I remember meeting a friend and his then fiance in a whisky bar in London; specifically the wonderfully stocked Salt on the Edgware Road.
The fiance was making quite a commotion about this as she hated whisky. The promise of them doing good cocktails apparently alleviated the situation sufficiently for her to still join us. Anyway, I was inquiring into her prejudices. It turned out that my friend, a whisky fan, had been trying to introduce her to the whiskies he liked. Or rather had acquired a taste for; i.e. Springbank and Laphroig – anything that was really peaty.
Sensing that this might be the reason she was somewhat put off, I ordered her a Cardhu – a very mellow, soft, unpeated whisky reminiscent of brandy. She actually quite liked this and as I understand it has moved onto appreciating slightly peated whiskies like Aberlour and Macallan.
It’s sometimes quite easy to forget that connoisseurs have acquired tastes for things over time and probably started at the basic end of things themselves. I remember another friend that I met for a few drinks, we decided we were hungry and were debating where to have dinner. I suggested a local Indian, to which he initially refused, stating he “didn’t like curry”. This was intriguing, so I asked him why not. He responded that some other friends had taken him out for hist first curry and given him a Vindaloo, which he didn’t appreciate. A long explanation of his folly later and the promise of me paying if he didn’t like it, we were seated and enjoying poppadums and a pint. I ordered for him after inquiring a little more detail into his usual tastes – he likes lots of tomatoes and onions, so he ended up with a Rogon Josh (which I asked to me slightly dialed down on the heat) and he thoroughly enjoyed it – actually, he enjoyed it so much we went back on a fortnightly basis and he started to explore some of the rest of the menu.
So the moral of this story is two fold; unless it’s a base ingredient, chances are it is impossible to say that you like or dislike all of a cuisine or foodstuff (and are therefore potentially missing out)- and if you are going to introduce someone to something new, start simple and ease them into it, otherwise you may put them off for life!