Acquired Tastes

According to the psychologists, there are — broadly — two human responses to new phenomena. Some folk are more inclined to look suspiciously upon the new, while others bounce up with tails wagging to see what’s happening.

By and large, I fall into the latter category. I like music from all over the world. I like odd foods from distant countries. I love sampling weird tropical fruits. I’m not addicted to novelty by any means (I’m still playing Skyrim when I have the inclination and increasingly rare time to play a computer game) but when something new rolls up, I’m generally curious and interested.

Now, both of these responses play an important role in the survival of the human species, and in particular, in the survival of a culture. People who are suspicious of new things (including strangers) are (supposedly, any how) more alert to possible dangers. They can keep the tribe safe from unexpected consequences, presumably. On the other hand, people like me expand the knowledge and the culture of the tribe. We’re the ones who discover that yeah, you actually can eat those globs of snot inside the bits of shell on the rocks over there, and they taste fantastic when you squeeze the juice of one of those sour yellow things from that nearby onto them.

Of course, this stuff spills over into politics, and that’s where things turn sad and regrettable. Because it seems that it’s very difficult for the suspicious-scary people to chill out and consider the possible benefits of new things, and they tend to expect (and believe in) the worst of any potential change. And there are way too many people who think that way, and it’s probably going to wind up killing our global civilization, I suspect. Seriously: asshats who think we’re going to be murderated in our sleep by refugees who make up just a tiny fraction of a percent of our population; egregious imbeciles who believe that letting non-heterosexual people get married will Bring God’s Wrath Upon Us All — these people also believe that Coal Is Good For Humanity, and Global Warming Is A Conspiracy, and a bunch of other braindead tripe, and yes, they’re likely to kill us all. Sorry. Hope you didn’t have any long-term plans that involved a high-tech, global exchange system. Or even, you know, a livable ecosystem.

But so be it. That’s not why I came here today. No, I came here because I’ve just had the chance to sample one of those iconic foreign flavours, and I’m still kinda horrified. The treat in question is from Scotland (and it’s not haggis; I don’t mind a decent chunk of haggis, thanks) and I’ve seen references to it in pop culture (pun not intended) for the last thirty years or so. I am, of course, referring to Irn Bru.

Scotland isn’t the only place that has it’s own iconic fizzy water. I have, for example, knocked off more than one of EnnZed’s much-lauded L&P (Lemon and Paeroa) soft drinks, and found them rather enjoyable. (I could taste the lemon, though it was all a bit sweet… but I still have no goddam idea what “Paeroa” might be. Nor even if I’ve spelled it correctly.) I’ve also had Calpis and Pocari Sweat from Japan, and survived nicely.

Tragically, Irn Bru did not live up to its reputation. It’s fizzy, and hideously sweet, and orange-ish in colour, and tastes something like Fanta (orange pop) and bubble gum, and it is altogether unforgivably nasty. On a scale of zero to flat Dr Pepper in horribleness, Irn Bru tips the scales somewhere above sugar-free sarsaparilla. (Although I have to admit that it doesn’t match the long-discontinued sugar-free, saccharine-free, caffeine-free Diet Fudge Cola that my friends and I discovered briefly during the worst period of our 1980s poverty.)

Irn Bru: on the whole, I’d rather eat durian.

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