Changing tastes

Oct 11th, 2012 | By | Category: Personal Columns

It is strange how taste changes.

The first memory of eating mustard was in 1969; a day out and the wrong sandwich was chosen from those wrapped in tin foil. Ham was visible from the outside, but a bite into the sandwich and there was the vilest possible taste. Now ham sandwiches without mustard taste bland and lacking the bite that a squeeze of Colman’s brings.

In former years at parish functions, the sweetest food would always be the first preference: meringues filled with fresh cream, chocolate tray bakes, anything with icing. Standing amidst a feast on Sunday afternoon, tuna sandwiches and a slab of fruit cake were chosen ahead of the multiplicity of sugary options

It’s not just food.

By the summer of 1976 I was 15 going on 16 and wasn’t averse to the odd pint.  Not really having acquired a taste for beer, I would drink a foul combination of lager and blackcurrant, a drink served in bars in the little town in Devon where we went for our holidays, a drink I had not seen before, and mercifully have not seen since.  By the time I was 17, the taste in drink had got even worse, I would drink vodka and lime cordial.

Upon reaching the age of 18, it was time to grow up – real ale became the only acceptable drink. Pubs would be chosen for the beers they served; drinking could only be in ‘free houses’, any establishment tied to a brewery was shunned.

By my mid-30s, a holiday pint in England made me wonder why I would ever have wished to drink warm, flat beer; even Guinness was something to be drunk only if it was chilled.

Being on the wrong side of 50, beer in France is drunk if it is Belgian, wine needs to be red and  full bodied.

Spending days away on a conference, there was the realisation that bottles of American lager are filled with gassy bubbles. Standing at the bar of a waterside pub, the selection of drinks available was not extensive. ‘A Jameson’s, please’.


‘No, thank you’.


‘Definitely not’.

Sitting down, the quarter-gill of whiskey does not do much more than cover the bottom of the tumbler, but each sip is to be savoured. One glass is sufficient; long gone are the days when whiskeys would have been drunk as chasers to pints of stout.

There is undoubtedly some scientific reason why taste changes in the way it does, but there is a prospect that, should I reach retirement, I will regard a nice cup of tea and a boiled egg with bread and butter as a veritable feast.




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  1. I can’t believe that you don’t already regard it as a feast!

  2. Our tastes have finally grown up Ian, nothing better than a ham sandwich, no butter but a good layer of mustard washed down with a pint of cider at room temperature !

  3. Can you think of anything you loved as a child that you still do? My favourite cookies as a boy were Oreos; still are … & I regard the ‘variations’ they have come up with such as double thick cream with loathing. And my preferred mustard as a child was American yellow mustard & still is …

  4. Cheese and Onion crisps !!

  5. Rice Krispies – with full cream milk and sugar. I could eat a bowlful and then another.

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