It's funny how our tastebuds change over time, and how dishes we once thought were disgusting as kids can make us more nostalgic than ever as adults.
That's why we asked our HuffPost Canada editors and readers to share the one food from their culture they used to hate, but now love. Turns out, there are plenty of dishes our tiny tastebuds used to dislike, but we've somehow managed to build a strong connection to them as we grew up.
Here are 11 cultural foods we still hold dear today.
1. Oxtail and curry mutton
"When I was a kid, I convinced myself that I didn't like fish, which is a big staple food in my Chinese-Jamaican culture. I was also embarrassed to eat things like oxtail and curry mutton, which is ridiculous when your family runs a Jamaican restaurant. As I got older and shed a lot of my insecurities about my race shaping my appearance, I learned to embrace my culture, and with it, all the food I had shunned as a child. Now, I eat whole fish with my hands and am trying to master as many recipes as I can so that I never have to go without these foods again." — Jessica Chin, Markham, Ont.
"There's this Iranian dish called Fesenjoon/Fesenjān that's basically a walnut, pomegranate stew — usually with either chicken or red meat — that I used to hate as a kid, mostly because I thought it looked like poop. And then I grew up and actually tried it and it's super delicious. I love it now, it's sooooo good with nice, buttery Iranian saffron rice." — Sima Shakeri, Chicoutimi, Que.
"When I was little I thought it looked gross and felt slimy. We make it into a sauce and put it on top of rice or vegetables or meat. Now that I'm older, I know that Callaloo leaves are similar to spinach and are very good for you. I put seafood in my Callaloo, like crab legs, and it's so delicious and healthy." — Ariel Norman, Kelowna, B.C.
"I used to hate congee because when [my sisters and I] were young, we ate congee only when we were sick and couldn't eat solid food. But now I love it as it is soothing, easy to digest and can be of different variety and best in cold winter!" — Nancy Yan, Markham, Ont.
5. Lox (also known as smoked salmon)
"When I was a kid, I was completely disgusted by the bright orange, seemingly slimy, definitely fishy lox that was put out for every lunch spread or non-meat meal for holidays. (According to kosher laws, milk and meat can't be consumed together. Fish lies in the neutral 'pareve' zone, which means it can be eaten with either). Despite my father piling his plate with the stuff and declaring it a delicacy, it was simply gag-inducing to me. It felt very much like some kind of weird food only my family ate and I wanted no part of it.
"Then I grew up. I started going out for brunch. And lo and behold, what was on the menu, mixed in with omelettes and gracing the tops of salads? That's right — lox, sometimes known as smoked salmon, sometimes called gravlax, somehow no longer disgusting. I gave it a try, far from my grandmother's living room, and found out that my dad was completely right. Salty, light and much more subtle in taste than its smell made me believe, lox is a delicacy. It's possible my tastebuds just needed to mature in order to get that." — Rebecca Zamon, Toronto.
"Laksa is essentially a spicy noodle soup usually served with chicken or prawns, and as you can imagine, this was not something my little tastebuds could handle as a kid. Even though my mom would dumb down the spice level with added chicken broth, the heat wasn't the only thing that put me off. As a kid, I turned my nose up at a lot of Chinese-Malaysian food, including congee, soy sauce chicken and, yes, even dim sum.
If you hadn't already guessed, I was a picky eater with simple tastes, opting for pizza and hamburgers over any food from my culture. But then I grew up, and I remember being drawn into the kitchen by the smell of my mother cooking laksa one day. I tried the dish again and was instantly blown away by the spicy, savoury taste.
Today, laksa is one of my favourite meals. Not only is it delicious, but it reminds me of my family every time I make it. And by family, I don't just mean my mom and grandmother, who are pros at making it from scratch, but my late grandfather especially, who was of Malay descent and loved this dish as much as I do now." — Isabelle Khoo, Whitby, Ont.
7. Ginisang Ampalaya at Itlog
"I hated the taste of Ginisang Ampalaya at Itlog — a Filipino dish made of bitter melon and scrambled eggs. To me, the combination was anything but natural, and bitter melon had such a potent flavour. Even still, I was forced to eat it. My parents and grandparents talked about its health benefits and ate it as if they were on a food show — mocking me and my distaste of it with each bite.
"Today, it's a dish I love. It packs a punch, it's not complicated and it reminds me of the fun we had at the dinner table." — Russell Sabio, Mississauga, Ont.
8. Canned sardines with salted black beans
"As a kid, this came across as weird, tinny and smelly — but this is in my rotation of comfort foods now that I'm a mom, who is pressed for time and living far from my own parents. Only the passage of time can help me appreciate the genius and convenience of such a product. It's also delicious to my tastebuds now, with the salted, slightly fermented sardines transporting me back to what's comforting and familiar." — Andree Lau, Vancouver.
9. Bún Riêu
"I was a picky eater back when I was a kid. I hated lima beans and bean sprouts made me gag, but nothing made me shake my head faster than the sight of bún riêu. It's a Vietnamese tomato soup that's heavy in shellfish flavour thanks to the grounded-up crab base and served with rice noodles and congealed pig's blood.
"It's got a strong sour, savoury flavour profile to it that's a little complex for say, your average eight-year-old. So when it was the main course at my aunt's house one night many years ago, I literally cried at the sight of it because there was nothing else to eat. (I remember eating just plain rice noodles that night).
"Fast-forward 20 years later and tomatoes are still my least favourite fruit, but now I slurp up every bowl that comes my way." — Brian Trinh, Mississauga, Ont.
10. Tote Oma
"As a kid, I hated a dish that's called literally 'dead granny' in German [fried blood sausage with sauerkraut and potatoes]. I probably hated it because of the name and because it looks like a granny who has met Sweeney Todd. I got used to it when I grew up and actually love the salty taste with a hint of iron in it now." — Ray Hidaka, Tokyo, Japan
"As a child, I used to hate tofu, which is weird because kids are supposed to like bland foods, right? And what could be blander than tofu? So for years I avoided it, pushing it around my plate hoping no one would notice.
"But comfort is often soft and understated, just like tofu. In my late teens, my mom started making a very simple soup of chicken stock, greens (spinach or watercress, sometimes bok choy), ginger and tofu. I was a crappy kid and rebelled a lot. But for whatever reason, I took to the soup. It was often there on the stove, waiting for me, even if I was in a sour teen mood. And so, I started eating tofu.
"Now, whenever I want something comforting, it's often tofu. At the Chinese buffet, I'll head straight for the tofu-fa [pictured above], which is warm, soft tofu swimming in a sweet ginger syrup. I'll make a variation of mapo tofu on a cold winter day and heap it over rice. And when I'm sick, I'll make my mom's simple tofu soup. But it's never the same. She makes it best." — Lisa Yeung, Toronto.
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