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As I was unpacking my suitcase yesterday I couldn’t help but smile at myself: I had somehow managed to pack three kilos of liquorice without noticing the sheer amount I had bought. I love liquorice and I must have picked up a lot more than I thought, so no wonder my bag was a few kilos over the limit and I am very grateful that I didn’t have to pay the extra weight.

But liquorice wasn’t the only food stored away in my luggage, I had pumpernickel (really dark rye bread), some German chocolate, marzipan and even some fruit tea and cappuccino. Maybe an odd combination but they are all things I love to eat but either can’t get here in Dublin or if I can at too high a price. And as I don’t go to Germany that often they are kept as special treats and savored.

While I was putting away my goodies I had to think about what people like to eat and how tastes are so very different. It starts at sugar in your tea and goes all the way up to Marmite, you either love it or hate it. I am not a big fan of Marmite and I don’t take sugar in any hot beverage but I use to, when I was small.

I think I must have been ten when I started drinking tea, weak, very milky and with a spoonful of sugar, now my tea is the builders kind, very strong, literately a drop or two of milk and no sugar. And some of my other tastes have changed too, I don’t gag anymore when I eat corn of the cob, I can take it or leave it but I will eat it, a bit like asparagus. I like red wine, which I didn’t for years and actually prefer it to white now. Natural yogurt is another one of those tastes that has grown on me over the years, I really love it now and don’t buy the flavored kind that often anymore. Dark chocolate has overtake the milk variation and who knew I like vodka, gin and sherry?

Other tastes have stayed the same. I still love all kind of cheese, the smellier the better, and ginger and cumin still makes me what to throw up, so I avoid them like the plague. I love red cabbage and nut ice-cream but aspic and chocolate ice-creme never passes my lips. And I really don’t mind just eating lots and lots of tomatoes and berries, but I will never be a vegetarian, I love my meat to much. But I am not a picky eater and will try most things at least once, unlike my niece who doesn’t even like it when her foods touch.

Funnily enough being a picky eater is something we seem to be born with. Children naturally love the sweetness of sugar and dislike bitter tastes like coffee. It may have to do with the fact that ripe fruit is sweet and filled with vitamins, yet poisonous berries or herbs are bitter in taste.  Our bodies crave fatty foods and that is why burgers and chips are so appealing to most. Interestingly enough most picky eaters will eat all kinds of carbs, as these are mainly tasteless or only have little flavour. And what few people realise is they dislike something not necessarily because of what it tastes like but what it feels like when it’s in their mouths. But you can learn to like things and studies have shown that it takes up to 15 attempts to persuade your taste-buds to accept the new flavours. Generally we don’t try that hard and just continue to dislike the unknown.

But for now I am happy with my liquorice luggage and can’t wait to treat myself to my favorite tastes every now and then. And while I do enjoy some brussels-sprouts and stinky cheese I think I will stick to cocktails and wine when I go out tonight.

Accounting for Taste