When I got serious about improving my cooking, I knew I needed to improve my palate.
I needed to be both discerning and well read in the foods of the world. As a person whose favorite foods were hamburgers and lasagna, I wasn't exactly starting from third base. I had a long list of foods I didn't like, but I knew I couldn't achieve the breadth of palate I wanted without reducing that number.
So I gave myself a rule.
If I can't articulate exactly why I dislike a food, I have to try it at every opportunity.
No more hiding behind "it's gross." Instead, I radically increased my exposure to a huge number of foods.
Pickles were near the top of my shit list, but they always show up next to sandwiches. Without exaggerating, I eat approximately 300 sandwiches a year. I had ample pickle opportunities.
I never had to finish a whole pickle, but I always had to taste it. After a few tries, a crazy thing happened and I actually started liking pickles.
I realized that most of what I disliked about food wasn't its taste or its texture.
My negative reactions came from simply experiencing something new. If it didn't immediately remind me of old pleasures, it went in the dislike bin and wasn't thought of again.
I didn't even give myself the chance to like it.
As soon as I realized that my relationship with genres of music followed the same pattern, I knew this truth was universal. Most of our dislikes come from lack of contact. Nothing more.
If you let yourself encounter more of the world, you'll mostly find new things things to like and love.
Except radicchio. Fuck radicchio.