Have I mentioned before that my job doesn’t suck? I mean I am treated to amazing wines daily, travel to France and Spain and am always finding myself dining in some of the best restaurants, thanks to connections I have made or because of trade tastings or when suppliers take us out to eat and enjoy their wines….I mean dealing with the general public is not always easy, we are on our feet all day and hoisting 40 pound cases all day does take its toll but man o man the perks are pretty freaking cool…..there is just one problem, some of these treats make me throw up a little.
Being a part of the food and wine community means that you are often putting things that are, a bit out of the norm in your mouth and most of the time that is not only not an issue, but a pleasure however there are still some things that no matter how many times I try them, no matter how special and rare they are just seriously make me wretch….with time a few things have been moved from the “hate it” to “I can swallow it” arena and in the case of the once loathed snot rockets or oysters they shot up from “can’t even think about trying one” to “Oh my…I love them” so there has been some progress but….
There is this sense that if you don’t like something it is because you either haven’t tried it or you have unrefined taste, not a good thing when you are sitting across the table from people that look to you for your palate, it’s troublesome, sometimes uncomfortable and has on more than one occasion sent me walking quickly to the ladies room to expel the mouthful of inedible taste treats….embarrassing, but true. Most of the things that find their way to the back of my throat and flip that ol’ gag reflex switch are those with “questionable” textures, creamy, soft and gelatinous often means, gag, wretch and expel. Top that texture issue with really strong flavors like in the case of offal and I am so queased out that I might just be done eating for the rest of the day!
I have eaten blood sausage in Paris, snails in Normandy and baseball sized chunks of Foie Gras in Cadiz, I did survive it and have tried all of those things on many other occasions with little or no change in my aversion, it may make me appear unsophisticated on occasion but I’m doubting yacking on the table is going to do much for my sophistication level either. The older I get and the more entrenched in the world of wine the less I worry about it, I’m secure in my wine palate and have learned through many trips in really top notch restaurants how to dance around even the trickiest of menus, and on the rare chance that someone calls me out on my avoidance of certain foods I just say, “Hey you can have your caviar, guts and bugs. I’m fine with what I have here” seems to work well and the people that love those things are thrilled there is more for them.
There is one more palate nightmare for me, one other place that makes me feel like a turd for not only not liking them, but for actually gagging on them once in a while and that is over extracted California Chardonnay and Cabernet….I know, I know but there have been times when I am running through a mass of California Chardonnay and half way through I notice an extra umpf in my spitting….a little push if you will, then I get the goose bumps and the shiver and I know, “ I am about done with these”. It happens less with Cabernet but with the really gooey, super soft ones? Yup, “Think I’m gonna barf”.
So as it turns out, expensive and rare means nothing to my palate, I need structure, texture and balance, I don’t have a stunted palate….just a really picky one! Is it any wonder that I am a Champagne, Burgundy and Loire lover, all of which have pretty high acidity and very little by way of creamy. So there you have it folks, the confessions of a fancified French Wine Buyer that cannot gag down the “goo”.