal. And cheap snacks. Also we are used to meat being more of an accent, though we aren't vegetarians at all, while the newcomers are used to meat and two or three.
So what we are discussing is that for some people, broccoli might be an acquired taste. But for others, it might be the cornflakes that are weird. It's not a big issue, but it is fun to explore.
I'm not sure how to contribute. I didn't drink coffee or eat anchovies till I was adult, and now they are some of my favorite things. We often had steak and kidney pie when I grew up, and I wasn't fond of it, and then I had it in a tea parlor in East London when I was in my twenties and it was amazing, but perhaps that's because my stepdad wasn't the best cook when it came to pies. Sort of the same goes for tofu. Until I had tofu in Kyoto, I didn't enjoy it much, there, it was amazing.
My stepdad had very strong opinions on us having a global taste. I'll have to ask him why. He was a traveling salesman, and brought home spices and products from every corner of the earth and forced us to try them. While there were many other things he didn't handle well, I'll be forever grateful for that.

(I have an allergy that means we have never been able to eat processed food in our family, so it's not because I am judgemental towards other choices, I just don't personally have that option. The best friend's family is also into garden to table cooking, including steady deliveries of game and seafood from their extended family, because they are country folks).
posted by mumimor at 9:08 AM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: Not necessarily things I had a problem with. Just observations...

• Pretty much all shellfish, raw oysters being the king of aversions in this group.
• Natto
• Uni (well...Any sushi for many people, I suppose.)
• Brussels sprouts
posted by Thorzdad at 9:27 AM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: Salty licorice--salmiakki in Finnish. Not sodium salt, but ammonia salt! Burns in the best way, may produce tears of joy.

Aquavit. Make shot glasses out of ice for extra entertainment.

Continuing the pickled fish theme, lutefisk! White fish pickled in lye. I have not tried to acquire a taste for this.

Tempeh can be divisive. Steaming it will reduce bitterness, and after that it's mildly sour and nutty.

Nutritional yeast is commonly used in vegan cooking and perplexing to many. I personally love it sprinkled over buttered toast, or buttered popcorn, or fried eggs, or buttered pasta. Add mushroom powder, chili flakes, and salt for a savory flavor sensation.
posted by esoterrica at 9:29 AM on December 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I’m SO SORRY that this had a whiff of “foreign food is weird,” I’m mortified at that connection.

These answers are so great, thank you. Some of my favorite things are listed here, and there are many things I’d like to get more deeply into (salted licorice, natto, pu-erh would be a bigger presence if I had a bigger budget right now). I’m probably the opposite of a super taster! But I’m a Super Taster, if you I know what I mean.

So excited by this description of Moxie soda, too, since I didn’t want to limit answers but I don’t drink alcohol and really miss the plethora of complex and not-sweet drinks that are more easily found in the alcoholic realm.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 10:28 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Roasted marrow bones.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:57 AM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: Oh if you like interesting sodas, weirdly enough Red Bull has the stuff. The cola is my favorite cola, period - it has a really interesting depth of flavor - and the bitter lemon is fascinating and not sweet. (Tonic is... tonic, and I am not a ginger beer fan so I'm not best-qualified to remark on those.) It's important to note that these are not energy drinks. Only the cola flavor has any caffeine and that's because kola nuts have caffeine.

I'm also a big fan of weird root beer variations but those are probably trickier to source unless you want to shop online.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:21 AM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: Root beer & that weird flavor Americans call "Grape". As an immigrant to the country I just cannot fathom why people like either of those flavors & it must totally be an acquired thing. I say this while eating vegemite on toast so suspect a lot of it is flavors you have as a kid you get used to.
posted by wwax at 11:22 AM on December 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Some people have been weirded out by banana butties (banana sandwiches) but they are, in fact delicious. I'm also in the pro marmite camp to my husband's horror, and I will willingly eat parma violets, and black pudding although probably not together. Otherwise I'm a kind of fussy, and fermented foods, offal and blue cheese are things I'm not really keen on.
posted by plonkee at 2:15 PM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: Grappa.
posted by vrakatar at 2:57 PM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: Oh! Also! Schweppes Bitter Lemon. Straight up, nothing else. Even though I’m a super taster and normally recoil from bitterness, I used to love it. The quinine was so medicinal tasting yet refreshing.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2020

kitten kaboodle, I would love that anise cookie recipe, thank you!

