“This place used to be better, when the old man was doing the cooking, but now already jatuh standard.”
How many times have we heard about something like the preceding line? A particular restaurant or hawker stall that used to produce gastronomically perfect food, but had just been in decline since the “good old years”. If I get 50 sen for every time that I hear someone saying that, I’d be a very rich man now.
On the contrary, I have almost never heard praises that a certain dining place has improved in the taste; there might be better decorations, improved services, but never taste. Tasting department has somehow always been in decline, why is that?
I believe there are two factors working in tandem, life style and biology. The rise of our sophistication in food, and the decline of our taste buds.
Mantis shrimp used to be the best thing, and then you have fresh Maine lobster; chicken liver was great, but it is all different after the foie gras experience. When we revisit the old favorites, it just seems to be not as good as we remembered, and that has got to do with the new taste we acquired. It’s akin to cars in a way, the Proton Wira is never the same once you’ve driven the fancy BMW.
In the biological side, it is very simple. As we grow older, our sense of taste and smell simply goes into decline. There are fewer taste buds, and hence the strength of flavor gets diluted over the years. Instead of the food lacking the taste of yesteryear’s standard, it is our tongue that we should blame.
I don’t take it for granted that the heir of a great hawker stall owner will never be able to replicate the father’s ability. He could very well be better than the old man. For otherwise I could only envy of the great food our ancestors must have enjoyed, and pity on the generations to come as everything else must taste horrible after we are gone if the perceived trend is true.
Throw away the misconception, have an open mind and enjoy your food, bon appetit!