Changing Foods

So many foods taste different from what I remember them tasting in my youth. Although people say it doesn’t matter where things are grown, it makes a huge difference. When I was young, most of our fruits and vegetables were grown in the United States, and were only available when they were in season. But oh, they were so worth waiting for! Oranges so sweet they put sugar to shame. Tomatoes so juicy and tangy and sweet it was easy to understand they were basically a fruit and not a vegetable. And now? Oranges that come from south of us are bitter, tomatoes are tasteless, and all manner of foods have depleted nutritional value.

Oddly, it works the other way, too. I first had kiwi fruits from New Zealand, and they were fabulous, but those grown in the USA are rather bland. Same with Granny Smith apples; when they came from New Zealand, they were sweet and tangy and crisp; often those grown in the USA are mealy and sour.

One thing that is vastly different from my youth is Hershey’s cocoa powder. Back then, because of the high cocoa butter content, the powder couldn’t be dissolved in a liquid. To make hot chocolate, you had to heat sugar and cocoa and a bit of milk, stirring constantly, to make a syrup, and then gradually add the rest of the milk, still stirring. I tend to think it’s one of the reasons powdered hot chocolate mixes became so popular — you just dumped the mix into a mug, add hot water, and instant hot chocolate! Now, cocoa is so devoid of fat that it is instantly dissolved in milk. It’s also much blander and the color is a lot paler.

My mother made a meat dish that I dubbed “black meat” when I was very young because of its intensely brown color. (When I asked her how to make it, she told me to “slice any cheap beef into thin strips, roll in butter mixed with paprika, salt, and garlic powder. Brown the meant, and a little water, finely chopped onions, 1 teaspoon cocoa, a dash of cloves, and a bit of leftover coffee. Then cook forever.”)

The last time I made this, the meat tasted sort of the same, but the color was a regular gravy color. The cocoa powder simply is not the same. I thought perhaps they’d been adding an alkali to neutralize the natural acids like a Dutch processed cocoa, but apparently not. Oddly, Dutch processed cocoa is supposed to be darker than the more acidic cocoas, but when I was young, it was the opposite — you could always tell the Dutch processed cocoas because they were lighter in color.

That’s the problem with having lived so many decades — too many things are vastly different, and the people who write the articles now to explain those differences don’t go back far enough, probably because they aren’t very old and can’t imagine the world being any different before they set foot upon the earth.

A brief stint on Google showed me a bunch of gourmet brands that have a high fat content and are darker in color that grocery store cocoa, so I might shop around and see if I can duplicate the taste and texture of the old Hershey’s cocoa. But for the other foods, such as real oranges and real tomatoes? I’m out of luck.


While sorting through her deceased husband’s effects, Amanda is shocked to discover a gun and the photo of an unknown girl who resembles their daughter. After dedicating her life to David and his vocation as a pastor, the evidence that her devout husband kept secrets devastates Amanda. But Amanda has secrets of her own. . .

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10 Responses to “Changing Foods”

  1. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    I read somewhere that one reason tomatoes from the grocery don’t taste as good as they used to comes from growers work with hybrid to engineer tomatoes that last longer–cuts down waste from shipping, I guess, but it badly impacts the taste.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Definitely. They also genetically engineer some of them to keep longer by adding some sort of fish gene. Lucky us. I’m thinking I need to plant tomatoes this spring.

  2. mickeyhoffman Says:

    A random fact about tomato juice. The canned stuff was originally in tin cans and people got used to it. When they switched to aluminum, people complained about the taste. The company put back some artificial tin taste to make consumers happy. (I was a typesetter and typeset this bit of info in an International Flavor booklet.)

  3. Uthayanan Says:

    I buy 95% of my food shopping from my favorite organic shops.
    At the moment the best shop doesn’t have tomatoes.
    The reason it is out of season.
    It is always possible to buy tomatoes from supermarkets.
    Tomato’s from, Spain, Maroc and tomatoes cultivated interior from Nederland.
    So I decided to buy frozen tomato’s. Or imported organic tomatoes.
    By nature I am not interested in cooking. But I try to do good cooking.
    I feel I can survive.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s interesting to think of your buying food from all those exotic places. Most of ours comes from Mexico. Not exactly an exotic locale.

      • Uthayanan Says:

        I am fortunate to live in a big and famous gastronomic city in the world. To find all kind of rare vegetables and fruits.
        And Italy the neighbor another best (my wife always said that gastronomie Italian even better than France) gastronomic country.
        And other speciality from other European, nord-africains, Asian countries.
        But I ask always the same question without my soulmate is it worth just simply to continue my journey simply to eat and survive ? I don’t know !
        This month her anniversary arrives. So my intelligent and intellectual capacity is not good enough think.
        But I am always in learning process!

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          I don’t know either whether it’s enough just to survive, but I try to find something beyond mere survival every day to appreciate.

          • Uthayanan Says:

            Especially in grief I am always your fallower. I try to fallow your kind words.
            I always have your idea to fall in love with something not to somebody.
            But might be I need time and clear mind.

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            You still need time. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next couple of years you begin to have a renewed interest in life. Most of us do sometime between the third and fifth anniversary.

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