Expanding Tastes

As a child, I hated seafood. Put anything fishy in front of me and I would gag, flail my arms about and fall out of my chair in my efforts to get away from the atrocity placed before me. To this day, the memory of my mother’s salmon cakes with undiluted Campbell’s Tomato Soup sauce fills me with dread. Frozen fishsticks were bearable, but they were always ruined by the accompanying frozen peas and plain rice.

In my teens, I discovered jumbo shrimp sautéed in butter and garlic and baby shrimp on a fresh French stick with bechamel sauce and swiss cheese under the broiler. At university I added tuna melts and the occasional white fish in cream sauce. Lobster also became tolerable but only in small doses.

I never gave up trying to like more, however. Periodically I’d sample something fishy (like calamari or caviar) and give it a thumbs up (calamari) or thumbs down (caviar). With any thumbs down, I’d wait a year or so and try it again.

In France, I found out that I like most fish and almost all seafood (it’s still a no for the caviar). The one thing I just could not do, however, was salmon. The fish oils in salmon would coat the inside of my mouth and stay there influencing the taste of everything else for days, despite repeated tooth-brushings and mouthwash rinses.

Imagine my trepidation, therefore, when Raul bought salmon steaks this past weekend. "Muy rico a la plancha," he promised me and Saturday night we plugged in the indoor grill and threw the salmon steaks on the sizzling hot surface. Immediately our small kitchen/living room filled with the most intense fish smell.

"Oh god!" I thought. "How the hell am I going to be able to eat this? I can barely breathe!"

So, did I eat it? Or did I gag up several euros’ worth of high quality salmon? Come back tomorrow to find out…

Someday Lessons:

  • Just because you don’t like something today, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever like it.
  • Nothing is absolute – stay open to change.

8 thoughts on “Expanding Tastes

  1. I can’t wait to find out!

    Isn’t it great when that happens? I hate it when the opposite occurs – you try something and really like it, so you try it again later, only to wonder how you could have liked it before!

  2. Sara says:

    I laughed about the salmon cakes with tomato soup. Rob makes them sometimes and I just can’t eat them. And I LOVE salmon. Something about the mix of salmon, potatoes and soup is just too gross for me. Ironically, the kids gobble them up – even picky Max. No accounting for taste…

  3. Rita says:


    Unlike our tastes in books, I can relate TOTALLY to your “fish” experience (especially the barely-tolerable fishsticks that were ALWAYS combined on the plate with a least-favorite side dish). It took me YEARS (and a taste for seafood pealla) to later switch my mind.

    The ONE fish I will NOT eat, however, no matter how it is prepared, is salmon! Like caviar (which I also detest) it has such a distinctive taste and smell – neither of which I care to go near.

    I’m a betting woman, and though I DO hope I’m wrong, I’m guessing that you, AT BEST, tolerated the salmon! I can’t wait to hear. Good luck!


  4. Writer Dad says:

    This is absolutely true. Our taste buds change every seven years or so. Other things are no different. Let life lead you. I’m a much different man in my thirties than I was in my twenties, and if I’m not a better guy in my forties, I have to think I’m doing something wrong.

  5. Alex Fayle says:

    @ Janet
    Glad I have you hooked! And I know what you mean – I used to eat raw onion in things all the time, now I bite into raw onion and I think “ugh”

    @ Sara
    I can’t believe that Rob has passed that horrid tradition on to his offspring. I’ll have to find out if the Urban Panther did the same…

    @ Rita
    Glad to hear we have the same food tastes. The only way I’ll caviar is when my allergies are bad and I have no sense of taste… See you tomorrow!

    @Writer Dad
    So taste buds are like allergies? Good to know. And I agree with you about the changes. I believe that every year of my life has gotten better – by the time I’m 80, I’ll be living in a state of perpetual nirvana.

  6. Okay, this is too funny. This morning I was thinking about foods I like and don’t like, and whether I would blog about it. Now I think I will go for it, and reference this story for childhood references. And thanks for bringing back not so pleasant food memories. *smile*

    And the Urban Panther, like her Sibling Rob, actually likes the salmon cakes and tomato soup!

  7. Alex Fayle says:

    @UP – you *like* those salmon cake thingies? And your children?

  8. writerchick says:

    Hi Alex,
    You are hilarious like your sister who happened to send me here. Annie here, how do you do? I had to laugh about the campbell tomato soup sauce (yuck!) and plain rice and frozen peas. One wonders if all parents go to the same school of how torture their children with mundane objects. I do admire though, that you are willing to give things a second go around, that seems smart and mature, perhaps I should consider it. But then, I’ve never been smart and mature.

    My guess is that you may have found that you enjoyed. Guess I will have to see.

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