For years I didn’t like tea. But even though I knew I didn’t like it, I really wanted to. So every now and then I would make myself a cup of tea and take a few tentative sips. I’d do this about once a year, hoping to discover that I had developed a taste for it, so that when at a friends house and someone said ‘tea?’ and everyone made great, appreciative noises, I wouldn’t have to say ‘coffee for me’, in a way that always sounded sullen and disappointed. And then, this is where the story takes on a tone of miraculous wonder, one day I decided to try tea one more time. This happened half way through watching a film. It was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I suddenly paused the film and declared ‘I’m going to try tea again!’ I really am a dreadful person to watch films with. But this time, finally, I liked the tea.
I went on to drink a lot of tea of all different types. Coffee just doesn’t have the scope of tea. Now I have Earl Grey and Darjeeling and Chai and a myriad of different herbal teas. This type of thing is really exciting if you don’t drink alcohol and are quite easily excited; which I am.
A few years later I decided to try the same trick with olives, something else I had never liked but slowly built an appreciation for. When I sat down to read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami I read the first hundred pages and then lost interest and put it down. A few years later I went back to it, started again from the beginning and loved it so much that that book is now my default answer when asked what my favourite book is.
Yesterday I decided to tackle mustard. I have never liked mustard, but it seemed like another taste that would be worth acquiring. I bought a nice, crunchy French stick, an onion and the best vegetarian sausages money can buy (I know, I know – leave me alone). I fried the onions and sausages, assembled a handsome looking hot-dog, added ketchup and the crucial Colemans Mustard. I took them into the lounge, sat down in front of the football and tried them. My immediate reaction wasn’t good, but I persevered. I took big, enthusiastic bites, keeping an open mind. It was vile though. I couldn’t even pretend I liked it. It shot horrible mustard spasms up my face and I could taste it in my nose. It was so vile I kept getting little phantom aftertastes of it all day. I had water and strawberries, but they didn’t help.
The mustard is in the bin now.