my gustation is paradoxical: while i can shove down an indescribable mess of processed food and such weird combos of leftovers that i am affectionately referred to as the garbage mill by some people, i enjoy well-prepared, carefully selected dishes for their subtle flavors. although i love a spicy meal, i also enjoy basic vanilla wafers with barely a hint of taste most people like to call cardboard. i may not be very verbal about the different nuances in food and drink – although comparing myself to my sweetie's training as a sommelier, i may be up against an unreasonable comparison – but i do detect them if needed. therefore, i claim to have an easily ignorable, but reasonably sensitive palate.
the reason i have come to think about my palate in relation to others is my constant inability to find anything i like in the grocery store – and i am not a picky eater. my conclusion is that i am just wired a little different than the average finn.
national palates are probably a memory of days past now that people move effortlessly amongst world kitchens: tradition does not guide our choices and our preferences as it used to. i, personally, love almost every cuisine i've come across with the exception of chinese: armenian to ukrainian, japanese to thai, sri lankan to nepalese, jamaican to mexican – you name it. according to the hunch report on food preferences and political alliances, i belong to the liberal part of the food preference and political pole against conservatives – yeah... well... go figure... let's just hope the types of hunch will not be our foremost information providers in the future...
although the enjoyment of different kinds of foods comes down to beginning with an experimental character and continuing with an open mind that i believe many of my fellow finns to share, there are still many instances where the average national palate dominates. the foremost example are the choices we are being offered at stores when it comes to more complex, but still basic, food items. a quick peek at the dairy counter reveal that finns like strawberry, banana and blueberry. the sandwich counter informs us that we prefer the ham'n'cheese, tuna and, when racy, a mozzarella-basil combo when choosing a cold lunch. we like out pizzas with plenty of meat and perhaps an addition of fruit, like pineapple. a whole lot of nada that pleases me.
sometimes i wonder where my palate got twisted since i prefer the swedish selection of cactus and lingonberry with the addition of the german predominance of cherry. there is scientific research on the matter suggesting that the mother's dietary preferences affect the child's palate in infancy creating a preference for certain flavors: it seems my mother went through an experimental period with me since i am by far the most adventurous eater in the family... every time a new family of ready-made foods is launched, i eagerly check the store, hopeful for something new. but the ham+cheese and tuna always wait for me, ready to disappoint. to my biggest detriment, though, a proper vanilla pudding is difficult to find because strawberry takes over when shelf space limits. since i don't drive to large auto-markets in the 'burbs, the stores i frequent tend to have limited shelves...
my ultimate preference goes for the simplest. i have probably talked about my fondness for white foods here ad nauseam (have i? not sure...). it's not that i like white for the color or was twisted as in arranging my peas and carrots so they do not touch, but have noted that foods or dishes that are very pale in color are more often than not something i enjoy eating. most white foods share a subtlety and freshness that colorful dishes may not – overly simplified, of course. thus, i love all white cheese and fish, and one of my favorite dishes is pasta with olive oil, lemon juice and parmigiano shavings. i love plain, natural, unsweetened yogurt. i adore white melon, pears, jerusalem artichokes and fennel. as far as sweets go, i always choose vanilla over chocolate, want my panna cotta without fruit, my crème brûlée without caramel, choose chirpy sherbets like lemon and lime over berry flavors and always go for the coconut option – if it comes without chocolate coating.
therefore, part of the reason i love urban habitats is the abundance of small specialty stores. finding three amazing white food products around the corner, at sis.deli, has made my day to the extent that although i have wanted to tell you about them for quite some time, it's been impossible to get a picture. they're digested way too fast for photo opportunities. each and every one is worth trying if any of the ingredients strike a favorable chord in yer mouth.
first, you'll get a partial view of the most beautiful chocolate bar (munch munch): handmade white chocolate with dried strawberry and choco bits – not too many to ruin the experience, but incredibly beautiful. remarkably, the strawberry bits add a twang instead of sweetness to the chocolate. there aren't any additives to ruin the pleasure, either.
the second delicacy is a combo that was designed by a psychic with me in mind: a montezuma organic white chocolate bar with ginger and chilli. the warm sensation is amazingly soothing, but leaves your tongue tingling. for more.
third, a savoury treat i find incredibly versatile: amerigo crema di parmigiano reggiano cheese spread. i've used it as pasta sauce, in soups, as warm dip (with some added cream) and just spooned it in. it's made of only cheese, water, butter and salt and the richness is incomparable to many of the things referred to as cheesy spreads.
tray by artek.
by stuffing my stock(ing)s with these i'll have meself a very merry white xmas! do you find your palate eccentric or hard to please at general grocery stores in finland?