Why We Love Certain Foods And Flavours, And Hate Others

There are foods that we like, and others we dislike. Flavours we love, flavours we hate. Sweet. Sour. Salty. Bitter. And all other sophisticated flavours – like earthly, tropical tastes – in between.

A thick, tall stack of hotcakes. Satisfying the hunger deep within us | Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth.

A thick, tall stack of hotcakes. Satisfying the hunger deep within us | Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth.

I’m not a fan of sour foods. But my mum is. Whenever she’s back in Malaysia, she buys loads of sour lollies from the dried fruit-lolly shops there and asks me why I don’t want any. I don’t like tom-yum laksa or fish head curry either.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Asian food. It’s just the sour kinds I don’t like. We love certain foods and hate others because we’re used to eating certain foods and others very little. I don’t remember being served sour foods apart from oranges at home as a kid. I do remember my mum making me Maggi instant noodles for breakfast a lot, which is probably why I like instant noodles today.

And so memory can have something to do with our eating habits. Maybe we have good experiences with some foods, and bad with other foods. I remember little me getting stomachaches from drinking orange juice all the time; maybe my dislike for sour foods stemmed from there. Or maybe it has something to do with genetics since our food preferences are learned when we’re still fetus. Like me, my mum isn’t a huge fan of orange juice.

Then there’s the fact that at times culture and upbringing has nothing to do with our palate for certain foods. We’re all individuals. We all have our own personal tastes and preferences, and we taste things differently. It’s like how some of us like wearing certain outfits and some don’t. How some of us choose to follow vegan or paleo diets. How some Westerners don’t like glutinous Asian dessert because of their squishy texture.

Eating certain kinds of foods come with sexist stereotypes. Sweet foods are typically seen as more feminine and popular with the ladies, and savoury “man-food”. When I reach for a snack, it’s usually a savoury one. And I’m not exactly a girly-girl kind of girl…and not a tomboyish one either.

Side view of the hotcakes. Certainly a thick and deep stack.

Side view of the hotcakes. Certainly a thick and deep stack.

When it comes to comparing cuisines, Asian dishes taste flavourful while Western dishes bland in general. For some people, going from one flavour to the other (sometimes within seconds) is too adventurous for their palate. When I’m out and hungry, I tend to grab something non-Asian to eat, like a chicken sandwich or fries – mainly because it’s more convenient and cheaper in Melbourne. So maybe after all these years in Melbourne, my tastebuds are quite Westernised now.

Some of us get used to eating certain foods the more we eat them. But I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to eating sour foods. A few months ago at work I was feeling peckish after lunch and the only snacks around were red chewy gummy candies with sour syrup centres. Maybe they aren’t that sour. I popped one in my mouth, chewed and made a face. My colleague Asha looked at me and said, “Are you okay?” The lolly went down my throat without incident.

A few weeks later at the work Christmas party, I helped myself to a lemon meringue tart. As I was chewing, my colleague Mandy stared at me and commented flatly, with a lot of honesty, “Your eyes look like they are going to pop out of your head.”

I suppose I’ll never be the typical Asian who likes sour foods. And I’m fine with that.

Do you like sour foods? Do you dislike any foods?

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139 thoughts on “Why We Love Certain Foods And Flavours, And Hate Others

  1. “Eating certain kinds of foods come with sexist stereotypes. Sweet foods are typically seen as more feminine and popular with the ladies, “

    Well, ahem … we “real men” sometimes do like sweets (I’m saying this as I suck in my gut and extend my chest), but THEY HAVE TO BE BAD FOR YA … like having a plate of chocolate donuts and cigarettes for breakfast.
    : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • I LOVE doughnuts. And if anyone around me champions them for breakfast, man or woman, they have my full support! Bad food for the body, but they taste so good 😀

      Sugar and coloured food are so addictive…maybe it’s because of all the additives in them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think no matter how long I live in Taiwan, I think I will never be adventurous enough to try chou dou fu (stinky tofu). Everyone says it tastes great but I remember crossing the street when I first moved to Taipei just to avoid getting too up, close, and personal with the smell. However, I recently tried tofu and seaweed for the first time and really enjoyed both. I think I was never willing to try tofu until now because I associated it with stinky tofu.

    You are so right about Asian cuisine having such bold flavors and such fresh ingredients. My husband makes a Thai pork cold plate and there must be at least ten fresh herbs and ingredients in it. It takes a long to prepare when you compare it to a hamburger, for instance.

    I think I tend to gravitate towards sour food. I just love passion fruit. It is one of those fruits that taste sweet sour at the same time. Have you ever tried it?

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    • Good on you for trying tofu. There are many varieties of it (then there’s also beancurd…) and they don’t taste or smell the same. You should try tofu fried with eggs, or claypot tofu. They are my favourites.

      Sounds like your husband is quite a chef. Lucky you 😉 ” It takes a long to prepare when you compare it to a hamburger, for instance.” Have to agree there, unless it’s a gourmet hamburger with a gourmet patty! He’s like my mum, taking her time and putting all sorts of spices into her stir frys.

      I’ve tasted passion fruit in Malaysia, I didn’t really like it. Same goes for guava, which also has a sweet and sour taste. My tongue really doesn’t like anything sour, strangely.

