Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Our Evolving Taste Buds

On the cover of today's Personal Journal section of The Wall Street Journal is the article "A Taste for Hotter, Mintier, Fruitier: The Increased Craving for Intense Flavors Suggests That the American Palate is Changing." The article talks about how our taste buds have evolved since America's post-war era, with the help of TV chefs from Julia Child to Emeril Lagasse. As Americans, we have an evolving desire for more flavors, and our spice cabinets have grown significantly over the years to satisfy our yearning taste buds.

I couldn't agree more. This is, after all, what this whole blog is about. I've been traveling the world since I was seven years old. My first trip outside the U.S. was to Cancun, then to India, where I traveled for five weeks and celebrated my eighth birthday. Since then I've hit every continent except South America and Antarctica, and in my travels I learned much about culture, religion, language, history, and food. It all ties together, but as I got older, I began to appreciate cuisine much more.

I grew up eating predominantly healthy food (thanks to my mom), my grandmother's Okie cooking, authentic Indian food, and every version of Mexican food imaginable. I also got to try delicious sauces and cheeses in Paris, tapas in Mallorca, eland and impala in Kenya, couscous and bastilla in Morocco, anzacs in Brisbane, bratwurst and knackwurst with sauerkraut in Heidelberg, white beans with tuna and oil-drenched steak in Florence, and a Goan fish curry with coconut rice in Kerala I craved like nothing else I'd ever eaten.

After developing a very eclectic palate, my taste buds changed yet again. I have vitiligo, which I'm sure one day will be known as the Michael Jackson disease. It's an auto-immune virus that slowly kills off my melanin cells. That means I'm slowly turning albino and have been since I was born. It's not harmful or contagious, and I'm not at risk for anything. But I know a fair amount of homeopaths, and they have encouraged me since age seven to try to dispel my vitiligo. Nearly twenty years later, it's done nothing but advance steadily. But two good friends of mine are still doing what they can to help with my overall health, and they revealed to me last fall that a medicine they gave me a couple years ago drastically altered my taste buds. Now I need more flavor than the average person.

That is why I created this blog. There are many other cooks, writers, and gluten and dairy free bloggers other than myself out there who have much to contribute to our community. But my contribution is for those out there that are like myself. Part of it is the tastes I crave, part of it is my body's biology. But either way, I am one of those Americans who needs more flavor in their food.

Sadly, this is also why there are often large lapses in between my recipe posts. Developing food with adequate flavor that truly satisfies the appetite is a bit tricky. I find this article encouraging, however. I also believe that as people around the world become closer to each other and discover more about one other, our respective societies will thrive from it. Fusing different cultures and cuisines can have truly amazing effects, and I am proud to take part in this evolution. And if you are reading this blog, I believe that you are as well.

No comments: