Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Food Epiphanies


Pierogi
 Share

Recommended Posts

My first taste of sushi...I was probably around 12 years old and just decided I wanted to try it. Our family had eaten Japanese food for several years, but nobody tried sushi. That daring leap into eating RAW fish...I can't say I remember it for the flavor but more for the little bit of fear/anticipation at the time.

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting comment earlier about ice cream, I imagine if people weren't exposed to ice cream (or chocolate!) at an early age, that would be the most vivid food memory,as it is, such things, luxurious as they are, and once rare are now commonplace.

For me, it was the first bowl of mussels I shared with my dad, on holiday. My mum looked on horrified, sure I was going to spit them out, I probably only said I wanted one because my dad was eating them, my mum didn't like them. But I loved them, and from then on, a big part of our holidays was me and my dad going for lunch having mussels, fried sardines, calamari etc, beer for him, coke for me (until I got older!).

I've love seafood to this day, and shellfish especially always feels like a treat.

No kids of my own but I hope I can get my niece and nephew (Who have fairly adventeruous palates) to join in the family adventure.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

For me, it was the first bowl of mussels I shared with my dad, on holiday.

...

Beat me to it, although I might have posted this in another thread. I was 7 years old, in a small town in Italy with my family. I got a heaping plate of mussels in a wonderful spicy sauce. The taste was amazing and only made better by my vegetable-hating brother ordering something on the advice of my father, which turned out to be cold green beans in olive oil.

I'm not sure it was an epiphany as much as a start of a process but my parents did not like olives and had warned me away from them - in spite of our otherwise diverse eating habits. I finally tried a green olive and thought, "This tastes disgusting. But what an interesting disgusting taste!" From there I moved on to black and all the great varieties.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had an epiphany about raw oysters about 12 years ago. I'm a Southern boy by birth and upbringing, so I've eaten fried oysters since my youth and later enjoyed them broiled. I had tried them raw many, many times over the years but never liked their flavor or texture.

Then I moved to Alaska.

I don't know if it was just a change in my tastes or if the provenance of the oysters made a difference but it was as if someone had thrown a switch. I didn't have to get used to them or develop a taste for them over time. They had suddenly become silky, simple, briny perfection on ice.

I haven't tried any Gulf or Atlantic oysters since then but I would be curious to see if they have the same effect on me now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A bite of biscuit with a dollop of "scumble" (soft butter mashed with sorghum molasses), fed to me by my grandpa while I was riding my tricycle around the breakfast table. I have been told that I was three at the time and while I have a lot of vivid memories of my childhood, that memory has always been sharp.

It must be said that I was never fed commercial baby food and I was "somewhat" indulged by doting grandparents, aunts, uncles and other members of my grandfather's extended family.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was my first meal at Hunan in San Francisco. I used to find my father's cooking often inedible due to an excess of pepper, and was terrified of the menu with all the pepper symbols throughout. But then, I took the first bite of one of the dishes--it was one of the pork dishes, and prepared Hunan hot--and suddenly I GOT what my father had been saying forever, that pepper properly used could wake up your tastebuds and make the taste of everything else in the dish more intense. I drank probably a couple of liters of water and tea, and my nose and eyes were streaming, but it was so very very good that I didn't care.

That opened a whole new world for me: today, I occasionally use habaneros in my cookies.

Not coincidentally, one of the saddest food memories I part two of that epiphany, also at Hunan, when I suggested that as the site for a bachelorette party. It turned out that only two of the 7 or 8 of us would eat hot food, so we ordered a bunch of dishes made not-hot. The not-hot dishes were so flat and depressing without their zing that I almost cried.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I finally tried a green olive and thought, "This tastes disgusting. But what an interesting disgusting taste!" From there I moved on to black and all the great varieties.

Love this, the quote and the kind of mindset it indicates. "What an interesting disgusting taste" pretty much sums up how I got to love all the so-called 'gross' food I love today: stinky blue cheese, bone marrow, natto, red fermented tofu, durian, anchovies, etc etc. The kind of things I remember chewing really ponderously as a kid, thinking "I don't like it, but I kinda like the way I don't like it..I think I'll have another one.."

The first time I tried sea urchin, raw scallop and oysters were also pretty revelatory moments for me..that sweet rush of pure ozone-y, oceanic musk..mmm.

