5 Commonly Disliked Foods and How To Make Them Taste Good

Jul 20, 2018 | Cooking Tips, Food and Culture

When I was a kid there were two things I hated above everything else. Carrots and Mushrooms. I learned to love carrots pretty quickly. Mushrooms, on the other hand, took me a very long time to learn to like. Everyone has things, be it from their childhood, or recent discoveries, that they don’t like. What I have discovered through my own journey and through the stories of other people is that turning a dislike into a like is more a matter of perspective than anything else.

The below list contains five commonly disliked foods. You may like some of the items on this list, or they may be on the list of things you hate. Every one of the below items has one main thing in common. They were all on my list of dislikes but I now love them. So, if I learned to love them, perhaps you could too.

Before I get into this I should answer one simple question. Why? Why should we try to learn to like foods that we don’t like? The answer is as simple as the question, we don’t know what we’re missing.

Eggplant 

Eggplant or aubergine for our British friends is an odd little item. It can sometimes be tough and rubbery, but it can also be mushy and slimy. If you were born into an Italian, Chinese, or Middle Eastern Family you probably grew up eating eggplant. If you didn’t you probably have an aversion to it.

Eggplant is not something I grew up eating. I had never had it until I was about 15 or 16 and to be honest it wasn’t my favourite thing in the world for a while after that. Eggplant on its own can have an odd texture and bitter flavour but if you learn to cook it properly, this all goes away and what you are left with is something truly magical.

The first thing you have to think about with eggplant is the bitterness. There are two main ways to get rid of this unpleasant flavour. The first way is to cook it out. This is generally done when you want a more creamy texture. To do this you either put a whole eggplant on a bbq or over a fire. Or cut it in half, drizzle it with olive oil salt and pepper and roast it, face up in the oven. Cook it until the insides pretty much liquify. If using the bbq method remove the eggplant from the grill after about 45 minutes to an hour, cut in half and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

The second technique is used for a firmer textured eggplant. If you were to make eggplant parm, for example, this is the technique you would use. Slice the eggplant into rounds about 1/4in to 1/2in thick. Take a sheet pan or cookie sheet and put down a layer of paper towel. Place the eggplant on the paper towel and season very generously with salt. Flip the eggplant and salt the other side. Cover with more paper towel and let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. After the set amount of time, rinse the eggplant under cold water, pat dry, and proceed to cook it however you would like.

This salting draws moisture out of the eggplant and removes a lot of the bitterness. Because so much moisture has been removed, the eggplant doesn’t go to mush when it’s cooked but holds it’s shape and texture.

Preparing eggplant in either of the above ways will yield flavours that you never thought possible from such an odd vegetable. You will find sweetness instead of bitterness. Silkiness instead of mushiness. And who knows, you may even enjoy it.

Mushrooms

For a very long time, I hate mushrooms. I hated them! It was more of a textural thing than flavour. I couldn’t stand to but the slimy, spongy little bastards in my mouth. It really has only been the last four years or so that I have started to enjoy and even love mushrooms. I do sometimes still have textural issues but more often than not I enjoy them.

How did I turn my hate and disdain for mushrooms in love and admiration?

When I was growing up we mostly had button mushrooms. Those little white jerks you see in the grocery store. My mom and I would forage for mushrooms but because I “hated” them I never really tried the ones we picked in the forest. What I realized later in life, was that I didn’t hate mushrooms, there are over 10000 species of mushrooms in North America alone, I couldn’t hate them all. What I hated were those little S.O.B.s from the grocery store. Those white little devils that taste of blandness, mustiness, regret, and horse shit.

I started branching out and trying different mushrooms. What I realized was that I really liked most of them. Some of the mushrooms I tried like lions mane for example was one of the best things I had ever eaten. Sauteed with a little butter, salt and pepper, it tasted just like a steak. Amazing!

For me, the secret to learning to like mushrooms was realizing that a mushroom is not just a mushroom. They all taste different, they all have different textures, and they are all better than those terrible little white things you get at the grocery store that are called mushrooms.

If you don’t like mushrooms, I suggest trying a variety you have never heard of before. Go to your local farmers market or Chinese Grocery Store and see what you’re missing. You will probably find one that you like and that will open the floodgates.

