is how the restaurant critic Matthew Evans describes himself: absorbing all the tastes, smells, flavours and ambience of restaurants.
He explains how, although he may particularly dislike a certain food or dish, he has to be able to know what it should taste like, and discern the quality of the ingredients, flavours, cooking, and as, DG said, whether the chef has added something special to it or not. And then praise it or not, accordingly.
This seems to me to be analogous to what a literary critic or lecturer has to do.
Fortunately, I am not in those positions, so I can romp around among what gives me pleasure.