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Your favorite bitter foods

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Old 08-29-2009, 10:11 PM   #1
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Default Your favorite bitter foods

A year or two ago, a farmers' market vendor gave me a bitter melon to try (a bitter vegetable that looks a bit like a wrinkled yellow cucummber). I cooked it as the vendor directed, and hubby and I didn't like it - far TOO bitter.

The other day, I bought some chinese broccoli http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kai-lan

When I tasted it raw, it was sweet, but after I cooked it, it was bitter, but only a bit more than broccoli.

I didn't care for it the first serving. Then I stirred some into an omelette (much better), and tonight I ate the rest with a vinaigrette salad (and loved it).

I don't think it was the preparation that was making it better every time I ate it, I just think that the flavor "grew on me," and it got me thinking that most foods that I like that are a bit bitter, I didn't like the first time I tried them. Some of them are now my favorite foods (dark chocolate, tea, blue cheeses, liver, mustard and turnip greens, grapefruit...).

I'm also finding that I like more bitter foods as I get older (I read that this is common, because our tastebuds become less sensitive to bitterness as we get older).

It got me wondering whether that's generically true of bitter foods.
What are your favorites? And did you like them at first bite, or is it an "acquired taste" you eventually acquired. Also, what bitter foods do you still not like, even though you've tried them multiple times? For me, it's coffee. I'm only now (I'm 43) starting to like it (but just a teeny bit). Yet, strangely, I do like white chocolate covered coffee beans.
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:13 PM   #2
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Arugula - it's not a salad without it And I prefer walnuts usually because they're more bitter (or is it astringent?) and not sweet like, say, almonds.


Coffee and tea, of course.
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:56 PM   #3
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Well I don't like coffee but I do like chinese broccoli. I've had bitter melon before where someone else cooked it and I liked it.

I'm not sure there is a veggie I've met that I don't like so...
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Old 08-30-2009, 03:25 AM   #4
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I love love love broccoli raab and it is virtually impossible to find!

Other bitter veggies that I like include:
  • Endive and radicchio (although I prefer radicchio sauteed or roasted)
  • Arugula
  • Mustard greens (but only raw, I don't really like them cooked)
  • Turnip and collard greens, but only if cooked well
  • Thai bok choi and other Asian greens (Chinese broccoli, tatsoi, yu choi, pea shoots, whatever the heck else they sell at my farmers' market). But I'm too lazy to cook them so I just eat them raw in salads.

I also like grapefruit, but it doesn't taste bitter to me. Even the grapefruit I get at Trader Joe's tastes sweet to me (and the farmers' market grapefruit tastes especially sweet).

I also love watermelon rind (just by itself, not pickled) and like the sour melons (different than bitter melons) sold at my farmers' market that taste similar to watermelon rind. And I can eat limes and Meyer lemons the way other people eat oranges. But these foods are all probably more sour than bitter.

Interestingly, my SO won't each spinach or broccoli (not even cooked) but he'll eat almost any other bitter green I throw into our salads, including chinese broccoli (just the leaves, I pick out all the stems for myself).
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Old 08-30-2009, 09:27 AM   #5
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Oh I miss grapefruit so much. I am on path to get off of BC pills which means I can eat grapefruit again.

I love greens too but the bitter thing I came up with is chocolate

I love dark chocolate and the only time I thought that maybe it was a bit too much was 99% chocolate. I liked it but really a small bite gives you the chocolate fix.
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Old 08-30-2009, 03:24 PM   #6
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Grapefruit is not bitter, it's sour and tart.

I was reading one of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks lately and he was talking about bitter flavors. He mentioned that before processed foods became available people used to enjoy lots of bitter flavors. But slowly once high fructose corn syrup (icky simple sugar) and salt were added to everything that we lost our ability to really appreciate those bitter flavors. The first step is to try to limit our consumption of processed foods and then to begin to incorporate these bitter flavors into our palate. Here's some foods I once hated but grew to love

Frisee
Endive
Escarole
Arugula
Walnuts
Dandelion greens
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Old 08-30-2009, 03:52 PM   #7
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Marmalade is another bitter food that I've recently acquired a taste for. I have made Meyer lemon marmalade and a blood orange and pomelo marmalade and both are great. I love the combination of sweet and bitter.
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:51 PM   #8
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Many of the citrus varieties that have a bitter note, aren't easy to find anymore, because most people prefer the sweetest varieties. "Old-fashioned" white grapefruit has a bitter afternote. Pink grapefruit varieties have little to none of that slight bitterness. I haven't eaten grapefruit in more ten years, because of some of the meds I'm on (deadly interactions are possible), but even in the 90's when I was buying them regularly, the bitter varieties of grapefruit were getting harder to find. Too bad, because it was a "good" bitter.


Most of the bitterness in citrus is usually in the pith, the white part of the peel just under the skin (so marmalades, which generally include the skin and even some of the pith) have that delicious sweet, sour, and tad of bitter flavor that I love.
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Old 08-30-2009, 09:48 PM   #9
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I am really not 100% sure of what is meant by "bitter." I love mustard and wasabi, and horseradish. It that bitter? I like Turnips boiled and mashed like potatoes. Daikon radish? It seems to me that radishes are bitter. I like KimChee. Lime pickles (Indian condiment). Quinine water and Gentian are some of the most bitter liquids and I like them. Some herbs are bitter. I do like the turnip/mustard/collard greens, but in small quantities, some leaves floating in a soup.
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Old 03-28-2010, 08:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueToBlue View Post

Other bitter veggies that I like include:
  • Endive and radicchio (although I prefer radicchio sauteed or roasted)
  • Arugula
  • Mustard greens (but only raw, I don't really like them cooked)
  • Turnip and collard greens, but only if cooked well
  • Thai bok choi and other Asian greens (Chinese broccoli, tatsoi, yu choi, pea shoots, whatever the heck else they sell at my farmers' market). But I'm too lazy to cook them so I just eat them raw in salads.
I love all of these braised or roasted or grilled. I also like grapefruit under the broiler with a bit of honey. My four year old loves it as well.

ETA: didn't realize this was such an old thread! I was searching for endive recipes!
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Old 03-28-2010, 11:45 AM   #11
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Love baby bok choi, A stir fry is not a stir fry without it
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