Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fine Young Radishes: The Raw and The Cooked

This morning, Hubby was reading an article called Why Do Kids Hate Brussels Sprouts? The gist is that children are born with an aversion to bitter and sour foods, as part of a survival instinct. Most poisons would be bitter tasting, hence, an inexperienced child wouldn't be tempted to eat them. However, sweetness usually implies that something is safe to eat, so, children naturally prefer sweet flavors. Throughout your life, your tastes change. Babies are born with a lot of taste buds, not only on their tongues, but on the sides and roofs of their mouths as well. In time, they lose the extra buds, hence, making them less sensitive to certain foods. And as people get older, our sense of smell weakens. 75% of what we identify as being the flavor of a food actually comes from the scent of it. So, when your sense of smell isn't as keen as it once was, foods will not taste the same to you as they used to.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm sure that my own picky palate was formed both by nature AND nurture. I do not doubt that a teaspoon of malt vinegar would have practically killed me if I tasted it as a child! And I'm sure there are many things that I tried as a little girl that I honestly didn't like the taste of, due to having a more sensitive palate, but that I continued to shun for decades after I could have been able to tolerate them. My mother, who is without a doubt the pickiest eater I know, would NEVER have encouraged me to try something again, if I didn't like it the first time. And so, I had most of my food preferences cemented in my head while I was young, and I never thought to question it. This is why, upon reading the list of foods that I historically didn't like, one of my husband's friends asked him, "Did you marry a 4 year old?" :-/

This all brings me to another food I tried as a child, decided I hated, so I never ate one again. And they are some of the cutest varieties of produce I have ever seen!

My friend, the same one who tipped me off to broiling grapefruit, suggested that I should try this Sauteed Snap Peas with Scallions and Radishes. Once again, my mind was blown. It had never occurred to me that one could cook a radish! I remembered radishes as having an unsettling spiciness to them, and I was curious if cooking them would tame down their unpleasant flavor. And yep, it sure did! Cooking surely took the edge off of the radish flavor. I'm not gonna say I loved them, but they were totally ok. Mild, even. It made me wonder if I was just remembering incorrectly how spicy radishes are. Or maybe my tongue that can now happily deal with Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips was ready for the radish flavor.

Then, I tried a raw radish, sliced very thin. THERE was that unpleasant flavor I remembered! I wasn't a fan of it, but it didn't almost undo me, so I went crazy and ate a whole (small!) radish. Hoo boy! That was not my idea of fun!!!! I was back to making my gargoyle faces!!!

I'll try raw radishes again, but I think I'll keep them sliced thin (which is, after all, the way that most normal people eat them anyway!) for the time being! My husband tells me that he has had success eating thinly sliced radishes on top of some kinds of soft tacos. Maybe I'll investigate that for next week!

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