Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Soapiness of Cilantro, the Bitterness of Brocolli Rabe

It is fascinating how we differ in our perceptions, due to the differing way our senses work.

I had blogged a few days ago about how my spouse finds the smell of paperwhites very pleasant while I find it very unpleasant.  The owner of a B&B we stayed in last year commented, and told me about the fact that some people find that the herb cilantro tastes like soap.

Sure enough, there are various discussions online, including an involved discussion on Chowhound.

Neither my spouse nor I find that cilantro tastes like soap but again, we have two reactions to the smell.  My husband rarely uses cilantro in his food preparation because he can't stand the odor.  On the other hand, I have no problem with it. (I do find the taste somewhat complex, but the first time I tried it it smelled to me like dirty socks would taste, if you were crazy enough to eat one.  It did eventually grow on me.)

So what else do my spouse and I differ on, food wise?

1. Brocolli rabe, a staple of my spouse's childhood (I'm of a totally different ethnic group) is heavenly to spouse, but I can't stand it.  To me it is so bitter I can't stand it. Even when it is prepared in a way that reduces the bitterness, I still taste it.  I'm not the only one; one of my spouses' cousins actually "feel guilty" about disliking this ethnic staple.

2.  Strong, mold-type cheeses such as bleu cheese and gorgonzola:  again, I find these so bitter I can't stand them.  My spouse loves them.  In fact my mother in law loves them so much she will put them into salad and I've begged her to serve the cheese on the side.  Sometimes she remembers and sometimes she doesn't.

When I had an aunt living in Iowa, we made trips a couple of times to the Maytag Dairy Farms near Newton, IA just so spouse could buy their blue cheese.  This was before their blue cheese became a "foodie classic".  But it is no classic cheese for me.

There is one other classic reaction to food that I should mention, which is the smell of people's "pee" after eating certain foods.  The classic food causing that is asparagus, but there are some other foods that cause pee to smell unpleasant and/or strong.  I'm told that asparagus affects everyone's pee, but not everyone can smell it.  Fortunately, because both of us love asparagus, neither of us smell it.

Since foods are chemical in nature, should any of this be surprising?

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