3 Ways to Think Like a Healthy Eater Part 1 - How to acquire a new taste

When someone says that a certain food has an acquired taste do you immediately see through the charade and think acquired taste = gross? I know I do. I’ve heard that fermented fish is an acquired taste and I’m fairly sure I don’t want to acquire it.

But that’s the thing. Anyone can acquire a taste if they want to. If by some magic of fate I was whisked away to a foreign land and forced to work as a television personality making a living by sampling the culture’s prized collection of fermented fish live, on the air, a la I love Lucy in the vitameatavegamin episode, I could make it work.

Of course, if that ever did happen, I’d have bigger problems than what my lunch was going to be.

A quick google search brought me to the wikipedia definition:

An acquired taste often refers to an appreciation for a food or beverage that is unlikely to be enjoyed by a person who has not had substantial exposure to it, usually because of some unfamiliar aspect of the food.

I’ve actually done this twice in my life.

First with olives and then later with fish (not pickled though, for the first part of my life I didn’t like any kind of fish at all and that included shrimp, scallops, and salmon). I really, really wanted to like olives. More specifically, I wanted to be one of the cool kids who liked olives. I’m not talking about the black olives that you put on your fingers and everyone loves, I’m talking about the rich, bitter, stinging, kalamata olives.

I had a friend in high school who was a year older and way cooler than me. She’s was practically an adult and it was awesome. We had a mutual friend who worked at a local pizza place, the kind with a real brick oven, and their specialty was essentially a margherita pizza with lots of kalamata olives.

For me, in my sophomore-in-high-school mind, kalamata olives represented the pinnacle of sophistication. I vividly remember the first bite being so disgusting. I had never tasted anything so awful in my 15 years on earth. But it was important to me. I wanted to like them, and so I made the choice that I would like them. I ate as much of that pizza as a I could and I subsequently started asking my mom to buy the fancy olives at the grocery store.

And it worked, through making the choice to like something and getting “substantial exposure,” it wasn’t long at all until I started to legitimately enjoy the taste of olives.

And they’re still one of my favorite things (though I’m all about castelvetrano olives right now, they’re so sweet and tender).

There are points in all of our lives where having the skill to put mind over matter can be the difference between totally loving a new experience and trudging through it in misery. Whether you’re moving to a new city, starting a new workout plan, or trying to get used to new and strange foods, the same principles apply. If you decide that you want to enjoy it and you keep at it, getting that ‘substantial exposure’, you’ll end up teaching yourself to love it!

Mollie Williams