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  3. Thank you for the post Mabel 🙂 I appreciate the vegan shout out! There are so many misconceptions about vegan food – (that it is bland and that we only eat lettuce leaves…) but being a vegan for 2 years now I can say there are so many delicious and nutritious things I can eat. It’s all in the flavour and the spices! I mainly eat Asian cuisine – tofu, noodles, anything and everything with coconut, tempeh, curries, rice, lentils, chickpeas, beans and lots of bean curd! I love Asian desserts because a lot of them don’t use dairy and therefore I still get to enjoy taro sticky buns and red bean bubble tea with soy milk if I desire 🙂 Have you ever eaten at Gong De Lin? It is a new vegan restaurant near Melbourne Central above Noodle Kingdom that primarily serves vegan Asian food and they have the most delicious dessert. Glutinous Rice Balls in Rose Water – omg! I highly recommend this restaurant if you are feeling adventurous and enjoy soft, sticky sweet treats!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for this great comment about vegan food! I am not vegan, but I can definitely see how healthy it is – less oil and less fats in your diet. Which is why I don’t mind eating vegan if my friends want to (Vegie Bar is one place I like). Doesn’t mean meat eaters like me don’t enjoy vegetarian dishes. Yes we do 🙂

      Good to hear you enjoy Asian food. It really is never a dull cuisine. So many varieties – egg noodles, wheat noodles, silken tofu, the rough kind, too many too name. I’ve actually never heard of Gong De Lin…I need to check that out, it sounds like a great place to eat. Thanks for the tip!

      By the way, Maureen below in the comments asked you a question about yoghurt. And Siobhan is a non-meat eater too. We’re all very nice here ^^’

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      • Thanks Mabel! Everybody is so lovely and respectful on your blog 🙂 it feels like a such a nice community where we can share all of our opinions and personal tastes. Your post has made me very hungry, especially when you said ‘silken tofu.’ I will be making that a part of my lunch or dinner today! Veggie Bar is wonderful! In fact so many restaurants on Brunswick Street offer so many vegan options. Madame K’s is probably my favourite and then Veggie Bar not far behind!

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        • A lot of Asian food like silken tofu is pretty expensive here compared to Western food such as leaves and bread. Always a treat when I get to eat good Asian food in Melbourne. For me, there are some foods I will always love no matter how long I have not eaten them, like popiah (Asian vegie roll).

          I hope you had tasty meals today!

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  4. Hi Mabel,

    What a delicious topic! Yes, certain foods are liked instinctively and the taste of some can never be developed, however hard we may try! At the same time, it is so difficult to give up certain foods we love.
    I also feel that some tastes are inherent, sweet tooth runs in families and if it does, all the members of a family savor sweet foods, irrespective of their gender. Whenever we come across a good dessert, my daughter always says, ‘next time we come to this place, we will order just dessert!’ Lol!

    Sour foods don’t attract me at all. I don’t like sushi though I have tried to develop its taste. Certain Mexican dishes, burgers and sea food, even the delicacies don’t seem appealing to my palate. Asian food is so rich and satiating that everybody starts liking it.
    Loved this post. Thanks for sharing!

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    • “it is so difficult to give up certain foods we love.” That is a great point. The foods we love are hard to give up because they provide us with a sense of comfort. Think chocolate. If I eat chocolate when I’m writing, I tend to be in a much happier mood. How funny.

      Our taste preferences runs in the family. Interesting. I never thought of that, but now that you mention it, it’s probably true. Your daughter is smart, ordering only dessert. Sometimes desserts actually come in massive portions and make you feel very full!

      Another person who doesn’t like sour food *high-five* Ah, sushi. I didn’t like it ten years ago. But like you, I’ve developed a taste for it. But sour foods…nah!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Growing up on a farm in Canada we had pigs and cattle. I don’t eat red meat. I think that it was just too much of it, eating it, being around it. As far as sweet and sour I like both but will admit that sweet is my preference.

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    • Australia has lovely red meat. It’s everywhere in the supermarkets here. But of course, there are other kinds here too. Too much of a certain food, we get sick of it. Perfectly understandable 🙂

      You’re the opposite of me, liking sweet. We’re opposites.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hmmmm. Hot cakes, I’m hungry now. I feel rather fortunate that I like Western and Asian foods. I don’t get that craving for a burger after I’ve eaten rice dishes like some expats do. Or vice versa 😉 I do, however, LOVE sour foods. I don’t think I’ve always liked sour foods though or maybe my tolerance has risen and now I enjoy them more.

    In any case, I like most foods with the exception of seafoods and animal organs. Both seem gross and I don’t care how much clever sauce you put on them, I find them repulsive. Fine, I said it. I do like fish though, but I’m picky in how it’s prepared.

    Now, I have to go EAT! I’m starving! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh dear. Craving for another cuisine even after eating a full meal. Didn’t know it was common among expats. But I suppose they miss the food in their countries.

      Ah, you love sour foods. Maybe you have some Asian gene that can tolerate the taste of sour, just like most of my family.

      I can’t comprehend eating animal organs as well, and I’m not one of those strong campaigning-animal-loving people. I like fish too but not shark-fin soup. Well, I used to love it until a few years ago I lost the taste for it.

      I hope you had a good meal 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have a weakness for fried chicken livers. They are hard to find here in Maryland, you have to go to one of Baltimore’s old-style markets that have numerous food stalls and street vendors.

      I simply love them. Add a splash of hot sauce and squeeze a lemon wedge over them, and I’ll happily devour them.

