Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Great Phrase

Let's start with the headline I saw on

How Do We Grow To Like The Foods We Once Hated?
Basically it's an article about food tastes and how they can be changed. Here's the first couple paragraphs:
Why do some of us like to slather hot sauce or sprinkle chili powder onto our food, while others can't stand burning sensations in our mouth?

It probably has to do with how much we've been socially pressured or taught to eat chili, according to Paul Rozin, a cultural psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied attitudes toward food for decades.
Rozin uses as examples how foods native to the western hemisphere, for example, became staples of Europeans who had never had them before.
And that flavor in Mexico is chili and it is on virtually every savory food they eat. Chili pepper, when it came to Europe, tasted so bad. So this terrible-tasting food comes over along with potatoes and tomatoes and all these other relatively good ones, and it becomes a major flavoring in the cuisines of West Africa, of South Asia and a good part of Southeast Asia. And it makes their food taste better to them.

So I got curious about how the hell that happened.
He then goes on to say that the change happens in the brain, not the tongue. The same information is still being sent, it is just received differently. We, as children, don't like many things that we come to learn to like- even truly enjoy- as we mature. So, unless one has a physical allergy to something, it is possible, it seems, to learn to like things that once might have turned us away in horror.

Of course some things don't change- I still don't like liver- and can only take olives in small amounts. Over the years I have come to enjoy many foods. Basically, you have to eat a lot of the foods before you become accustomed to them and enjoy them. Which brings me to the "money quote" that caught my attention:
I call it "benign masochism," which is to say that we learn to like things that our body rejects. And it's benign because it doesn't hurt us.
I love it: benign masochism.

And that's where I will leave it... and pass me more of that hot sauce.

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