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New worlds of flavour

Eurest | Health and wellbeing |  13 March 2014

world food

I was five when my gran gave me a slice of apricot tart and I was not impressed in the slightest. I was used to her luscious apple version and used to beg for extra custard to get that perfect balance of tart and smooth sweetness. But apricot was different, unfamiliar — and instinctively I rejected it, wanting to hold onto habit and reluctant to broaden my horizons. 

Variety: we know it’s a good thing — and yet our tastes and prejudices get in the way. To a certain extent this is beyond our control because our taste partialities have evolutionary roots. We’re predisposed to like sweet foods, such as fruits, because they’re good sources of nutrients and energy. And ripe fruits are generally safe to eat and have a lot of vitamins as well as being naturally sweet. Bitter tastes, on the other hand, are common in plant toxins, so we are hardwired to detect and dislike them. 

In fact your taste preferences are pretty much shaped by the age of two — so what chance does variety stand? Studies suggest it takes between ten and fifteen exposures to a taste for it to become familiar and start becoming enjoyable (Bennington-Castro, 2013). 

What we need is resolution to overcome the barriers of evolution and habit; determination to seek out the new that can be both pleasurable and good for you. 

So make 2014 the year of experimentation. Open up new avenues of taste, explore foods with fresh eyes; be brave; be bold. There’s a whole world of flavour out there just waiting for you. 

It’s a challenge we’re seizing with gusto. To help you explore we’ll be offering a whole range of new, exciting taste sensations — as well as opportunities to swop a tried-and-tested ingredient that’s unnatural or unhealthy for a better, more nutritious alternative. 

New year, new worlds of flavour to conquer. Let’s do it.

Bennington-Castro, J (2013) ‘The psychology of hating food (and how we learn to love it)’, i09, 22 April 2013 [online], http://io9.com/the-psychology-of-hating-food-and-how-we-learn-to-love-476720251 (Accessed 31 December 2013).

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