i heart learning

i heart learning

Monday, June 27, 2011

supertasters

I like to think I have a refined palette. So does Nelson.

Yes I love disney princess zoodles, and yes I love mac and cheese from a box



But over the years Nelson (he has very she-she-fru-fru tastebuds) has taught me to have a taste for the 'finer things,' like tartar, escargot and oyster shooters. I have come a long way from my Club Price 'taquitos are a foodgroup' days.

And every once in a while we like to do that whole pretentious thing where we call out each ingredient we taste as the food gets swooshed around our mouths. And we are dead serious when we do it.

The other night the discussion revolved around honey garlic scallops Nelson had made.

Me: 'This is superb - the texture!'
Nelson: 'The ginger adds just the right amount of bite...'
Me: 'and don't forget the garlic! It's like caramelized.'
Nelson: 'Yes the sauce hardens almost right away but the honey adds a slight sweetness.'
Becca: 'The outer scallop has such a nice crisp texture against the chewy inside.'
Nelson: It's a robust flavor - but not too pungent.'

Okay you caught me. Nelson doesn't use words like robust and pungent. I added those to snob it up a bit, channeling a sommelier getting their schnoz right up in their wine glass. But our conversation was very similar...interspersed of course with unnecessary moans and groans to over exaggerate the deliciousness of the melt in your mouth recipe.

Today I learned about 'supertasters,' people who taste foods more intensely than the average person. They have more 'fungiform papillae,' those protruding dots all over your tongue. When you put blue food coloring on your tongue you can see how many you have.


This is not my tongue. Mine is much prettier I assure you
So supertaster's palettes are more sensitive to flavours. I was immediately jealous.
It sounds like an awesome superpower - like they could amplify the amazingness of popcorn, lasagna or perogies and bacon. If I were a supertaster for one day I would couch surf and eat licorice allsorts.

But apparently being a supertaster is not all its cracked up to be. It is a debilitating condition because many cannot enjoy a variety of flavors. They perceive normal foods as being too spicy, too sweet or too bitter.

I learned about 'supertasters' from a show on TLC about weird food addictions - and this guy on it couldn't eat anything but french fries because everything else tasted terrible to him. The bitterness of cheese made him gag. He was a supertaster, confirmed by a small piece of paper he had to put in his mouth that to the average person tasted like paper, but to supertasters was incredibly bitter.

I found an online quiz to determine if you are a supertaster:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/body/interactives/supertaster/

It says I am one - but I also read that supertasters don't like junky food - as I am sitting here chowing through a jumbo box of Willy Wonka Runts.  So take this quiz with a grain of salt, people.

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