      Grilled chicken hearts like you find at the the yakitori shops in Japan are also very tasty.

      Liver is an acquired taste and I can understand those who don’t care for it, but I bet that you’d probably like hearts if someone fed them to you without telling you what they were.

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      • Chicken livers. Now I know what to make for you if you come over to my place for dinner!

        That is a great point you made there at the end. If someone fed us something and we liked it, then, well, we like it regardless of what it is.

        I suppose chicken liver and hearts are in the same group as chicken feet – either you like them or you don’t, or learn to like the taste. I’ve never tried chicken livers or hearts, but maybe someday. Don’t think they are sold in the poultry section of the supermarkets here.

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  7. Clever post. How we were brought up and the environment our cultures more than anything dictate our tastes, and with food I think more than ever. Countless stories of how I could not stand certain Chinese dishes because they consisted of tastes I never had truly experienced (and when experienced, were never to be taken that serious)…but when really able to enjoy them without a bias and with an open mind, I have been stunned to find out how I flipped 180 degrees and enjoyed flavors I had spend my life thinking I detested.

    Of course, I have seen the same with my Chinese friends who, for example, grew up never thinking to use cinnamon as freely as I do (to oatmeal, toast, coffee, pancakes and french toast I use it as much as possible). The Chinese generally use it is sauces for meats and truly dislike how I use the flavor/spice… At first I really could not believe it, but realize that the impact of how we see certain things are all a part of how we grow up. Not saying that it is all that clear-cut and easy, but I think the impact is quite large. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • When we are young, we are taught what is (generally) right and wrong by our parents. I think that train of thought can be applied to food and eating as well – what food is healthy, and what is not as given to us and cooked by our parents.

      I am actually one of those Chinese people who doesn’t use cinannamon like you do. In fact, I don’t remember it being a spice my family used in the kitchen; they used five-spiced powder for savoury dishes. When I was young my mum always told me cinnamon was used for cinnamon buns only, and I bought that. So imagine my surprise when someone brought cinnamon biscuits to class (kindergarten in Melbourne). I tried one and didn’t like it. But these days I like cinnamon. We’re more open to tastes these days when we put the past behind us 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Strangely enough, none of the food I grew up with is one of my favorite dishes. My favorite are thus far a couple of dishes from the Chinese cuisine. Two which my wife is able to prepare and two from a certain BBQ restuarant in Xi’an. THe usualy German and Finnish food on the other hand is pretty plain. Sure it is nice but I wouldnt call them my favorite dishes anymore.

    As a child I usually had cornflakes or bread for breakffast so I don’t really associate anything “positive” when I am eating those. Just on few occasions my parents prepared some more things in the morning, for example on Birthdays etc..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your tastebuds have traveled far and wide, Crazy. Your wife sounds like a very talented cook, you made a good catch there 😉 Maybe you really are used to eating flavour-and-spiced Asian dishes that you don’t find German and Finnish food that appealing anymore. Or maybe when we eat plain food, it seems like we’re eating to live…taking the kick out of the whole activity of eating.

      Breakfast really doesn’t have to be boring. If you add colourful foods like fruits to breakfast, that meal can grow on you. Special breakfast on birthdays? How lucky of you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah my mother always tried to do something special on my birthday 🙂

        Actually I am not into the really spicy food in China but they have some food with very rich flavors. For me it seems very often that the most spicy food is really really plain so the spice makes up for the non exisiting flavor…

        In Germany you got also many dishes with rich flavors but they are very heavy as well so you get filled up too quickly and I love to eat a lot :p

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        • Spicy flavours to make plain food tasty? Sounds about right. My mum always says food tastes not as good and second-best without chilli. But eating chilli all the time would get boring after a while wouldn’t it, because all you taste is hot and chilli.

          You don’t look like the kind who eats a lot, Crazy. Just saying 😛

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    • CCF I must say the Chinese variety of breakfast is much more interesting – there’s the congee, chow mien, long fried dough, dim sum, rice sheets with meat or shrimp inside; or the more westernised Cantonese breakfast of instant noodles with an egg, spam, fake abalone, chicken shreds, toast, sausages, friend chicken breast or light steak. Yum!

      Haha I grew up eating cornflakes too, wasn’t a huge fan of that either….and it was cold. Though I still have a box at home out of habit as a quick breakfast.

      Mabel what do you eat for breakfast?

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  9. Yum, those pancakes look mouthwatering. I grew up on very plain Anglo-Aussie food that many people would think of as bland, but I remember it being delicious because my mother was such a good cook. If you don’t have lots of flavourings you can really taste the basic ingredients – the meat and vegies, which at our place were always fresh & seasonal long before that became a thing. That said, we did use a lot of butter & cream & cheese to boost the deliciousness.

    These days I like spicy food, although not overpoweringly hot. I remember when I left home as a teenager to live in the city (back in the 1970s), eating all these new cuisines, like Lebanese, Mediterranean, Indian & Malaysian, for the first time and being blown away by the flavours. I love mezze plates and tapas where every mouthful is different. I like sour foods but bitter is the flavour I can’t grow to like. And I do like Asian sweets, especially red bean mochi with the sesame seed shell.

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    • You sure know how to appreciate plain and simple food, Maamej. A great point right there. Fresh food over flavours, and I agree. Fresh is best as it’s the healthier option. These days vegies are marketed as colourful foods to attract our attention, and I guess that’s one of the few positives to come out of commercialised marketing these days. I didn’t like vegies a lot before I came back to Melbourne.

