Do you remember when certain foods became available to you?

When I was a kid, call it 40 years ago, the amazing variety of food now available everywhere was…less available. For example, I remember when fresh coconuts started being sold in the grocery store. And when a specialty coffee shop opened selling imported coffee beans. And that arugula was just not around at all.

I’m speaking about the US here and I know experiences will differ, but curious to hear about other foods that are now commonplace but were once exotic to you.

Kumatoes from Mexico and Canada became available about three years ago. Before that, you could only buy a tomato that tasted like a tomato between late July and early October.

(The Kumato is a bruise-colored tomato that was cross-bred in northern Italy several years ago, and it is rich and flavorful year-round. The breeder sold North American rights to Mexico and Canada, but not to the U.S.)

I’m old enough to remember when a trip to Florida meant bringing home a bag of grapefruit.

It’s only been the past 25 years or so that fresh pineapple became common in stores around here.

Prior to 1970 (I was 10yrs old) we lived in a small boondock town where the food experiences were, shall we say, limited.

Moving to the big city, I got to try a hamburger, pizza, actual spaghetti bolognese (not out of a tin) real cheese, garlic and zucchinis.

It was heaven I tell ya.

I just noticed sushi in supermarkets about ten years ago.

When I was a kid, the only place to get Japanese food (well, the only place we went) was a place in Sacramento, about a (at the time) 3 hour drive.

A place called Fuji’s. Don’t know if its still there.

Even younger, back in Illinois, we had Pringle’s. We moved out west and they didn’t follow us till years later. I wondered what took them so long?

I didn’t know that such things existed. I’m intrigued. How do these rights work? What’s to stop someone from getting kumato seeds and planting them here?

Most recently, it’s fresh turmeric. Just two or so years ago, I had to go to Asian markets to find it; now my local grocery stores have it. I assume it has something to do with the turmeric health fad.

I remember when Krispy Kreme donuts became available to Los Angeles (actually, La Habra, OC, an utterly unremarkable place).

Not that I cared, because L.A. has always been filled with donuts of all types and qualities, and there was nothing particularly special about Krispy Kreme.

I still live in a place where there are no kumatoes. I have to survive on garden grown ones til they play out. And dream of next years.

I remember the first time I had pizza; we had to go to Little Italy to get it. And I remember when my parents took the family to Chinatown. The waiter kept bringing hot sizzling dishes until there was no more room on the table. All things that I’d never heard of before. These excursions were way back in the '50s.

And for what it’s worth, I remember the first time I saw a McDonald’s. I was in college.

A little while back I was talking w/ my wife and sister (ages 57-62) about fresh vegetables. Nothing unusual - just asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts. I was commenting that I really liked them now, but didn’t remember likeing them as a kid. I was reminded that we never had them as a kid. Partly because of what was available, and also partly what my mom was willing to haul home from the A&P each week - but other than iceberg lettuce and a carrot or 2, just about all of our veggies were frozen or canned. Don’t really remember when it changed, but really was a bit of a “Whoa!” moment as to how much something so basic had changed.

I remember the occasional TV dinners as a kid - where you had to peel back the foil. When we got our first microwave in the late 80s (I think), I thought microwave popcorn a marvel.

Fruits and vegetables are the first food items I think of. When I grew up in the 60’s & 70’s there wasn’t the variety and options in the produce department like we have now. Apples and oranges came in bags. You couldn’t pick out individual apples from 10 different varieties as you can now. You’d get a bag of small Red Delicious. I think the oranges my mom bought had seeds in them. I remember around Christmas the grocery store would get in a supply of huge individual Red Delicious apples and navel oranges. We’d get one of each in our stockings. I remember them being really good and flavorful. (You’d think we were living in a little house on the prairie!) Also, tangerines seemed to come out only during the Christmas season too. And they weren’t the amazing Clementines we get now. They were full of seeds. Most vegetables were bought canned. There wasn’t a variety of lettuces either. I only remember iceberg. If we wanted berries we’d have to pick raspberries at my grandma’s or find them in the woods. I don’t ever remember my mom buying any kind of a fresh berry. A fresh pineapple??? We wouldn’t have known what to do with one! When did it all change?..I think after I was married, so in the 80’s I’d say the produce department started to expand. I’m sure living in Minnesota was one of the reasons, we don’t have the growing season/climate so most things have to be shipped here and it was probably cost prohibitive at the time.

I know I’ve seen them somewhere, but I’ve never tried them. My usual local groceries don’t seem to carry them.

Keeping in mind that my parents were from Great Depression Era, dirt poor farming families, as a child in the 50’s and 60’s, the closest I got to “new” food was the occasional bag of Little Tavern hamburgers (boy were those a treat).

I did not encounter pizza, pasta other than spaghetti and Tex Mex until I unburdened myself from these people. I think the idea of Mexican food would have sent my Dad on a ballistic path to the whiskey bottle.

Needless to say my culinary tastes have evolved since then.

The first “new” food i remember as an adult was some Ethiopian dish at a restaurant my wife likes. Didn’t care for it much.

Coors beer was unavailable in the eastern US back in the 70s. You wouldn’t believe the lengths some people went to, to smuggle it in.

East Bound and Down, Baby! :smiley:

Down towards the Big City (Wilkes-Barre) was a farmers market near this grocery depot. It was a store but also a wholesale operation where box-cars were backed onto a siding right next to the building. They got everything; even stuff most people back then knew only from pictures in books. We couldn’t afford any of it but at least I got to see it.

The one thing we didn’t have until I was in High School and moved was a McDonalds. I saw the commercials and ads now and then but I am guessing it was 74 (after I was driving) that I actually saw and visited one for real. I wasn’t very impressed although it was cheap enough to feed my broke self there after a long day at school and a fast ride to work.

Until sometime in the 90s Asian food was 90% just Chinese food. Thai food was some California thing and Sushi was something only at a handful of Japanese restaurants. Now there is Thai, Korean and Japanese restaurants even in small towns.

Tropical fruits, when I was a kid, were something you could only buy in a big city fruit market and only in season. The only way I saw a mango or papaya was on the label of a fruit drink that was 90% sugar and flavored “Red”.

Growing up in the North of England forty odd years ago, in a small town with - shall we say - conservative tastes, anything foreign was looked on with great suspicion. For decades the only non-English cheese you could buy (if you could find it) was, of all things, Danish Blue. And the selection of English cheese didn’t go much beyond Cheddar. (But you could get in natural colour and dyed bright orange).

But the thing that really sticks in my mind as seeming amazingly exotic was yoghurt (yogurt in US?), specifically Ski fruit yoghurts. It was like a revelation when we were introduced to these.

And there is a follow-up: years later I remember seeing a very old photo of a horse drawn milk float, maybe in a poorer district of London, and being dumbfounded that the milkman was advertising yoghurt for sale. So it had been around for all those years* and we never knew??*