Stephen Dubner on why “faking it” can lead to a new degree of pleasure:
When I first moved to New York, I found cilantro in a surprising number of restaurant dishes, especially in Indian restaurants. To me, it tasted very much like dish soap. … But, not wanting to appear a cilantro-hating (or Indian-food-hating) philistine, I powered through those dishes — yeah, I faked it — and came to not only like cilantro, but use it regularly in cooking.
Why? Acquired taste is an integral part of the cultivation of taste:
[A]cquired tastes can be rewarding. Acquired taste jump-starts new satisfactions where I do not initially find them. Through acquired taste, I grow in my capacity to enjoy what the world has to offer. The shiver down my spine at my first sampling of sushi was not one of delight. I was repelled by the cold slug of fish and the horseradish. Playing along, I smothered the second piece in soy sauce, grateful for the familiar saltiness. Soon, though, I was branching out from California rolls to unagi and uni, tuning into the freshness and subtle variations in flavor.
Friends and I are powering through a scotch regimen currently with varying degrees of success. Satisfying to know there is pleasure on the other side.