We all know that every person has different tastes when it comes to different objects, therefore we gravitate towards people or objects that carry similarities with our own choices. Yet, a glaringly obvious gravitation misses the mark when we are talking about the similarities and the association with the known.
Alcoholic beverages, we all know them, we’ve all had them. No one escapes alcohol in today’s world, it’s in your cough syrup, which means if you had a bottle of cough syrup, you’ve probably have had about 2 beers worth of alcohol. Ever wondered about the taste of cough syrups? How did they get from all bitter and repulsive to the first thing you go for when you’ve got a sore throat? How did that happen?
A similar situation arises when in a relatively social event, a friend asks you to ‘give it a shot’ and you consume your first strong alcoholic beverage and are overtaken by the bitter taste and cannot help but blurt out, How/Why do you guys drink this? It is so bitter. Then they blurt out the golden words that are the basis of this particular piece of writing, “Dude, it is an acquired taste.”
True enough, although most people would still describe strong alcoholic drinks still, as bitter and repulsive, the relatively lighter ones have become ‘tasty,’ much like our dear childhood friend, the cough syrup. This phenomenon is called taste masking, using alcohol as a solvent, to dissolve fatty acids and oils. Alcohol, in some cultures has become a societal norm, yet in some cultures remains a blasphemous taboo. Yet, there isn’t a corner of this world, where alcohol is not consumed in one measure or another. However, we fail to realise that, amidst all the social scuffles and party nights throughout our lives, there is something that is amiss.
Momordica charantia, a vegetable, bitter in taste which rivals that of any alcoholic beverage, minus the harmful addiction issue, which should by all means make it the king of the vegetables in this era is sadly, probably the most repulsive vegetable for people on the planet. We all know this little ditty as Karela. Although containing the same scientific ‘taste’ as alcohol and far more medicinal advantages, people seldom gravitate towards this extremely similar tasting vegetable, compared to alcohol.
The mere mention of this vegetable being on the mess menu gives off a feeling as if everyone suddenly stepped into their worst nightmare. But, if the bitter taste of alcohol, which by local Indian societal standards, is considered as a “don’t tell my parents I had it” status, can be turned into something that people actually refer to as ‘tasty,’ Why is the same benefit not afforded to the Bitter Gourd? Given the time, and perseverance, one might find it quite tasty, and include them in most dishes. As we all know, in some parts of the country, Karela-bhaajji is a daily dish. This is not just a coincidence. People have realised the nutritious value of the Bitter Melon, and are actively introducing it into their daily diet.
Just like the cough syrup, which you came to like just because you gave it a chance and believed in it that, it would help your health and just like the friends who asked you to ‘give it a shot,’ give Momordica Charantia aka. Karela aka. Bitter Gourd/Melon, a shot at improving your health and life through organic consumption. If you really want to acquire a taste, acquire the taste of the smarter of the two choices.
The writer is a student at Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
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