I can't fully understand the following sentence:
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.
-Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address-
What bothers me is the bolded part. I know that Jobs meant "Getting fired from Apple was a very unpleasant experience to me, but it turned out to be a great oppertunity to start something new." But how should I understand the grammatical structure of this sentence?
I came up with two possible explanations:
- It was awful tasting medicine = Tasting medicine was awful. (expletive it)
If I understand it this way, this sentence has nothing to do (at least grammatically) with the preceding sentence. In addition to that, I don't think that someone would go around "tasting medicine". You take medicines, not taste.
- It was awful-tasting medicine, with "it" representing the preceding sentence.
This leaves me with one big question: shouldn't you use "an"? Like,
"It was an awful tasting medicine, ..."
Which explanation is more convincing? Or can someone give me an alternative interpretation of this sentence? Thank you.