Acquiring Taste (November 25, 2015)

Updated: November 25, 2015

Acquired taste – it’s something that you hear a lot, especially when it comes to food. Kids don’t eat raw oysters, or sushi. There may be some that do but they’re about as rare as an albino black cat. Coffee, wine, anchovies, haggis, bleu cheese.  All of these are common acquired tastes, a taste of which some never acquire.

Acquiring a taste is largely nature, and not nurture. Taking into account genetics, maturation, environment and a whole slew of other scientific processes, our tastes constantly change. Kids like sweet things and reject sour things. Adults gain a finer appreciation for the richness of food. Our tastes change throughout our lives.

As we sit down for feasts with those we consider “family,” a lot of this weekend is going to be about taste. And it’ll apply to the sports world as well. I’ll watch football, because it’s been a part of my life. And for the macro cross-section of America, that’s what you watch on Thanksgiving.

But I prefer basketball as my holiday sport of choice. Basketball has always been something that’s been a huge part of my family, largely college basketball. So getting to enjoy early season tournaments from exotic locales is a big part of my holiday weekend. And my girls have begun to acquire that taste as well.

There’s a small lesson in this thought of acquired taste. And it comes from the one group of people that irritate me the most – fans. Without going into too much detail, at a recent event a fan began complaining about the atmosphere. This fan felt it was too “one-sided” for a postseason event. The complaining began before the whole picture had unfolded.

By the time the “atmosphere” that was so “one-sided” had unfurled, the fan was privy to as unbiased an environment as humanly possible when one of the two teams on the floor is indeed the home team. The PA had provided the same introduction for both teams. I know this because I was the PA guy, who also happened to be simulcasting as a fill in for the visiting radio crew who was unable to attend due to a family emergency.

What was most incensing about the situation is said fan didn’t let the situation unfold before passing judgement. We’re all guilty of it, of passing judgement before the taste as fully been revealed. It’s just human nature to have a preconceived idea of what you’re going into. It’s the inherent protection reflex we have as mammals.

The lesson isn’t to be so pacifying of everything that what is bad can truly affect us. That does nothing but create a neutrally-colored atmosphere so sterile that the fun of whatever you’re experiencing, life, sports, food, drink, is sucked completely dry.  And it ultimately leads to the ease of the bad affecting our lives in irreversible ways.

The lesson is simply to appreciate everything for what it is.  We’re all going to be sitting down and eating a meal. For many of us it will be turkey.  A quick Google of “whole turkey recipes” yields 32.2 million results. That’s a lot of ways to prepare a turkey.

It also says that no two of us will be having the same recipe. Uniqueness is the ultimate message, I believe.  That uniqueness makes us uniquely American, but also uniquely different.  Hence acquired taste is an important piece to survival, at least an easy survival where we’re not constantly offended.

Every time an athlete is presented with a new coach, and coaches with a new crop of athletes, the tastes must be sampled. Every time we move to a new job, both the new employee and the employer must sample the new acquisition.

New house. New car. New neighbors. New significant other. The list goes on and on. Our lives are constantly changing.  And acquiring a taste, a true appreciation for what makes each situation a perfectly seasoned dish, makes your world change from the monotonously tinted beige of a cooked turkey to a vibrantly hued slaw of the fresh vegetable plate.

Yes, I’m hungry. Happy Thanksgiving!