Does travel change your tastes?

Has a place ever changed your tastes, literally? One of the best parts of travel, in my opinion, is the culinary tourism. Before I go somewhere I usually make a list of the most celebrated dishes or drinks for that particular area. In addition to this, I usually tack on those things that appeal specifically to my tastes, and those things that might be considered a little more adventurous fare, like insects or snake blood in Thailand.

When it comes to dining, I’m pretty much open to anything. Even if I’ve preferred a particular palate over others, I’ve certainly enjoyed the food everywhere I’ve been, so it’s very rare that I try something on the road that I do not enjoy. However, I have had certain culinary prejudices before I’ve hit that road that have been changed after experiencing those things in a certain area. For example, I used to have a very strong dislike for beer. I would try to be casual when I was out with friends and drink whatever was offered to me, usually some watered-down cheap domestic special. I choked back enough of it to be social, but I could never understand the draw of it. However, that all changed on my first visit to Belgium. As usual, I read up on all of the great drinks and dishes out of Belgium, and there is no denying the country’s reputation for producing great brews. I’d had Kriek and Framboise before, but their sweetness leads one to think of them as a bit of an exception to a typical beer. I chose at random and wound up sampling Corsendonck first. I surprised myself by truly liking it. The same thing happened with each Belgian bottle I tried, from Chimay to Duvel to Leffe, and on and on. The strong dislike that I had had for beer was completely changed. It was easy, if expensive, to find these brands once I returned from my trip and throughout my travels in other places.

Have you ever disliked a certain dish, fruit, herb, or drink and found that your tastes had changed after experiencing it on the road?

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Posted by | Comments (10)  | October 25, 2010
Category: Food and Drink

10 Responses to “Does travel change your tastes?”

  1. Rod Says:

    I never really cared for hot spices on food growing up. After spending the better part of a year in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, I got addicted – for lack of a better word – to hot spices. Even 15 years later, I find that without a good dose of hot sauce on my food, it tastes bland.

    I also now only drink my coffee Egyptian style – with the grounds in the cup, allowing them to settle to the bottom. It makes for a much richer (and stronger!) coffee.

  2. D.Lux Says:

    I remember hating Guacamole when I first tried it in the States. Then I spent a few weeks in rural Mexico where my host mom felt it should be a staple on the dinner table at least twice a day. By the time I came back I couldn’t get enough of it!

    Also, I remember first trying red wine and thinking it was bitter, and unappealing.. one semester in Spain later and I was a regular Wine-o!

  3. Lauren Says:

    I was actually just having this conversation with my partner. We’re heading back for a visit to the East Coast from Australia, and it’s my first time home in 10 months and we were talking about all the food we miss. But he said I may no longer be into what I used to eat back home, because he discovered he had less of an appetite for things he used to be able to devour on his last visit. In Oz, portions are smaller, and because food is more expensive and I date a veggo, I eat far less meat than I did back home.

  4. Stacey Says:

    Interesting topic to think about. I immediately thought of foie gras. Mainly a vegetarian, I would have never touched liver pate in the States. But in a Strasbourg cafe, such a different story.

  5. Yai Says:

    I never liked avocados until I had them in Guatemala with lemon! Now I can’t get enough! Simple thing really, but changed the way I ate! 😉

    I have traveled many countries and I believe the spirit of the country can be found in it’s food. That is why I had ostrich and worms in Namibia and usually never worry much about eating street food…street food is wonderful! 😉

    If you really want to fully experience a country, you cannot tipi-toe your way into it’s belly!

  6. Aaron Says:

    If you don’t like olives, and a lot of people don’t, keep eating them. Morocco turned me into the world’s biggest olive fan. Just one or two at a time makes a very tasty snack.

  7. Eric Says:

    I had never had Delirium Tremens, or any Belgian style ales for that matter, before a trip to Brussels nearly 10 years ago. My friend and I went to one of the classier establishments (now a burned out building) that had a full 200 beer menu and decided we were only going to order beers with 10% alcohol or higher for the evening. After 4 or 5 each, we were asked never to play foosball at their establishment again but I don’t think I’ve ever been happier taking the first sip of a beer and thinking “this is like nothing I’ve ever had before.”

  8. Melody Says:

    Yes! I’ve just experienced this very question. While my travels didn’t take me as far as yours did, I also have noticed a new-found enjoyment of a greater variety of beers. When I headed to Seattle for a month recently, I was pretty much an “amber girl.” And I usually chose the same beer or three, if I went out or bought a six pack home or to a gathering. Now that I’ve returned from a place where people take their beer seriously, I’ve brought my expanded palette with me – I’m trying new things almost every time I go out. And while I’ve definitely chosen poorly on occasion, I’d much rather have this variety than the same ole same ole from before.

    Thanks! – Fun post…

  9. Colleen Wilde Says:

    I’m glad everyone really got into this post! I appreciate you all sharing your experiences. 🙂