I was cooking bacon (ummm…baaaacon!) and the smell as always was intoxicating. But I began to wonder what reaction does a person who’s never had bacon is? Do they savor the smell or find it unappetizing? At least with bacon, there must be some level of curiosity or temptation because there’s faux bacon (turkey, soy, etc.) for those don’t eat pork or other meats.
What about someone that’s never had a lemon. Would they pucker at the smell or is that something that’s learned from experience. I’ve seen videos of young children trying lemon for the first time and the majority of them pucker at the taste. In Hawaii, a popular snack is li hing mui, Chinese dried, preserved plum that is slightly sweet, very sour and very salty. Just writing about it here is making my mouth water. Is this a natural biological response or a Pavlovian one?
I’m pretty adventurous about trying different foods and find that few, if any foods I’ve eaten have a completely unique flavor profile and I (and I suspect most people) associate the flavor components with other flavor profiles they’re familiar with. There was a great commercial a few years ago where a Western couple are in Africa and are hesitant to try and once they try them, only to find they taste like (I think it was) BBQ chicken. Next seen has the African couple at a BBQ and hesitant to try BBQ only to comment that it tastes like the grubs they’re used to!
An anecdote: Growing up, my oldest niece was fooled by her mom and grandmother into not eating chocolate. They would tell her that chocolate was yucky and tasted like medicine. She must have been 4-5 years old before she ate her first piece of chocolate because her younger sister was so easily fooled!