It’s time to retrain my taste buds away from sweet. I’ve realized it’s all that I taste most of the time.
I like chocolate, I like cake, milk (it’s sweet!) and pasta and fruit and bread and…all the foods I eat these days fall into the sweet category.
What about bitter, sour, salty and umami? All should be present for a well rounded taste. So where did I go wrong? Even sweets these days are being salted or paired with salty sides–bacon on donuts anyone?
Like last month’s salad series, borne out of nutritional necessity, getting to know more about flavours from a biological point-of-view should be required learning. Remember as a child when we learned all about the human body? We were shown diagrams outlining the tongue’s different taste zones, each with the predilection to sense particular flavour characteristics.
We learned that a spoonful of sugar tastes sweet and that sucking on a lemon should be done at your peril lest you want to deal with aching cheeks and a full body shiver. But the only bitter taste I remember experiencing was how my thumb tasted before bed, blech! after a day of picking dandelions in the garden.
In the now discredited flavour map, it indicates that the tip of the tongue tastes the sweet, further back, along the sides, catches salty, next behind that is sour (no wonder you can feel it in the back of your cheeks when you even think about sucking on a lemon) and the back of the tongue, in the middle, recognizes bitter. Does this mean I am the laziest of tasters, relying only on the tip of my tongue? Or am I just missing out on a whole world of different flavour options, because I am happy to accept the first taste my tongue recognizes?
And accurate map or not, does our tongue’s ability to detect different types of flavours mean that these should all be present in our diet? Or is it simply a way of categorizing taste differences, with the onus on us to learn which ones are healthy and safe to consume and which tastes signify danger?
Maybe I’m making too much of this, but while I like to think of myself as an adventurous eater, I’ve realized that I eat many of the same types of foods over and over, most of which, on closer inspection, fall under the sweet category.
Imagine all that I am missing out on! Not the least of which is a healthy balance of flavours and foods in my diet. I think it’s high time to take sweet out of the equation, or at the very least, push it to the back of the cabinet and say, Well hello there salty and bitter, I’m Melanie and it’s a pleasure to meet you! What do you do exactly? And where do I put you? How? When?
My taste buds have travelled the world but I have the feeling that this is going to be their most exotic and exciting adventure yet. All aboard! First stop? The unused quadrants of my tongue! Want to join me?
This is where I need your help.
I need your most savoury, salty, sour, bitter, spicy recipes. No sweetness allowed! Can you help? As hard as I try, I end up falling back on old favourites. Pasta, potatoes, baked treats. Sure, great for every now and then, but I need to retrain my taste buds to crave a savoury cheese plate at the end of a meal instead of cheesecake, ya know?