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Making the Supertaster

July 9, 2008

I’ve long been fascinated by the concept of “supertasters,” who are people with superior senses of taste due to the presence of dominant alleles of a certain gene. I have a pretty good palate, and pride myself on both being able to enjoy a lot of flavors, as well as identify specifics within a dish. But there is a downside to being an actual bonified supertaster, which is that they are invariably very very picky because things taste too strong, so they lose a sense of enjoyment. Lessened pleasure from food? That takes the fun out of the idea. I was recently reading that when trying to determine a supertaster, you can look at someone’s tongue and literally measure their tastebuds, or, there are five questions to ask which can also give you an idea. The first four:

  1. Do you enjoy black coffee?
  2. Do you like scotch?
  3. Do artificial sweeteners taste different to you than regular sugar?
  4. Do you tend to oversalt food?

These questions all lead to the question of whether or not you have oversensitive taste buds. Unlightened coffee and scotch both have a bitterness which a supertaster would shy from. And oversalting food can tip the scales away from the bitter flavor naturally occurring in many foods. Bitter is why children don’t like vegetables. My answers? I definitely need to mitigate my coffee with dairy; I find scotch rather bitter; artificial sweetener tastes like I imagine rat poison does; and I am a big fan of salt.

The last question of the series is:

5. Did you mother suffer from morning sickness while pregnant with you?

My mother did was not particularly afflicted, though a certain queasy feeling did dictate that she pack up and hide a certain set of green melamine dishes which had formerly been a staple. So it’s possible that I am not a supertaster — but the news — admittedly hidden deep in the blog, but hey, this is an eating blog rather than a procreation blog — anyhow, the news is that I may be making one!

A supertaster, that is. That’s right, for the last few weeks or so, I have been bossed by a dime-sized embedded something who has grabbed the wheel, or the reins, or whatever normally drives me around — OH! My STOMACH! to tell me exactly what is and is not acceptable to eat, and it’s not just in the morning. Suddenly, my love for vegetables had turned into a shuddering hatred. I recently tried to get my three year old niece to eat a piece of broccoli. She’s generally pretty cheerful, but explained very earnestly — No. That is DISGUSTING. Which I thought was pretty funny — but now I relate in a very real way. While dinner is normally the reason I get out of bed in the morning, eating past late afternoon is now a dicey proposition. The joy I take in eating has been temporarily quelled. Extinguished might be a more apt word.

Nevertheless, we’re delighted. We might soon have a supertaster in the family! Or if not a supertaster, at least someone who will be able to give a resounding answer “YES” to question number 5.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2008 6:46 pm

    You will have the cutest, most verbally articulate supertaster in the world!


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