      Asian food doesn’t have that much butter and cream. Maybe that’s why quite a number of Asians these days still aren’t into food that is dairy-laden.

      Sounds like you’ve tried almost all the foods in the world, and you weren’t put off by the strong flavours. Must have been very exciting gastronomic experiences for you. Sometimes I wonder how someone can eat the same dishes and cuisine for a long, long time without getting tired of them. Maybe they find comfort in routine eating habits and it’s food that will not upset the body.

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      • I guess people get very attached to food for cultural reasons, and if it tastes good, why not stick with it? I like variety though. I have always loved vegies, but I’m a bit less adventurous when it comes to meat. It also took me a while to get used to chilli, not having grown up with it.

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        • “If it tastes good, why not stick with it?” So true. I suppose liking a certain food that we’re not keen on eating, we need to force feed ourselves with that food. But there’s no guarantees… 😀

          Good that you love vegies. Australia has very tasty vegies, especially lettuce. I can’t get enough of that.

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  10. Hi Mabel

    Beautiful shots for the Photo Challenge, Depth. You are amazing to relate this topic with the Photo Challenge. Good one. You don’t like sour food? Any liking for Szechuan Hot & Sour soup or Balsamic Vinegar? You probably won’t like them if you aren’t into Sours. I like both the H&S Soup and Balsamic Vinegar (with Olive oil) as Dip for bread as well as a Salad dressing.

    Have a great weekend.

    Cheers
    Jess

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    • I really don’t like sour food, Jess 😦 My tastebuds have never liked szechuan actually. Vinegar? I really shy away from that – I gag at a drop of it on my tongue. However, I heard that sour foods are very food for you (that they warm up the body), so you are wise to eat sour foods and soups.

      It’s always a challenge to relate my posts to the photo challenge each week, or the other way round. Thank you, Jess. You have a good weekend too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m not sure where I fit in the food preferences..I just love food that is fresh and prepared well!
    My mother was the “good old aussie” that boiled the veges to sludge and lamb chops weren’t cooked unless they were charred to death! Having said that, her roast dinners and cakes (Victoria sponges) were to die for.
    Then my young husband introduced me to Malaysian , Singaporean, Indonesian and Japanese food. (NO I don’t like sushi!) Recently my daughter lived with me for 8 months and introduced me to vegan!
    Such yummy food, although I sometimes crave a flesh fix.
    My DD was recently in Melbourne and is ready to relocate because of the great choice of Vegan food.
    Rebecca Rossi! Have you tasted Alpine coconut yoghurt?? Very addictive

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    • Hi Maureen! Alpine Coconut Yoghurt is my favourite! I have it stocked in my fridge right now and eat it with blueberries and oats for breakfast every morning 🙂 just delicious!! Do you like Zebra Dream? So many different flavours of coconut ice cream – the salted caramel is delicious!

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    • Fresh is always best, have to agree with you there. There’s just something more appetising about fresh food, especially if you’ve grown them yourselves. I don’t know what it is. But it’s certainly food that is made with a lot of love.

      ““good old aussie” Love that phrase, and it sounds like your mum was quite a chef. No wonder you can’t fit into food preferences – you have taste so many kinds of food and love them all ^^’

      Don’t like sushi? Some of my friends who don’t like sushi don’t like it because they don’t like the taste of raw food or generally don’t like their main meals cold. Perfectly understandable.

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  12. I’m not a big fan of Rosemary garnish, roast pumpkin, roast parsnip and roast garlic quite probably because it took a year or two for my parents to succumb to my pleas of turning vego during my tween years. (During this time, I was forced to eat the Sunday roast). Basically, anything that isn’t meat, I eat. Except pineapple, particularly on pizza… what is with that? I can pass on dessert, but I have always loved Asian desserts. The ones I have consumed at Yum Cha are always far less rich and sugary than Western desserts.

    I think, perhaps more interestingly, that adapting to foods is an interesting phenomenon. In my case, I couldn’t eat hot food for years – and pretty much overnight I became a chilli fiend. I had the same phenomenon with coriander, mushrooms and olives. These are things I now cannot live without. I can hardly understand that drastic change in taste.

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    • Poor you, forced to eat meat when you didn’t want to 😦 It’s funny how some of us refuse to eat certain foods yet can’t accept someone else’s choice of diet (like no meat diet, paleo, gluten-free etc) and harass them about it. It really is bizarre and I can’t see the logic here.

      Pineapple on pizza is something that I personally like. Sweet toppings on a savoury plain bread base. I suppose this is a kind of food where you can taste a drastic change of taste. Sweet, salty, sweet, sweet, sweet, salty. That is what your tastebuds will tell you depending on how many pineapples are on top 😀

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  13. Another awesome thought provoking post Miss Mabel. 🙂 I’m not big on sour foods like sauerkraut, but I love me those sour gummy worms or sour lollies. Guess its the layer of sugar that rounds the flavours huh?! As a kid living in the country, we ate lamb a lot, I don’t eat it now, and brussels sprouts… Bleh. No deal on those either. I am like you, a savoury girl, I don’t care for that stereotypical gender thing at all. Feed me a slab of meat over a chocolate cake any day of the week. 🙂
    Also, I totes agree, Asian dishes are waaaaaay tastier than many Western dishes. Thank goodness for fusion cooking right! Hope you have had a great week and that your weekend is fun filled too. 🙂

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    • If I ever have a packet of sour lollies and you are around, I will happily palm them off to you! That layer of sweet sugar always tempts to me eat them…and then my face scrunches up!