That is, if you're allowed to share it. I grew up with anise pizelles, and they were one of my fondest childhood treats.
posted by spinifex23 at 4:59 PM on December 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Doogh (also spelled dough) , a salted yogurt drink popular in Afghanistan and Iran. It’s kind of like salted lassi. I first had it in an Afghan restaurant and loved it—it’s refreshing and delicious.

Smoked olives.

If you eat meat, offal is an acquired taste. I grew up eating things like marrow, tripe, and chicken hearts, and I think they’re delicious when prepared well. There are other things I was introduced to as an adult, like beef tendon, tongue, kidneys, and sweetbreads. Serious Eats has a feature called The Nasty Bits that might be interesting reading for you.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:17 PM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I like toasted nori as a snack, which I guess is popular, but my family seems to find it weird.
posted by lgyre at 7:55 PM on December 7, 2020

Fernet branca. Birch syrup. Spruce beer. Riga Black Balsam. Thrills gum, a Canadian gum which tastes of soap. Ketchup and / or all dressed chips. Flipper pie. Using lard or bacon fat as you would butter on bread. Horse meat. Tiger tail ice cream (Licorice & orange). Organ meats. Smoked beer (the first time I had one I thought I was drinking a kielbasa). Some Indian pickles for the unitiated can be an experience. Asafoetida / hing. Anything in aspic. And for me, deviled eggs.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:31 PM on December 7, 2020

spinifex23, i actually have to type the recipe up (there are five different versions I have, mostly the same but with tiny differences here and there) and fix my father's atrocious spelling to make things clearer, so I will memail it to you as soon as I finish doing that!
posted by kitten kaboodle at 9:28 PM on December 7, 2020

CTRL-F "scrapple" not found? I love pastrami but it grosses out my sister (too pink.) Liverwurst.

Mincemeat, fruitcake, or Christmas pudding. Within that, candied citron-- if you don't like these, it's possibly the citron you object to, so don't make it with that. Eggnog, mulled wine.

Beans as a breakfast food. Tofu, any style. Choward's Violets and in general anything with a violet flavor. Salmiakki. In my case, fish and seafood.

For most people, they have to learn to drink and smoke. It is definitely a "why would anyone ever do this? oh wait, that's why" thing for most people I've talked to.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:09 PM on December 7, 2020

as recently as my early 20's, I couldn't handle bubbly water because of its weird taste. I remember traveling in Italy and making very sure I said "naturale! naturale!" every time I ordered a bottle of water, to make sure they didn't bring me the effervescent mineral water that seemed to be the default.

Now I rarely drink water that ISN'T fizzy, and you can pry my sodastream out of my cold dead hands. Frizzante forever! Not sure when the change came about.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:02 AM on December 8, 2020

I really enjoy Floral Gums from the UK. Some describe them as tasting like soap, but I think they're delightful.
posted by burntflowers at 12:23 PM on December 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Things I couldn't stand until I taught myself to like them: mushrooms, avocado, cilantro.

Root beer & that weird flavor Americans call "Grape".

Haha, that's based on Concord grape flavor, from vines native to the Eastern US. I'm not surprised it throws non-Americans for a loop. The major aromatic compound, Methyl anthranilate, is usually described as "foxy" or "musky", and that's what's used to flavor things like grape Jell-o and Kool-Aid.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:59 PM on December 8, 2020 [4 favorites]

posted by Frenchy67 at 7:28 PM on December 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

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