Friday, April 04, 2008

An Educated Palate

It’s finally happened. I’ve become a coffee snob.

For a long time, I’ve avoided the worst of coffee: gas station sludge, office coffee and junk food java. But, beyond that, I was happy with most whole bean coffee, freshly ground and brewed in my French press.

Lately I’ve been very particular about my beans — to the point where I’ve tossed a couple of half-full bags because they didn’t measure up. Actually, they ended up in the compost pile; the worms aren’t picky.

It made me laugh when I realized it. I’ve gone the same route with wine and food. There was a day when a bottle of white zinfandel and store-bought spaghetti sauce was just fine. I’m not at the apex of food and wine appreciation, but I’m getting closer.

My palate seems to prefer big flavors: intense red wines, bold coffees and rich spices. I sometimes worry that I’m bludgeoning my taste buds. My cooking is not for the weak of heart—or anyone that doesn’t like garlic.

Although I definitely have my preferences, I enjoy tasting all sorts of things. Even if I don’t care for it, I want to know how it tastes. I think your palate needs to be stretched and exercised, just like your body and mind.

The artificial flavor of over-processed food and wine is what I really object to these days. I have a low tolerance for things that taste like they came from a factory. Not that I don’t get tempted by junk food and the like...I do.

But when I indulge, it’s never as good as I imagined. My memories of some old favorites don’t match the reality.

I’m experiencing the same thing with some inexpensive wines I used to like just fine. When I revisit them, I find myself wondering if there is something else I could open.

Although I’m aware that some people go through life liking the exact same things they’ve always liked, I’m glad my tastes have evolved over the years. I'm glad Captain Morgan and Coke isn’t my favorite drink anymore.

It does make life a little more expensive sometimes. I used to buy a bargain brand coffee that was (I thought) really good. This morning I ground up the rest of the bag and tossed it out for the worms.

I guess that’s what I get for educating my palate.


el jefe said...

hi John - Welcome to the club! I used to love Big Macs as a kid, but no more. At least I still have bacon. And while the local roaster does a pretty decent job, I still have my beans shipped to me...

John said...

Say it ain't so, Jeff!

I'm resisting airlifted beans, but I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out.