      I love fusion cooking. Definitely adds much more flavours to many plain Western dishes and breads. And it makes cooking more fun in the kitchen! Though I must say fusion food is a bit hard on the wallet. But worth it if we want a different taste 🙂

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  14. I didn’t know Asians liked sour foods…. =) I thought it really depended on where you were from… I remember I was once travelling in China for the near Hunan province (I think). We ordered noodles, and I almost choked because it was so salty. I ordered it at another restaurant and it was also salty… i thought I had somehow insulted the waiter so they added extra soup. But no, it was because they just put incredible amounts of salt into their food…..!!! But for the record, I love some of the sour dried fruit – suan mei and all that =)

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    • I heard that the food in China can be very salty. I hope you managed to get a decent meal there. Maybe it was the seasoning you were not accustomed to, apart from the salt. A lot of Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants serve very salty food in Melbourne, not to mention with a lot of MSG that will leave you thirsty for water a couple of hours later. Maybe we love certain foods because the MSG makes us addicted to them…there’s another thought.

      Suan mei tang. My Chinese Malaysian relatives love that too. I really don’t understand the appeal, lol.

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  15. Sauerkraut is extreme sour. Could that be why it has that name? 😛 Anyway, as a kid, I even had a hard time smelling it while it cooked, let alone eating it. My parents loved the stuff so it was on the menu every once in a while, usually with pork. Yet, by the time I hit my 30s, I found that I loved Reuben sandwiches, which does require sauerkraut. Tastes change over the years.

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    • That is a good connection. Maybe that’s why sauerkraut is called that. Speaking of pork, I didn’t mind eating it as a kid, but as I got older my taste for it began to wane and today I don’t eat it unless I really have to. So yes, tastes change over time.

      Reuben sandwiches? I don’t think I’ve had that before. I just googled it and it looks massive…and delicious!

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  16. There you go with the noodles again. LOL. There is definitely something to acquired palates. These change also with climate and weather and health. Women crave the nutrients their developing child needs while pregnant.

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  17. Those hot cakes look super yummy! Ah, I love sour foods – actually I like all kind of flavors that you mentioned and I like spicy foods most! The spicier the better 😀
    Crazy as it sounds, there is snack in the Netherlands called Patat Oorlog which if being translated means French fries in war. This snack consists of fried potatoes with several kind of sauces: Indonesian satay peanut sauce, mayonnaise, sweet tomatoes sauce, curry sauce and on top raw onion. There you go, one food with all flavors! (the curry sauce here bit sour)

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    • Those hotcakes were very yummy and very filling. I couldn’t finish them – the dish is way bigger than it looks, and it cost $18.

      I googled Patat Oorlog. It is indeed french fries with very generous servings of sauces, both sweet and sour. Something for everyone. I like the sound of satay peanut sauce 🙂

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  18. Beautiful hot cake shot! I don’t like sour foods, but don’t mind to add a little balsamic vinegar. I’m picky about how garlic and onions are done, they have to be sauteed first. Btw, I have tried the Asian instant noodles as you recommended earlier. I really like it, but I only use 20% of the ingredients though.

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    • Thanks, Amy. That hotcake cost close to twenty dollars, massive portion and so expensive. But it tasted so good. Sauteed garlic and onions? That sounds very tasty and you sound like you have good taste.

      Wise to use 20% of the seasoning. Glad you enjoyed it. There’s a lot of instant noodles you can try. For me, the ones from the Asian shops taste the best 🙂

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      • I guess I like food that is not overpowered by seasoning and sauce. 🙂 I really enjoy the instant noodles you recommended. Thank you, Mabel! Have a great weekend!

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            • “Eating is a habit”. Funnily enough, that is sort of the topic for my post next week (Food February on my blog)! Food tends to be expensive here in Melbourne. Maybe a lot of us tend to eat cheap, bland food and so acquire such a bland palate.

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              • 🙂 I heard that cost of living is very expensive there. One blogger said that ordering stuff from English with shipping is like 15% to 20% cheaper than buying in Melbourne and Sydney. 😕

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                • It is true that the cost of living is hideously expensive here. It certainly is cheaper to by tech stuff online, including shipping costs. Food is very, very expensive here. For example, a medium McDonalds McChicken meal costs $9 at some outlets.

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  19. My partner who has German roots (he was born there), likes distinct sour sharp tastes. He makes up food dishes based on some staple recipes and puts in creative tastes. For instance, he makes some marinated tomato salads and salad dressings some of which have lemon juice, plain yogurt (which I enjoy now), balsamic vinegar, etc. He also like horseradish which I find too much plain gives me a sharp sudden headache (like also taking in wasabi too much). Can you imagine a horseradish soup ..a German dish?

    Then it’s strange when he can’t take too much spicy curry or chili dishes which I do prepare a few.

    Yes, a lot of Westerners don’t seem to like the gelatinous-like dishes. (My partner is not one of them.)

    For the first 35 years, I didn’t each much sweets. Now after exposure to my partner’s mother’s fine German gourmet baking (multi-layered tortes, interesting aged cookies, etc.) which is similar to French pastry baking, I do eat some sweets (unfortunately). Gotta watch that! You have to understand his mother (no longer alive) knew how to make puff pastry from scratch.

