Monday, July 12, 2010

Let the Games Begin

Lately I’ve acquired a reputation for having ESP. Not like that kid in The Sixth Sense who sees dead people. I taste things. Where others might detect curry, I perceive its nuanced subtext of coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon. My Extra Sensory Palate not only gives me the power to identify spices and ingredients, it also endows me with a compulsion to mouth off about it. For instance, while dining with friends, I might unconsciously blurt out, "Coriander," in Tourettes-like fashion. And sometimes I'll get so carried away that I’ll offer a blow-by-blow account of my whole meal in real time.

Someone seemed to think that I am what’s called a supertaster—a person with an unusually high number of taste buds. So I did a little research. Apparently supertasters experience bitter and salty foods more intensely than other people. Supposedly they crave salt because it cancels out the bitterness. Some of the foods that supertasters can't stomach are Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, green tea, coffee, alcohol, soy products and dark chocolate. Huh? No dark, leafy greens, bittersweet chocolate or caffeine? But those are my BFFs (Bitter Food Friends). Without them, how would I get my folic acid fix, satiate my sweet tooth and jumpstart my cerebrum so it can create this scintillating prose?

Though I haven't taken it, there is a supertaster test that can determine whether or not you are of that ilk. You put a filter paper on your tongue, and supertasters will find the test unbearably bitter. But since I have come to the probable conclusion that I'm not a supertaster, I haven't bothered. What would I do with that knowledge anyway? Put it on my résumé under Super Powers? Thanks, but I'll stick to channeling my ESP in public and alienating those around me.

Yes, my behavior drives people crazy, but some are actually impressed by it, as if I am gifted. And the more they expect me to excel at it, the more competitive I get. When I play tennis, I cavalierly hit the ball and hope it lands within the lines. But I’ll be damned if anyone’s gonna beat me at falafel ball or meatball. I got game! So I got to thinking. Could I parlay my ESP into a lucrative career on ESPN? Could I make the big time as a professional athleater? Until a sports agent discovers me, I guess I’ll still be playing in the minors. But just you wait. One day I’m going to be the next Kobe Beef Bryant.

*I took this photo at a cafeteria in Istanbul


  1. I think it is far better to have good taste and a refined palate than to be a biological freak of nature. GREG

  2. I like the fact that you are endowed with such tasting powers! That means you can be discriminating in what you eat or don't eat.Now I am wondering how I would fare. The only thing I can tell with certainty is if a cake is made from a box or a mix.

  3. Well, you wouldn't drive me crazy, because I'd be right in there with you, trying to figure out what the spices or ingredients are. What the heck, we're Foodies, after all. Yeah!

  4. As long as you don't instantly sprout a cape with the initials STD while morphing into 'Super Taste Detector' mode I think you'll be okay.

  5. Perhaps you should contact the Food Network to propose a new show concept? Even if you don't pass the supertaster litmus taste - with your wit, you could make millions as the host.

  6. Kobe beef Bryant?!?! LoL! You funny. Love the flavor-Tourettes comparison. I'm guilty of that for sure.