Re the sea urchins, we were on holiday in Italy and I was about 9. The family we were staying with said we were having pasta for lunch and when it was put down in front of me, it was linguine with masses and masses of sea urchins, raw but slightly warmed, mixed through it. Maybe some parsley. I was dubious to say the least but gingerly tried a little, got that immediate rush of the ocean, and looooved it. Ate the rest in a hypnotic daze, all at sea, and wanted seconds straight after. Even my brother telling me later what part of the animal we'd actually been eating didn't faze me and I spent the rest of the trip bugging my parents for more sea urchin.

And good French butter. I had no butter-based opinions until I tried some of the excellent French butters like Lescure, Isigny at about age 15.. that first time, I instantly understood why people CARED about good butter, how you could really taste the sweetness and freshness. I had to be stopped from cutting it in half-inch slices and eating it like cheese.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And one I don't remember discovering myself, but a lot of other people do: beetroot.

When I was about 2, and my father stationed in Beijing, he co-hosted a diplomatic dinner of some sort, with many foreign heads of state. I somehow broke free of the nannies, got into the dining room, no doubt started chatting up some of the diners, one of whom fed me some of the beetroot from their dinner plate. Being a very ill-bred child, I then proceeded to go around the whole table, eating the beetroot off all the diners' plates to much uproarious laughter.

My parents still have a framed black and white Reuters photo of me, aged 2, sitting on the New Zealand Prime Minister's lap, my face stained vermilion with beetroot juice and looking very pleased with myself. :biggrin:

And I do still love beetroot!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And one I don't remember discovering myself, but a lot of other people do: beetroot.

When I was about 2, and my father stationed in Beijing, he co-hosted a diplomatic dinner of some sort, with many foreign heads of state. I somehow broke free of the nannies, got into the dining room, no doubt started chatting up some of the diners, one of whom fed me some of the beetroot from their dinner plate. Being a very ill-bred child, I then proceeded to go around the whole table, eating the beetroot off all the diners' plates to much uproarious laughter.

My parents still have a framed black and white Reuters photo of me, aged 2, sitting on the New Zealand Prime Minister's lap, my face stained vermilion with beetroot juice and looking very pleased with myself. :biggrin:

And I do still love beetroot!

You have a very colorful and rich childhood and life.

dcarch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And one I don't remember discovering myself, but a lot of other people do: beetroot.

When I was about 2, and my father stationed in Beijing, he co-hosted a diplomatic dinner of some sort, with many foreign heads of state. I somehow broke free of the nannies, got into the dining room, no doubt started chatting up some of the diners, one of whom fed me some of the beetroot from their dinner plate. Being a very ill-bred child, I then proceeded to go around the whole table, eating the beetroot off all the diners' plates to much uproarious laughter.

My parents still have a framed black and white Reuters photo of me, aged 2, sitting on the New Zealand Prime Minister's lap, my face stained vermilion with beetroot juice and looking very pleased with myself. :biggrin:

And I do still love beetroot!

You have a very colorful and rich childhood and life.

dcarch

My father was a Reuters foreign correspondent for a long time, so we moved around a lot - food epiphanies by the plenty. Anyhow, I make up for it by being a very boring adult! :wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I, too, was probably about three when I had my first food epiphany--a marshmallow peep. I still remember the lusciousness of the marshmallow and the crunch of the sugar between my teeth.

(Can't stand them now, but as a tot--nirvana.)

sparrowgrass
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pesto!

It was on a bit of crusty bread, direct from the blender I used to make my very first batch. A sunny Saturday afternoon in the little kitchen of my very first apartment. Oh my, how those flavors filled my mouth!

I revisit that memory each summer with the first basil of the season but that first time was such a revelation!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was 14 and my parents took me to Tommy Toy's in San Francisco for my communion gift. The coconut soup was the eye opener with puff pastry on top served in the shell. The whole meal was a wake up call for me since I grew up on Boboli pizza and my mom's...ummm...not so good vegetarian and healthy cuisine.

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Possibly, I loved all foods in the beginning, so I have to go back to the first food I remember eating.

It was about an inch of heavy cream, which my grandmother poured into a coffee cup for me. I must have been a tiny child, for I can see myself sitting on a window sill in her kitchen, dangling my feet in the air and spooning up the thick farm cream.

To this day, I love cream and butter: I wouldn't be happy living on a diet without dairy products, and no meal is perfect unless it contains something creamy.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've thought of other things ...

