I stumbled across this article on the perception of taste recently and thought it accurately illustrated how the mind "sees" what it wants to see.
While a big, juicy steak may indeed be culinary nirvana for many, your taste for beef could be based in part on expectation rather than reality.
Well, steak is not culinary nirvana, at least in my opinion. But it is interesting how our perceptions can influence our opinions. Once upon a time, a boss of mine used to walk around saying "Perception is Reality." Apparently she knew what she was talking about.
A study was conducted by the Journal of Consumer Research to determine the participants cultural perceptions and preferences for eating meat. The participants were told they would get a beef sausage roll or vegetarian roll to taste. Some participants were told what they were eating, and some were not. They were then asked to fill out a questionnaire describing how they liked the food.
"Participants who ate the vegetarian alternative did not rate the taste and aroma less favorably than those who ate the beef product," the researchers report in August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. "Instead, what influenced taste evaluation was what they thought they had eaten and whether that food symbolized values that they personally supported."
Now, I don't advocate lying to your family and friends, but perhaps, if we share this information with them, they'll be more willing to try that "weird vegan food" we're trying to feed them.