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    • It is odd that your partner can stomach sharp sour foods but not spicy dishes. Spicy flavours or spiciness has the capacity to make us sweat and make us feel like we’re (our tongue) burning, and I suppose each of us has a different tolerance level for “burning”. This deserves it’s own post altogether, and I hope to write about eating spicy at some point.

      Most certainly we have to watch the sweets we eat. Too much is not good for the waistline. Actually, same goes for other foods too – too much of anything can’t be that good for us. Food made from scratch is certainly food made with a lot of love, and usually tastes all the more sweeter. Your partner’s mother sounds like a very kind chef.

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      • She was an excellent cook –trained at a technical college in Germany on culinary arts. Asians in Asia with more money are now turning to more sweet gourmet desserts which is ok for special occasions.

        I should correctly say it’s more tart, not sour tastes he can tolerate. For instance, he can suck on a fresh cut lemon.

        My siblings actually have less tolerance for very spicy, curry/chili dishes compared to I. Traditional Cantonese cooking as you may know, is actually not as fiery in taste compared to other Chinese regional cuisines. It’s strength is the use of seafood and lighter hand /use of sauces.

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        • I find that many Asians in Asia are turning to sweetened bubble tea for every day drinks, snacks and treats, and gourmet Asian-inspired desserts like green tea or red bean ice-creams.

          Interesting to hear your siblings don’t tolerate spicy too well. It’s probably because of where they grew up and what they’ve been eating all these years in Canada.

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  20. Just a thought about the taste of spices: I’m always amazed at how much wasabi I can chow down on, but that just a hint of red pepper is too hot for me, but for friends it’s the opposite. Now of course I’m hungry for pancakes (not wasabi) after seeing your photos. Did you make that beautiful tasty-looking stack?

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    • I never imagined you were the kind to chow down on spices, Sandy. I wish I was that good of a cook and made those hotcakes. I had them for brunch at a cafe and they cost $18. I couldn’t finish it, they are much thicker than they look!

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  21. Very thoughtful post Mabel. And yummy photos too. I love sour foods – but only on certain days. I grew up eating Vietnamese noodles and spring rolls and there’s always the orange sour fish sauce that comes with it – I love it and pour it all over my Viet food. I agree it has a lot to do with our upbringing – perhaps parents ate a lot and influenced their children to eat it too. Like my dad – he’s a stinky tofu fan – which I also am. But it’s an acquired taste! Our taste buds also change with time. Like you say your palate has been westernised due to being in Melbourne, people’s tastes change with the countries they live in or travel to. While traveling in Spain I came to love jamon, all kinds – and crave it in HK although it’s more than double the price.
    I do think we will always revert to some childhood comfort foods though. If we ate congee as a child, you’d crave congee every now and then; for me, especially when I’m ill.

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    • I’ve tried the orange Vietnamese fish sauce once, not a fan of it. You can have my share if we have Vietnamese some day if that happens 😀

      “people’s tastes change with the countries they live in or travel to” An interesting thought, and one that I can’t help but agree with. If we see others in our group eating something, I think there’s an urge for us to try it too so as to not miss out – and probably that’s how we come to acquire new tastes.

      Growing up, I didn’t like the porridge my mum made – it was very lumpy, like the grains of rice weren’t boiled until soft. However, funnily enough, I love white congee with chicken and yau char kwai (or youtiao) on top and a dose of soya sauce. I would sneakily eat a bowl after school at the coffee shops near my school without my mum knowing!

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  22. I’m also not a big fan of sour foods, Mabel. . I agree – our tastebuds and palates are defined by what we are used to, and memories as well. Indians in general have a much higher tolerance for sugar… Our desserts are all extremely sweet and given that habit, I generally find North Asian/ South-East Asian desserts to be not sweet enough for my liking. I really liked the way your friend put it “Your eyes look like they are going to pop out of your head”. Hahaha. I can so imagine it!

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    • You sure love your sweet food, Kan. Sounds like you are the queen of sweet treats and you know which are the good ones 😉 I didn’t know Indians have a much higher tolerance for sugar. It must be in the genes. My body doesn’t have a high tolerance or liking for sweet things in the morning. If I do eat sweet fruit or sweet things for breakfast, I crash within the next hour. So it’s savoury foods most of the time for me.

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  23. That stack of hotcakes is a snack for you? No, I’m not judging, just curious… 😉

    I don’t know about sour food. I like sour from fruits, like apples, oranges and strawberries, but I don’t like those dried sour plums that (yes, stereotype) girls seem to love so much. One food that I absolutely HATE though, is raw onions. Nothing will make me un-hate raw onions..

