Sunday Night Dinner: Rambling About Acquired Tastes
At some point in the past 15 years there was a point in my life when i started to like olives, and another point sometime shortly thereafter when i realized that i like olives. As a child, like most children, there were things that i absolutely despised, and olives were chief amongst them. i can’t exactly be sure why i started to eat olives, or exactly why i started to like them, but at some point i did.
sunday saturday my wife and i drove up to Oakland to eat at a friend’s house where the theme quickly become “grown up tastes” (this was an unconcious decision, just like the olives).
It started innocuously enough while drinking a fantastic bottle of Larmandier Bernier Terre des Vertus Champagne and someone noted that at one point they didn’t “get” sparkling wine because of the CO2. this person, being a wine professional, had then taken steps to conciously try and understand sparkling wine. Sparkling chenin, Champagne, the bizarre sparklers from Movia were all employed in this service. At long last he understand sparkling wine, and was free to heap praise on what was in his glass.
i’ve been thinking the past few days about my own relationship with the concept of “taste.” At one point, not so long ago, i would have been the first to trumpet the notion of a purely subjective notion of taste, but perhaps i no longer believe that. Not that i believe in any nonsense of the objectivity of taste either, but rather something more fluid and contextual/cultural. Evolving, rather than fixed, and certainly worth reevaluating periodically rather than constantly defending. If someone can come to like something based on the idea that he should appreciate it, or if someone can reach an age where suddenly olives taste good, than maybe outside forces are at play (but enough about that).
Next up was a bottle of 2007 Catherine and Pierre Breton “Les Galichets” Bourgueil served with duck, polenta, and that parody of “finish your vegetables” scoldings, brussels sprouts. Both the wine and the sprouts were lacking in easy flavors, but were still loved by all. Interestingly looking back there was a hard time in even wondering why those things would have ever been unpleasant. Like the olives i can remember revulsion at the thought of brussels sprouts (and okra) but i can’t remember why. Unlike say, taste in literature or music, food seems so elemental that it should be fixed in time. Realizing that it isn’t is a rather liberating feeling.
To top it all off we finished with blue cheese ice cream and Sauternes. There is perhaps no other food (with a few excpetions like natto) that so fully encompasses the idea of having grown up tastes here in America than blue cheese. It is strong smelling, strong tasting, pungent, and has a hint of European elitism. The Sauternes, on the other hand, should be easy. But not for me. For whatever reason i still don’t understand botrysized wines. Sure they taste OK but there is something offputting about them that i can’t get past. The wines of Nicolas Joly, the botrysized Chateau Bongran wines, Sauternes all remain just on the periphery for me.
Maybe practice is all i need.