  • That first piece of good quality raw salmon, all buttery and everything else--made me realise raw fish was okay, was good, even
  • Top quality ham imported from Spain and Italy, a few slivers cost as much as a fast food meal on my student body ... but holy shit
  • The first time I had a vegetarian curry at an Indian restaurant: meals without meat could be interesting
  • Vegetables at Embrasse in Melbourne: the Indians (literally) introduced me to beans and such that existed beyond the supermarket 'green bean' I'd grown up on--Embrasse made all the other vegetables, from mini turnips to carrots to polenta-encrusted asparagus--exciting
  • duck confit
  • the first time I nailed the roast potato format (and, for that matter, mash--both when I got it at home and when I ate it in some nice restaurants)--suddenly that milky mash of my childhood and greasy, soggy roast potatoes just disappeared from my mental food dictionary and I 'got' these two humble preparations
  • steak tartare--I had visions of something really disgusting but what I ended up having was better than any cooked steak I'd had at that point
  • good quality meat in general: the first time I roasted a very good quality chicken, the first good quality steak I had in a restaurant, the first time I had horse, rabbit, duck, venison and many others

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BBQ in the towns of Lockhart and Luling Texas. It was the first time I had had top tier BBQ. I have lived in Texas a long time. Had lots of BBQ from all of the chain places around Dallas. But my first experience at the Meccas of Central Texas BBQ was a total eye opener on what BBQ was supposed to be.

A hamburger made from meat that had been ground a few minutes before it hit the hot cast iron pan.

Foie gras

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

-Unagi/eel: I remember thinking "it's duck from the sea"--the slippery, rich taste was simultaneously confusing and delightful

-Single malt scotch: Not really a food, but it was my first introduction to the complexities of liquor, and the idea that they have as much personality and character as wine...definitely revolutionized my thinking!

-Pan-seared anything: I took a culinary skills class in college and we seared seafood, poultry, steak, and vegetables...each dish was more delicious than the one before it, and I was enchanted by the simplicity of the preparation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like Simon S I recall clearly the moment I first ate and adored blue cheese. For me it was Roquefort, I was in my mid 20s and had been invited as a visiting Academic to act as external examiner at a university on the outskirts of Paris. The hospitality could not have been more different to that afforded to visitors at the establishment where I was employed in England; at best we might have served cheese at the end of the meal with a few grapes and some flexible celery.

I now learnt that lunch is an important part of the French routine (hence the need for at least a two hour break) cheese came before dessert and there was no dubious greenery in view, just fresh crusty bread. Proud of the tradition of cheese making in France my hosts were anxious that I should try many, especially those to which they sensed a personal link. I wouldn't say that I was phobic of cheese riddled with mould but my attempts to appreciate such delicacies had, in the past, resulted in me quickly eating anything to hand to rid the taste from my mouth.

This time the experience was quite different, I adored both flavour and texture of this cheese and from then on it became my absolute favourite. I've shared this experience with various friends over the years and have been assured that others have been through a similar taste evolution. Perhaps it comes from changes to our taste buds as we grow older?

As to some of the other epiphanies detailed here, there are some I understand fully (eg avocados) and others where to date I've tried and failed (oysters - I really have tried and all I can achieve is not vomiting - I've given up now as oysters are expensive here and I'd rather leave the pleasure to those who can appreciate them).

My closest friends were restauranteurs in France for 35 years and as a guest at their home I've had the good fortune to experience many excellent meals that I might not have found closer to home. Despite my faith in the excellence of the cuisine I have so far avoided tête de veau, tripes de caen and langue de boeuf. Perhaps these are food epiphanies to come and I need to set aside my irrational thoughts. I'm assured these were all dishes that would sell out at the restaurant.

Which would you try first?

Diana

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like Simon S I recall clearly the moment I first ate and adored blue cheese. For me it was Roquefort, I was in my mid 20s and had been invited as a visiting Academic to act as external examiner at a university on the outskirts of Paris. The hospitality could not have been more different to that afforded to visitors at the establishment where I was employed in England; at best we might have served cheese at the end of the meal with a few grapes and some flexible celery.