Olives

My experience with olives was similar to my experience with mushrooms. What I learned is that I don’t hate olives, I love olives. I hate shitty olives. Those little fisheye looking black olive rings you see on pizza or get out of a can, those are terrible. They taste bitter, salty, and awful.

I fell in love with olives when I had Bravo Spanish Olives from my local specialty grocery store. I liked them so much I sat down at ate almost the whole container. Remember, prior to this I hated olives. These didn’t taste like the olives I had tried before. These had actual flavour.

You probably can’t get the same kind of olive as I can but if you want to experiment with olives go to your local specialty grocery store and ask for some samples at the deli counter. They will be more than happy to oblige and your world will be blown open.

Once you discover what an olive can taste like, you will never go back to those little black rings again.

Brussels Sprouts

It’s hard to say whether I hated Brussels Sprouts because I actually hated them or because as a child tv and media told me I was supposed to. Whatever the reason I pretty much just refused to try them and on the rare occasion I did try them they had no seasoning, or butter, they were overcooked and pretty gross.

What I discovered as an adult is that when they are properly cooked, either roasted or boiled only to the point that they are tender, not mushy, they can be delicious.

Roasting Brussels Sprouts on high heat caramelizes the outside making them sweet and giving them a bit of crispness. All they need is olive oil, salt and pepper but if you wanted to add bacon and blue cheese to them you wouldn’t regret it.

Boiling them is fine as long as they aren’t overcooked. When boiling Brussels Sprouts there are two main things to remember.

Number 1. Don’t Cover Them. 

Just like any green vegetable, covering them will lead to discolouration. When green vegetables are cooking they release a gas that if captured will discolour them. This is easy to prevent by not putting a lid on the pot. This discolouration will occur from overcooking or adding acid to the cooking liquid as well. A little vinegar or lemon juice goes very well with Brussels Sprouts but wait until the very last second to add it.

Number 2. Don’t Over Cook Them. 

When cooking Brussels sprouts think of them as little potatoes. You want them to be fork tender, meaning a fork can easily be poked into them, but they should not be mushy or slimy. This is really important if you want to actually enjoy eating them.

If you are boiling them drain them, season them with salt and pepper, and add butter and lemon juice. This will make them even more delicious than the already naturally are.

Fish

Over the years I have nailed down three main reasons why people don’t like fish.

Number 1. It’s often overcooked.

Overcooked fish is disgusting. It has a weird texture, it’s dry, and it tastes terrible.

I live by the ocean. I have lived by the ocean for pretty much my whole life. Most of the people I know have also lived by the ocean for their entire lives. The majority of those people don’t like fish. It’s crazy to say, but a lot of people here hate fish. If you ask them why they will usually say it’s because how their mom used to cook it.

Fish, when cooked properly should be tender and moist. You should be able to break it up with your tongue, you shouldn’t have to chew it.

The thing that leads to overcooked fish is fear. People think that fish needs to be well done or they will get worms. Do you know how many people eat sushi every day and don’t get worms? If the salmon has a bit of translucency in the centre it isn’t going to hurt you. In fact, it is going to be even more delicious. Yes, you don’t want your fish to be raw most of the time, but overcooking will not make it any better.

Most fish cooks really quickly. A salmon fillet in a 400°f oven will take between 12-15 minutes depending on size. It will be even quicker if you sear it first. A pan-fried haddock fillet will only take 3-4 minutes per side.

Be much more afraid of overcooking your fish than undercooking it and you will be amazed at the difference in taste and texture.

Numer 2. It has a “fishy taste”

Most fish should never taste “fishy” If your fish smells fishy or tastes fishy it is old. It doesn’t mean it’s going to kill you, it’s just not as fresh as it could be. To avoid this I generally try not to buy fish from the grocery store. Whenever I do buy it there it is almost always old and smelly. I generally try to get it from small suppliers or from places I trust. Nothing will make you hate fish more than getting food poisoning from it.

By fish from fish stores. It will be fresh and they can always recommend delicious ways to prepare it.

Number 3. It has ‘bones”

Yup. It does. So does chicken, beef, pork, lamb, turkey, or any other animal. If you buy your fish at a fish store they will generally be happy to remove any bones.

 

I hope that this list inspires you to try at least one thing you don’t like. Because you rellly don’t know what you could be missing.

 

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