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    • That whole stack of hotcakes was for me, for lunch. It cost $18 and it’s much bigger and thicker than it looks. Very fluffy too. I couldn’t finish it, such a shame. And I pushed that orange bit aside…

      Now that you mention it, it seems girls do like dried sour plums more. I don’t like it. Raw onions? I prefer to think of them as fresh onions. Very crispy and tangy 😀

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  24. YJ fails in the “Asians like sour foods” department, but I make up for that! I’ll eat and really savor anything sour! I like to try different flavors, though I love spicy food… My only issue is, as you mentioned, texture. Most things are fine, but YJ especially likes slimy stuff. He love Okinawan mozoku seaweed, which I find tolerable enough, but then he mixes it with raw egg, natto *and* really sweet kimchi. That’s way too much gooey and sticky texture for me. D:

    Someone was telling me that liking some foods is enzyme-relatedーif you have an enzyme you’ll “naturally” like foods like broccoli and brussel sprouts, while if you don’t it’s a lot harder to bear. Maybe that’s applicable for other foods too? ^^

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    • You like sour too! Maybe you and YJ will come out tops in a sour eating competition some day 😀 Now that you mention slimy food, I don’t think I’ve eaten that many slimy foods in my life. I don’t mind thick watery egg yok, but that Okinawan seaweed and raw egg mixture, I don’t know if I’ll try that :S

      Ooooh. Yes. I remember in chemistry class learning about food enzymes, so you might be on to something there. Probably explains why I don’t like the taste of brussel sprouts no matter how many times my parents fed me that when I was a kid. Ugh.

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  25. I love lemony flavoured foods and lemon lollies. But sour lollies are not my thing. The Dutch sour / salty licorice is awful, but there are some who love it. Tastes and preferences can change throughout life as well. I eat foods now that I never ate, nor ever thought I would eat, as a child

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    • Ah, lemony flavoured foods. Lemons are good for you, and in all honesty I don’t mind a bit of lemon in my food every now and then. I think it goes well with fish. I’ve never tried Dutch licorice before, but I have never developed a taste for the ones in Australia.

      But you are right. Our taste preference change over time, and sometimes we get influenced by our peers.

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  26. I think some tastes are acquired. Many kids don’t like eating a lot of things but when they grow up they start eating them.

    When I was a kid I didn’t like tomatoes, bell peppers, aubergines, onions and things like that. Now I eat everything except bell peppers (I really hate their taste, although they smell good when grilled) and raw onion (too crunchy and smelly).

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    • I think when kids grow up, they realise the world isn’t as scary as they thought it was and so they dare try more foods!

      You like vegies! But not raw onion. If we have a meal together, I will have your share of raw onions then 😉

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  27. “Sweet foods are typically seen as more feminine and popular with the ladies, and savoury “man-food”. Interesting – again, Mabel. You are a master of coming up with interesting topics.!
    The sentence quoted I think I have to ….say no….this doesn’t apply to most Swedes. The straightest way to a man’s heart is a tasty, sweet cake after the main dish. (At least this is so in my family and with my friends and relatives, and collegues…) Of course a savoury main dish is preferred, but what comes after…and there should be chocolate in it or on it as well. I wonder too – does anyone, anywhere know of anybody who DOES NOT love chocolate?

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  28. I have always had a more adventurous taste in food than my parents. I used to eat foods from different countries whereas my mum would only eat Thai food and my dad would only eat English. As I grew up, I introduced them both to Lebanese, Italian, Mexican etc.
    For me, however, my tastes have changed after having two children. I can no longer eat chilli (not even a mild Thai green curry!) and I used to take sugar in my coffee and now find it is too sweet. It’s funny to think about how tastes can change.

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    • It’s funny how our parents aren’t that adventurous when it comes to food compared to us. There’s always comfort in eating the same foods, I suppose. There must be both Thai and English foods in your household when you were growing up 🙂

      The body is very powerful and also very sensitive. Who knows, maybe one day you will get a taste for chilli again someday.

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  29. Very interesting and thought provoking Mabel. Personally I was terribly fussy as a child – made my mother serve me spaghetti with butter instead of tomato sauce and ate a tuna sandwich every single day for lunch. As I got old I got more adventurous. Asian food is right at the top of my love list, along with Mexican and Indian. I think it comes down to what you’re willing to try because most of the things I try I like. But don’t ask me to do things like insects or snake or brains or intestines – I’m very easily grossed out!!!

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    • Thank you, Tina. Spaghetti with butter. That is an interesting food combination indeed. You were different and you loved that back then!

      I think the more we grow older, the more open we become and maybe more willing to give new foods ago. But we sure do have our limits. Insects and monkey brains are some foods I will never touch!

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  30. Hmmm…Food for thought, food is such an integral part of life that we take it for granted, we rarely reflect back on a philosophical note…our choice of food and type of taste and preference varies and varies widely as mentioned based on our geography, the climate, the religion, the way we have grown up and the personality we have and it changes as we move to different places, meeting different people and try different things and sometimes just out compulsion…though many times out of exploration we keeping trying and getting hooked to different dishes at different places.

    Indeed a lovely post for – food for thought…

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    • Food is certainly food for thought, Nihar. That’s one reason why it’s Food February on my blog…all posts about food this month.

      You are right when you say we take food for granted – that is, we take the fact that we have food for granted. We focus a lot on the flavours and tastes of food. Sadly, that is the most important part of eating for many of us. Food is more than just about taste and being addicted to certain flavours. But sometimes we can’t help it – there are MSGs in some foods that encourage us to keep eating them.

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      • We can fall in love with food and romancing with food is not a new thing, people have done it for ages and yes the colour, the variety, the taste, the labour love in preparing the dishes all adds up to the manifestation of food just not for thought but the feeling in eating and engaging the spread of food…

        So tempting, pictures drives you to experience the real thing…
        😀

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        • What a beautiful comment, Nihar. I don’t know where you get all your words and phrases, amazing. So poetic. “romancing with food”. Our affair with food is certainly more than just a taste, more than just a one-off slow waltz. Sometimes the food we eat might linger in our mouth for days, and we’ll keep thinking about it and might go back for a second serve.

