Bitter (and Sour) –> Less Sweet?

I’ve noticed a change: I now like foods that are less sweet. I’ve learnt to drink coffee black, or at least without sugar, although this was a taste was acquired. Since Joe drinks black coffee, if we bought a cup of coffee to split; we omitted the sugar and cream to his preference. Last summer I finally acquired a taste for beer, since I was hanging out in bars watching World Cup. I never drank much beer in college, I didn’t like the bitter taste and smell. Since I was rarely looking to get drunk, I easily passed up on the beer.

When I buy bottled juices or drinks like Snapple, I usually dilute it with water to cut down the high fructose corn syrup.

We voluntarily eat bitter melon now, neither of us ate it when we were kids.

Like most Chinese, I’ve long preferred Chinatown bakery sponge cakes to Safeway or Costco sheet cakes which are overly sweet for birthday cake. I like dark chocolate with 62% cacao from Scharffenberger. I can’t eat Hershey’s chocolate anymore, not only is it overly sweet, but it tastes too waxy. Swiss milk chocolate is still good.

Joe and I also acquired the taste for straight plain yogurt. We served some to a visiting 7-year old boy with some granola: he didn’t like it because it was too sour. We forgot. Actually I usually mix in a bit of Marcella’s home-made jam.

On the flip side, when I visited my aunt in Minnesota: she served the typical yogurt-in-a-cup with the fruit mixed in. After not having had it for so long, I didn’t like the taste anymore. It was too sweet and the texture was funny (from all the stabilizers?) I made myself finish the purple goo, because I didn’t want it to go to waste.

Maybe it’s not that I like things less sweet, but manufacturers are making their products more sweet than they used to? Probably because they all use cheap, subsidized corn syrup.

It makes me wonder, is the change in preferring foods that are less sweet/ more bitter/ more sour just the maturation of one’s palate in physiological aging, along the lines of gaining a pot belly, not being able to see as well when driving, etc. Or does it reflect change in perspective and philosophy? Over time, you experience more worries and tribulations, pain and sorrow; life is less sweet. Hence your tastes change accordingly.

There’s a Chinese idiom ‘chi ku’ (Mandarin) which mean to suffer, or endure hardship. Literally it means ‘eat bitter’.

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