Saturday, October 16, 2010

Of Things That Do Not Taste Good to Me

I have a short list of foods I do not like. Note, this is a very short list, because I love food and pretty much like everything I encounter. I've been this way since I was a child, and the foods I can't abide have also remained the same since childhood.

I don't care for celery, thought I have tried. I think it's the only vegetable I've ever tried that I just don't like. I can't seem to do anything about it. My Mom always cooked with it, and I pretty much always ate it, but only because it was part of the dish and I didn't want to be insulting by picking through my food. Now, I never buy it, grow it, or cook with it. I just don't see a reason for it's existence.

I wish I could like shrimp, because everyone seems to enjoy it so much. Here again, I've tried, and I just can't seem to get the stuff down my hatch. It won't go. It's the texture, I'm pretty sure.

I like the idea of olives, but again, no luck. They don't appeal to me. I eat them if they happen to be in something, but it's pretty much the same story as celery. Sad, I know.

Then there's the class of things I call “hoi foods”. “Hoi” because the chewing thereof makes me go “hhhhhhooooiiiiiii”. These are mainly black licorice and caraway seed.

Caraway seed is probably the most offensive food on my list of Things Which I Do Not Care For. It assaults my senses so utterly that I shudder even at the thought of it. In fact, before I knew caraway by it's flavor only and didn't even know it was a spice, I thought that the flavor came from rye because I always tasted it in rye bread. Up until just recently, I thought I abhorred rye bread, until I learned that it is usually made with caraway seed added. I found that I can greatly enjoy a good rye loaf-- without the caraway.

I tell you all this, not to make myself look like even more of a weirdo, but rather in order to relate a story that I thought of tonight while I was cooking supper.

When I was little, my family used to, on very rare occasion, order pizza from a local restaurant. This pizza joint also happened to be a "playhouse theater", which was kinda like Chuck E. Cheese, but slightly more upscale and with live entertainment. And on the very rarest of occasions, we actually got to go there, which, of course, was our day-to-day childhood dream.

We loved this place because it was just so dang much fun, though I can only imagine now how my parents dreaded the money flying out of their wallets in every direction just by entering the building. But eventually, my enthusiasm for the place was dampened because of... their pizza.

There was just something strange about that pizza. I remember the first time I encountered it. I'm not sure how old I was, 6, 7, 8? I don't know. Maybe they had just changed their sauce, or something. We were having their pizza at home and I took a bite and, oh, I remember it so vividly... I gagged, I choked. I said something tasted funny. I think my parents took this somewhat seriously because I didn't usually complain about food. But no one else tasted anything amiss. But oh, it was gross to me. There was this completely repulsive flavor and I didn't know what it was. It was just awful. I couldn't describe it because I had never encountered such a horror before. I knew it had something to do with the sauce, and I tried so hard to articulate it. I think my parents eventually decided I was just being oversensitive or something. I remember being very upset because I liked pizza so much, but I just couldn't stand this stuff. From then on, I would ask where the pizza came from, and my little child's heart would sink just a little if I heard it was from that particular place. I would resign myself to being hungry, or choke down just enough to keep my tummy from grumbling too much.

So now, as an adult, I have finally identified what it was in that sauce that so repulsed me --See, Mom and Dad? I wasn't crazy!-- because it repulses me still to this day.

It was caraway.

Who puts caraway in pizza sauce?



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I read an article recently about cilantro. I don't know if it is the only herb in this category, but it is the classic love/hate food. You either love it or hate it, and there is no in-between.

    For a long time, people thought that the haters just had more discerning taste-buds: that the strong flavor of cilantro was just too much for them. The truth, it turns out, is just the opposite.

    Cilantro haters have a genetic inability to taste a certain compound in cilantro that lends it its distinctive flavor. Their taste-buds literally do not respond to it. No big deal, right? Except that there is this other compound in cilantro that is very bitter.

    It turns out that the one thing cilantro haters cannot taste masks the bitterness and gives cilantro the flavor that the lovers love.

    Perhaps caraway is like that: there's something in it that you either can or cannot taste. Either way, it means your special. So there.

  3. Ha! Maybe that's it! It's a chemical thing.

    I love cilantro, and feel sorry for the people who hate it. Maybe there's someone out there who feels sorry for my hatred of caraway...

  4. Katie, obviously, you watched way too many neurotic Woody Allen movies when you were growing up.

  5. Um, I don't think I've ever seen a Woody Allen movie... at least that I can think of. Sooo... no frame of reference here.

    Are you saying I'm neurotic?

  6. Holy Cow! What a memory you have. I mean, I am struggling to remember this pizza joint you so fondly remember. And identifying the spice twenty years later??? You know the flavor of that pizza twenty years later? Mind = boggled.

    And I already knew you had an incredible memory for random things.

  7. Yeah, now if only I could remember the important stuff...

    Do you not remember Huckleberry Junction?

    I eventually figured out that the flavor had to do with these little seeds, and I would pick them out of things like bagels and breads, and I even remember doing it with that pizza.

  8. I do remember HJ now that you have mined that part of my brain.

    I really wonder if the seed on the pizza wasn't fennel, which is more likely than caraway. ??

  9. Umm... it's possible (since I'm not a fan of fennel, either), but I still lean toward caraway...

  10. My two life-long hates are liver and lima beans. Couldn't stand them as a child, can't stand them now. Even the smell of liver makes me gag, and the flavour? Shudder...

    Other tastes have changed, in different directions. I used to loathe brussel sprouts as well, but now (because my kids love them) I've learned to like them, too. (My youngest also likes lima beans. I tried, but... ugh.)

    I used to love shrimp, but now I don't, and, like you, it's a texture thing. Though I like the flavour, I hate the feel of it sproinging between my teeth. (Several seafoods do the same thing, and I avoid them when I can for that reason.)

    Caraway? I loved it as a child (my German grandparents had a lot to do with that, I'm sure) but now I'm indifferent to it.

    I discovered cilantro and fennel as an adult, and love them both.

    Tastes are interesting.