          And yes, if we can’t physically taste a certain dish for ourselves, food photos will do…

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          • It is the time of Valentines, romancing is something that comes with the thought of the emotion of love. Food is no exception and the definition of romance is beyond… food keeps you hooked and you keep looking for some wonderful array of dishes to quench your thirst and the engagement is not ephemeral…

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            • We need food to live, I guess that’s one reason why many of us choose to love food. And let’s face it, food is delicious. When we eat, our heart tends to beat faster and our bodies get warmer. When we’re in love with someone or something, our bodies have the same reaction too.

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              • We have such a close relationship with food that we many times take it for granted. Can we imagine a situation without food, though a day without food we can get crazy…we hate not getting the right food and when we have good food we cooled down…many live to eat food and many others eat food to live…

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                  • Yes, you are right…we are privileged and sometime we take it for granted. A reflection. There are millions of people who cannot have a square meal a day and for them having nutritious food is a dream…indeed it is a food for thought.

                    And we all should do our bit to support the less privileged section of our society…in fact it is should be our duty to do what is possible for us to do…
                    😀

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  31. Oh yeah my European friends here do not like Asian desserts, squishy as you say. I adore them.
    I have to admit I don’t like very dark bitter chocolate… and thats about it. You know I love eating 😛

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    • I always thought you liked dark bitter chocolate! Then again, I’ve never read or heard you mention about it in your blog posts, so it must be true then. I like dark chocolate, but if it becomes too bitter, I’d be quickly moving on to having something else to eat 🙂

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  32. your hotcake looks so good! growing up in the philippines, there are food catered to my taste that i can’t part with like the tamarind based soup which is on the sour side similar to tom-yum. and of course i love noodles from chinese influence. what a delicious post 🙂

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    • I ate that hotcake in a cafe. My cooking never looks that good, trust me. Tamarind based soup, I’ve heard of that. Not something I think I’d like, but I don’t mind trying it. Who knows, it might not taste all that similar to tom yum to me, even though you say it does 🙂

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  33. “Sour” reminded me of the many fruits we picked off the tree when we were children – green mango, siniguelas, guava, tamarind, etc. all tart, utterly tar. To mitigate the flavor, we dip the fruits in salt or soy sauce, or fish sauce. My mouth water just thinking about them.

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    • You really have a palate for sour, Imelda. Dipping sour fruit salt or soy sauce – I remember hearing that vaguely that people do it, but not sure if that’s something I want to try. I like salty-savoury foods, but add a dash of sour…not really anymore!

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  34. I am drooling over your pictures now… damn (forgive my language)… why do I have to look at this during tea time. hahahaha.
    Malaysia… nearby then. I love the sweet-sour dried fruits. I love them since I was a kid and still do, especially during CNY, I would asked my mom to buy it. For me, I’m not really into bitter-melon, but still ate it sometimes.

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    • Oh yes. Sweet and sour dried fruits, like dried prunes, mangoes, cranberries, they are very popular during the Chinese New Year. Always very popular with everyone. But I still prefer eating the prawn crackers served.

      I am sorry I made you drool over my food photos. I just like taking photos of food, that’s all 😀

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  35. The only food I dislike is parsnips. I don’t even like the smell of them when they are cooking. For a long time I had no idea why I did not like them or their smell. Then my mother told me that when she was pregnant with me, she had huge cravings for cooked parsnips all mashed up with butter on them. She ate them when ever she could get them. I guess I had my answer 🙂

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    • Parsnips. Now that is something I’ve rarely ever had and not something my parents cook for dinner. Now that is a good and clever reason why you don’t like parsnips. You were force-fed them even before you were born! But I suppose you still like butter today; butter is in so many foods these days.

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  36. Yes, I like butter but my mother only put a small knob of butter on the boiled parsnips when she had cravings for them. For a longtime I replaced butter with low fat spread, but the experts now say that butter is better for you. 🙂 I’ve heard all the agreements and am back to spreading butter on my toast.

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    • Yes, you are right. Research has shown butter may be better for us compared to margarine. I’ve always loved a bit of butter on my bread and toast. I’m sure we’ll enjoy breakfast together at some point, Hugh. My dad likes jam and butter on his toast together. I heard this is a bit of a British thing.

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  37. That would be lovely, Mabel. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should never be missed.

    Yes, butter and jam/marmalade on toast is very British. We got a whole host of flavours of jam over here as well. Far too many to mention, but my favourites are blackcurrant, and Lemon Curd. 🙂

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    • Ah, you and your lemon curd, Hugh. I won’t be surprised you’ll order it if we go out for tea together. A tad sour for my liking, though. But it’s popular with Australians, especially lemon curd tart.

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    • Good on you for liking spicy food if that’s what you like! Personally I don’t eat spicy food not because I don’t like the taste, but I’ve been medically advised not too.

      That is an interesting article you shared. Eating spicy foods correlates with our personalities. Certainly food for thought.

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  38. Yummy post! It’s an older one but I never read it. And good writing never goes out of style 😉 You’re so right Mabel that with time we can get used to certain foods. I didn’t used to like mushrooms but now I do. And we get introduced to foods through family and friends we hang around, which helps form part of our lifestyle. Now I’m hungry, hehe!

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