First off Happy New Year to everyone. Secondly a very big very thank you to Shokutsu et al. for keeping things moving in my protracted absence. I’d change the blog to be called shokutsuosophy, but it doesnt quite have the same ring. Hope you’re ok with that 🙂
Unfortunately, without a good internet connection, im not able to post anything with pictures, but i wanted to discuss a topic that’s been on my mind recently. It’s about the evolution of taste. What does it mean for people who blog, and how does it shape how we view food?
Let’s start with the definition of evolution: “a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form”.
What im referring to is the natural propensity of taste to change over time. I feel this happens personally, as in to individuals, and it happens culturally as well. Today, i want to address the personal aspect.
Personally, i’ve noticed that my own tastes change and evolve quite often. The more repeated exposure i get to certain types of foods, and really, the more exposure to different tastes (in wine, coffee, food), the more what constitutes my “ideal taste” changes.
For example, let’s look at Pho. Most of us can remember our first bowl of this mysterious liquid – warm, soothing, filling, there’s something very primal and satisfying about a bowl of Pho. Whether or not it was a “good” expression, or a “bad” expression of Pho, we didnt care. It was a real aha kind of moment. If i could honestly remember my first bowl of Pho, and if i was to be completely objective, i would put money down that it would be something i passed off as mediocre to me these days. But i sure didnt feel that way at the time.
Now – literally thousands of bowls of Pho in, my tastes have changed. You can call it “evolution” if you want, but im not 100% certain it is based on the above definition. Better, after all, is a relative term. In some cases, people may view the change as a de-evolution.
I prefer clean simple expressions of broth. Deep and complex in flavour, the tastes dance across your tongue as you slurp a proportionate mix of beef, noodles, and soup. But that isnt the only thing i’ve learned to appreciate. The texture of the meat, the grain it is sliced on, the thickness, proportionate to the proper texture of the rice noodle – not gummy, not al dente, the temperature of the broth, the proper condiments, lacking in the overt sweetness of excessive MSG, the ability to balance the dish with a touch of acidity. This is the Pho i crave. Based on my experiences, this is what was the standard for quality in Vietnam.
What am i concerned with? Well, as i build a body of experiences, my criteria for how i evaluate a place changes. Pre-Vietnam, i had a different standard with which i measued Pho. In the ebbs and flows of dining experiences, what is important to me changes. As i learn more, discover more, and taste more, how i previously measured an establishment may change – and how i feel about a place, will also change. As i taste things i like better, my standard is bound to change with it.
What does this mean? Well, it means there’s almost a certain lifespan to information. What i wrote two years ago I may or may not agree with still. Experiences that were positive, i may no longer feel the same way. Just like experiences that were negative, I may feel differently, just because i measure them by a differing standard.
What i want to know is how should we manage this information? Let’s be honest, what we write impacts people’s business. Is leaving a snapshot in time, a set of experiences at a certain period, up on the internet in perpetuity fair? Should there be a lifespan to information – a “best before” date? Should, as readers, we keep the date of reviews in mind? I dont know what the right answer it, but it concerns me. I’d love to your thoughts on this, no matter your opinion. Thanks!
[Part two will address the idea of cultural evolution of food and taste. I’ll get to that later.]