Changing Tastes

once again I’ve stumbled across a fascinating article that inspired me to write. Let’s see how much I can add to this article.

The piece in question is http://www.modernforager.com/blog/2008/07/03/your-tastes-will-change/ from the good guys at modernforager.

The article mailny makes the point that tastes change. So you may have a fixed view of what you like now and think that’s what you’ve always liked and will always like in the future. Is that the truth or is it that all foods taste the same to you all the time. Take a gorgeous meal that you’ve just started. You’re starving and it’s tasting extra good. Maybe it’s christmas and all your favourite food is every. Well at the start of the meal it tast fantastic but what about half way through when you’re starting to get full. What about at the end when you’re feeling bloated and didn’t really want the last several mouthfuls but felt you had to finish your plate. Does the food really taste the same to you now as it did at first. I bet it doesn’t. That makes a clear point that food tastes different to us at different times for different reasons.

So the article suggests trying food more than once and, I’d like to add, in different ways. Just to see if there is a style of cooking that makes the food suitable for you.

How could this be? Well I can’t prove it yet but I feel the psychological concept of perception is most likely an important player in this. That and your brains ability to interpret the signals from the senses as it sees fit.

So what am I saying?
Well basically I’ve noticed that my brain is constantly adjusting the signals it receives. Most of the time it receives far too much information so it does the best with what it’s given but it will always lose something. It’s also always trying to find a balance that we’re happy with. So it has the ability to interpret the signals it receives rather than just relay them to us directly. It can turn the volume up or down on just about anything. That’s how amazing our bodies are.

What makes me say this?
Well any one who has either increased or decreased the amount of sugar in their tea or coffee, or made their fruit squash more or less dilute for the same reason of not having too much, will understand this. What happens as you increase the sugar or increase the concentration is that at first the taste gets stronger. But very quickly the two spoons of sugar tastes just like one spoon used to taste. So you now add three. Again it gets sweeter for a few days but then your taste adjusts.

I mention this because it’s clear cut. Everyone accepts that the drink should taste sweeter and also that in time it doesn’t taste as sweet as it should. So it’s clear that we our taste doesn’t reflect the actual amount of sugar in the drink, something in the middle is adjusting the flavour for some reason.

From a psychological perspective, it’s well known that our mind is able to ignore signals from the senses. It’s also possible to block the signal from a sense organ at any point along the chain of nerves running from it to the brain where the signal gets listened to So basically we rarely experience the exact flavour of any dish. Our brain always turns up the volume on some flavours and turns down others and interprets the dish and then lets us experience it.

This is the realisation I had a while back and thought, you know what? I wonder how much food I think I don’t like but maybe I’ve forgotten that I used to or maybe I haven’t given it a chance. What am I missing out on. When I gave these foods a chance I was patient. I didn’t always like them over night. It’s like meeting new people or sometimes old friends. We have to reignite the spark and realise what it is they have that we can click with. It takes time.

It also takes time for our senses to rewire and re-program themselves so that they can understand the subtelties of the new food. At first the food may taste bland. For me it’s because I was used to foods that screamed at me with flavour. Like a rock band. It meant I wasn’t ready for any quiet melodies and subtleties. Over time though my senses and brain became accustomed to experiencing both with equal intensity. It learnt when to emphasise the creaminess of a subtle carbonara dish and next night deal with the strong parma ham and pepperoni on a pizza.

That’s how I’d describe the changes your mind and body go through as you learnt to love different foods. I consider it a learning process and now enjoy the concept of teaching myself how to enjoy more and more foods so I’m always entertained.

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