Ever notice how most of us can name some foods that we hated as children but now love as adults? My list includes fish of any kind, spinach, egg yolks (yep, I used to only eat the whites), and beef liver. My ex theorized that it's because kids' palates like simplicity, so they tend to shy away from food that has complex flavors.
Anyway, I know that most people are aware of this phenomenon. But I took this "palate evolution" further. How? Well...
I have always hated crustaceans, even as an adult. When I was a kid, the smell of prawns cooking in the kitchen would automatically make me ask the cook to fix me up a plate of hotdogs, because I refused to eat the damned "sugpo". When crab was served for dinner, I refused to eat unless I got served something else. Shrimp in veggie dishes? I picked them all out, one by one, and gave them to somebody else to eat.
Over the past several years, my I-hate-crustaceans attitude has slowly been softening.
First, my mom forced me to eat crab cakes at a Thai restaurant, and much to my surprise I loved it. I thought this didn't really mean I was a crab lover now, because the cakes and the dipping sauce were so laden with herbs and spices that one could hardly taste the crab.
But then one day a couple of years ago Bill received a shipment of clams, escargot, and Maine lobster from a friend of his back east. We had boiled lobster, completely plain except for some lemon and drawn butter. Again, much to my surprise, I loved it. Parts of it looked icky, but all of the meat was incredibly sweet and delicious.
This transformation accelerated after that. When Bill and I went to Yosemite, he had some Alaskan king crab at a restaurant and I stole some of it from his plate. Yum.
In short order I found myself getting excited because dungeness crab season had opened. We went up to San Francisco, parked our butts at a seafood restaurant at the Ferry Building, and had dungeness crab cakes and crab salad.
Then there's the spicy bbq shrimp at the wonderful little restaurant within walking distance from my place. The Poor House Bistro serves New Orleans food in a renovated Victorian. We've been going there since it opened. I used to order only jambalaya, fried catfish, and beignets, but one day I tasted some of the spicy bbq shrimp that Bill was so ga-ga over.
Oh. My. God.
It is out-of-this-world good! Very spicy, with a heat that builds up slowly in your mouth until your entire head is sweating. The heat is so gentle at first that it does not overwhelm the other flavors of the dish. The shrimp is sweet, and the sauce is smoky and complex. Yum, yum, and more yum! Now I'm addicted and I have this dish at least once a week.
So there you have it. I no longer hate crustaceans.
I wonder how my palate will evolve next.