Friday, August 26, 2011

Unfortunate Random Taste Associations and Good Ramen

Have you ever had the smell or taste of one item completely ruin the smell or taste of another item for you? Perhaps some wonderful artisan cheese would have been a beautiful experience for you had it not been for the smell of your brother's feet after a football game indelibly imprinted on your brain as a toddler? I myself hadn't really experienced this before until recently. And mine is a doozy.

I am a big fan of the new Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver (those who know me in real life would not be surprised). To help tell the story of the blue whale skeleton impressively hanging in the atrium, the education staff and volunteers at the museum create a multi-sensory experience with various specimens. One of these is a tiny jar of rotting whale flesh and dirt which has a smell that naturally repulses most people and helps visitors to appreciate the ordeal of unearthing the buried whale carcass and getting the skeleton cleaned. Well thanks to that tiny little jar (and repeated exposures), I can't eat the bamboo shoot included in big bowls of ramen at Benkei Ramen. Now, I can't be sure that I wouldn't have disliked them anyway without the rotting whale flesh smell jar, but I have eaten plenty of Chinese bamboo shoots. Anyhow, I just made another attempt yesterday to eat the bamboo shoots after having made that taste connection during the previous ramen meal. I now know to say "hold the bamboo shoot" when ordering ramen. I have never been one to ask to hold anything that came with a meal I wanted anywhere, so this is disappointing. And think about it, bamboo shoot isn't even a sea organism, so why do they smell/taste the same? And I usually make it a rule to give things the ole' three tries before rejecting anything since so many things are acquired tastes, but I'm at the point where I'm just too repulsed by the association. Maybe I'll give it a try in the future when I'm not exposed to rotting whale flesh so often.

Oh, and by the way, Benkei Ramen is great. I've now tried both the Robson location on Thurlowe St., just off Robson, and the 3217 W. Broadway location. Nice noodle texture, and a hot, hearty meal under $10, which will be especially satisfying once the rain comes back. And should you be curious about my particular association, I've got a great rainy day plan for you - spend a morning at the Biodiversity museum, and then have a nice bowl of ramen in Kits right after.