I now learnt that lunch is an important part of the French routine (hence the need for at least a two hour break) cheese came before dessert and there was no dubious greenery in view, just fresh crusty bread. Proud of the tradition of cheese making in France my hosts were anxious that I should try many, especially those to which they sensed a personal link. I wouldn't say that I was phobic of cheese riddled with mould but my attempts to appreciate such delicacies had, in the past, resulted in me quickly eating anything to hand to rid the taste from my mouth.

This time the experience was quite different, I adored both flavour and texture of this cheese and from then on it became my absolute favourite. I've shared this experience with various friends over the years and have been assured that others have been through a similar taste evolution. Perhaps it comes from changes to our taste buds as we grow older?

As to some of the other epiphanies detailed here, there are some I understand fully (eg avocados) and others where to date I've tried and failed (oysters - I really have tried and all I can achieve is not vomiting - I've given up now as oysters are expensive here and I'd rather leave the pleasure to those who can appreciate them).

My closest friends were restauranteurs in France for 35 years and as a guest at their home I've had the good fortune to experience many excellent meals that I might not have found closer to home. Despite my faith in the excellence of the cuisine I have so far avoided tête de veau, tripes de caen and langue de boeuf. Perhaps these are food epiphanies to come and I need to set aside my irrational thoughts. I'm assured these were all dishes that would sell out at the restaurant.

Which would you try first?

Diana

I'm certainly NOT Simon S, :wink: but I can recommend the beef tongue. Go to a good deli and try a tongue sandwich; it's delicious! Meaty, firm textured with a great chew. I haven't made it in years, being a singleton, and only cooking for myself, but it's GOOD! :smile: (On rye, with mustard if you like it.)

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ditto on trying tongue first as judiu mentions. Also agree with not prepping it yourself the first time. That way you can concentrate on texture and flavor and avoid flashbacks to its raw state.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Paneer pasanda. Common enough Indian restaurant in New York City. That particular mix of spices enraptures me.

White truffles. First eaten in a simple restaurant in San Gimignano overlooking the Tuscan Hills. Beautiful April afternoon. The smell brings the view back.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Must say, the only time I had beef tongue was at WD50 and while it wasn't unpleasant, it certainly wasn't an epiphany.

Still, one thing that certainly was an epiphany in the wider sense was the realisation that so many things I assumed would be horrible really weren't, and that it really doesn't require any special skills to be adventurous and enjoy more unusual foods. Sadly, I was well into adulthood when I realised that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Must say, the only time I had beef tongue was at WD50 and while it wasn't unpleasant, it certainly wasn't an epiphany.

Still, one thing that certainly was an epiphany in the wider sense was the realisation that so many things I assumed would be horrible really weren't, and that it really doesn't require any special skills to be adventurous and enjoy more unusual foods. Sadly, I was well into adulthood when I realised that.

Agreed Simon - beef tongue not an epiphany, but trying new things and expanding your horizons is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many thanks for the encouragement in respect of beef tongue. Perhaps next time I'm offered it I won't make an excuse to eat elsewhere - the opportunity is most likely to arise when I'm with friends in France.

My most recent visit was shared with the couple's 2 1/2 year old grandson and the four days were a series of food epiphanies for him and a joy to observe for his grandparents and I. At home both Paul's parents have very demanding jobs and so family meals are by necessity brief and based on convenience foods. We were warned that Paul would perhaps not like 'adult' food but in fact he relished curry, pot au feu, beef and carrots, a beautiful cream of courgette soup that is served as an entrée most evenings and veal liver lightly sautéed with a great deal of garlic. At every meal he adored eating grandad's homemade bread. Paul's parents couldn't believe the enthusiasm he had found for his food! We took stacks of photos and film clips to allow his parents to share in these epiphanies, albeit somewhat after the event. Sharing these experiences vicariously was pure joy. Perhaps Paul will follow in his grandfathers footsteps and become a restauranteur in time. He certainly shows promise!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

-Single malt scotch: Not really a food, but it was my first introduction to the complexities of liquor, and the idea that they have as much personality and character as wine...definitely revolutionized my thinking!

I could have...should have...written this.

Until about 8 years ago, I was not at all fond of whisk(e)y. I was bumbling wine fan, though, and I'd heard single malt aficionados use the same or similar terms to describe them. So, while dining at one of the nicer places in Anchorage, I naively asked for a glass of their best single malt. Fortunately (for my palate and and my wallet) they served me a begginer's malt, The Glenlivet 12. I was hooked.

Edited by PetersCreek (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...