Taste Preferences – are they Learned, Genetic, Both or NEITHER?

Posted By on October 27, 2011

Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated by taste preferences.   I often ponder how things that I find simply delightful are disgusting to someone else?  Why doesn’t everyone love black olives and jalapeno peppers?

Is it genetic?  Is it learned?  BOTH?  NEITHER?

I have always hypothesized that a lot of it was learned.  If you are exposed to many different foods as a child, it is likely that you will have a more varied  range of DELIGHTS than if you only had meat and potatoes at your family dinner table!  

There are FIVE children in my son and DIL’s family and they are a prime example  of why I am confused about learned taste preferences.  My DIL is Italian and she is a great cook.  They sit down at a family dinner table every night with gourmet delights and a variety of foods – lots of variety – and always fresh ingredients – including  all kinds of FRESH VEGGIES and esoteric ingredients.  They eat meat, sea food…….EVERYTHING.

They even eat what could be labeled as STRANGE THINGS at the FAIR – like deep fried frog legs and chocolate covered bacon……..but NOT ALL OF THEM are adventurous like this.  I would say that out of the five grandangels pictured below that there is at least one who eats ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING and one who barely eats anything……the other three have a variety of taste preferences.    I am thinking that it  can’t merely be learned.  And it can’t be all genetic either…….isn’t this fascinating (or is it just me???)



My Daddy has a wide variety of tastes and even eats salmon (which in my opinion is too odiferous to enjoy.)  It actually makes me shudder (and a lot of you are going to be bewildered to hear that something that YOU LIKE SO MUCH is not enjoyed by MOI!)

Daddy shops for healthy things and eats in what I call the DR. OZ STYLE……    This wonderful role model for healthy eating (Daddy) also eats SYRUP on his cottage cheese…….     I eat jalapeno peppers on my cottage cheese.  LOLL



My Daddy also puts his whole entire breakfast into one bowl……he invented BREAKFAST IN  BOWL!  I put my breakfast into one glass!  I have raw oatmeal, cereal, yogurt and a little orange juice in a clear glass so that I can enjoy the LOOK of the beautiful layers.

Did I learn my taste preferences from Daddy?


(Yes, I named it after I just made it up!)

This is what I had for lunch.  I sauteed fresh spinach in olive oil.  I tossed in 8 fresh from the shell peanuts for protein (I do eat peanut shells but didn’t put them into this recipe,)  added lots of fresh cracked ground pepper and threw in a BUNCH of Jalapeno Pepper slices.


Then I put it into a BOWL that was actually 1/2 of a fresh raw red pepper.  Isn’t it pretty?

Let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS…….HEAVENLY.  If I make it again I will add sliced black olives to sprinkle on top!


And this is what my daughter had for lunch….. a tuna sandwich – easy on the mayo.

SO THE JURY IS OUT ON TASTE PREFERENCES…….I have a tendency to like things that are different…..and maybe that is GENETIC…..but……maybe far out taste preferences skip a generation…..or two!  My daughter eats like a normal person, my Daddy and I are what I call more fluent with our taste preferences!  I will let you know if I ever figure this out!!!  🙂

In the meantime I am taking a little poll.


a) a plain mayo and tuna sandwich for lunch type

b) a syrup on my cottage cheese type

c) I am going to try sao’s RED PEPPER SPINACH DELIGHT

d) all of the above

e) none of the above

f) _________________________________________________________





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One Response to “Taste Preferences – are they Learned, Genetic, Both or NEITHER?”

  1. JudyCinNC says:

    Shirley I would definitely try the spinach, peanuts and red pepper, however I can no longer eat anything spicey so would leave out the Jalapeno Pepper slices and opt for olives and garbanzo beans with it.. Making me hungry – which tonight is homemade vegetable soup with barley and okra in it. Keep on keeping on. Judy C

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