My wife and I ate at a local Mexican restaurant the other day.
We’ve eaten at the same establishment many times before and always enjoyed it. This time was no exception.
While we were savoring our enchiladas, burritos and trimmings, Wendy mentioned how a couple of our good friends don’t care for the place. I later said that I would just have to agree to disagree with them, because I really like the food served there.
That got my analytical mind going on the age-old saying that “there’s no accounting for taste,” which basically means there’s no way to explain peoples’ varying opinions about anything and everything.
Perhaps more than anything else, taste varies in direct proportion to population. In other words, there are about seven billion people on Earth, and an equivalent number of tastes.
In still other words, that means a given person might go “mmmm, that’s sounds so good” when presented with the idea of eating a plate of raw quail eggs at a fancy sushi restaurant, while the next person gags at the thought of even trying to get them past their lips. As a matter of course, four out of the following six people might agree with the first person, while the next eight side with the gagger.
And none of them are wrong. Taste is not a matter of right and wrong, but perception and reception. When someone perceives something is good, they’ll receive it with positive thoughts and feelings, and it stands to reason that the opposite is also true.
Of course, the term “taste” isn’t limited to the buds in our food intake systems, but rather covers any and every preference someone might have in any and all areas and subjects where choices exist.
Home décor, for example. Who hasn’t seen a TV show depicting a home interior makeover and been in complete disagreement with what the shows “expert” came up with?
Cars, too. There isn’t a manufacturer or a body style in existence that isn’t the worst in the history of mankind if you talk to the right person.
It was that way when I worked in audio and video retail for about 20 years in the Seattle area. I was in the same store for about 10 of those years, and we carried car stereo gear by several top-notch brands, and even more good brands of home electronics. I always found it fascinating how there was inevitably a portion of the customer base that was against every single brand. I used to joke with people – but it was actually true – that “everything we carry is junk. All you have to do is find the right person and they’ll be sure to tell you that.”
Taste is so arbitrary and fleeting that people aren’t always able to account for their own, let alone that of others. That’s illustrated in the fact that when asked how they can possibly like this or that, it’s not uncommon for folks to reply, “I don’t know, I just do.”
But that’s the nature of taste, and why it’s one of life’s foremost mysteries. It’s not necessarily identifiable or quantifiable; it just is what it is.
Anyway, the next time you see someone pull into a parking lot in a car you can’t stand, dressed in an ensemble you wouldn’t be caught dead in and wearing shoes by a brand you’re convinced is the worst that ever hit the market, keep in mind that same person might think your shoes are made by the world’s worst-ever brand, your car is the worst that ever hit the road, the CD in your dash is done by an artist who has zero talent, and the 44-ounce soda you’re sipping from is nothing but worthless sugar water.
And the next time you feel led to “warn” someone about the perils they’ll face when they eat at a specific restaurant or patronize a given business run by an individual you “know” has a sordid past, keep in mind how weird they’ll think you are after they come away feeling they’ve had a positive experience. Naturally, you’ll cling to your belief that you’re right, but their perception will likely be unaltered by yours.
That’s all part of the “taste” game.
But with all that in mind, I would point out that while there may not be a way to explain varying in taste in taste, there actually IS a way to account for it: It’s all part of God’s plan. Complicated, yes, and there’s no way for our puny brains to entirely account for that.
But that’s 100-percent OK with me – because of my taste.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: email@example.com.