Friday, October 5, 2007

Fantastic Friday Tastebuds!

It's Friday!

Of course Friday is only relative.  For those who work this weekend, Friday is just another day.  For those who have worked the last 4 days and are now embarking on the 5th, congratulations, you've made it to the weekend!

Today I want to talk a bit about taste.  No, I'm not talking specifically about the types of things you buy or things you wear.  I want to talk specifically about eating and how things taste to certain people.  Have you ever wondered how something that tastes so good to you can be revolting to others?  My brother-in-law and I don't see eye-to-eye on onions.  He feels they should be abolished from the earth while I just love them and eat them on everything.  Why the difference?

Well, I can't completely answer that question, but I can give you some insight.  If you're up for some reading, I suggest you check out The Physiology of Taste by Tim Jacob.  Very interesting article that talks about taste and how we taste with diagrams and lots of big words.  Have a dictionary handy as you'll need it.

I guess you could compare a person's "taste" with the same mechanism that defines what a person sees as beautiful and ugly.  Why does one person look at a piece of art and see beauty and another person sees ugly?  Scientists seem to think this type of "taste" derives from upbringing and culture.  For example, I'm not a fan of Curry or any super spicy foods, but someone growing up in India or Mexico would love the hot and spicy and in most cases will have a much different tolerance for spicy foods than someone like myself.  So why does my brother-in-law hate onions?  Other than the obvious reason that he is silly, I suspect there was a childhood incident where he had a bad experience with an Onion (maybe mother's milk after she ate a greasy onion filled donair) which programmed his brain to send a negative feeling when he tastes onion.  Or perhaps taste is genetic?  I know personally I can eat almost anything but I find my tastes follow closely with my mother.  I drink Coffee and eat onions (not always at the same time) and so does my mother; my father, hates onions and doesn't drink coffee (doesn't like the taste).  So where down the line does one get the hating onions?

Well, I could go on with examples and theories on why taste is genetics and why it's bad childhood experiences.  The truth is, nobody really knows and it could be a combination of both.  I'll leave that for you to ponder today.

As I mentioned in yesterday's musing, this weekend is Thanksgiving up here in the cold North.  I plan on exercising my taste buds this weekend!

Take care folks, and have a safe weekend.

Cheers,
Alan