Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Bitter Food

It is fascinating how we differ in our perceptions, due to the differing way our senses work.  I am revisiting a post from December 19, 2010, one that has (no pun intended) aged well.

I was reminded the other day about how my spouse finds the smell of paperwhites very pleasant while I find it very unpleasant.  The owner of a Bed and Breakfast we stayed in back in 2010 told me about the fact that some people find that the herb cilantro tastes like soap.

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, as far as food taste?

1. The taste of broccoli 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 just can't eat 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 her 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.  His autistic brother can be persuaded to eat veggies if you sprinkle blue cheese on them.  Go figure.

When I had an aunt living in Iowa, we made trips a couple of times to the Maytag Dairy Farms near Newton, Iowa 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.

I grew up with smoked fish.  It was an ethnic staple for me.  I work with someone who can't even stand the thought of smoked fish.

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?

Are you sensitive to bitter food tastes?


  1. I’m from the smoked fish tradition too. Bagels and lox, a staple in my house. My biggest “I won’t eat that” is oysters.

  2. Your differences with your spouse over food preferences sound just like ours. I tolerate broccoli, but won't touch blue cheese. You and I were "gifted" with extra bitterness sensors on our tongues, acc to an article I read in a science magazine.

  3. My sister has the cilantro distaste. I love it. Not the taste that I think is bitter but the smell of pizza puts me off. As a kid walking home from school everyday past a Pizzeria I used to hold my nose or breath just through my mouth. I still am not a big fan of pizza!

  4. Apparently there's a thing where some people are "super tasters". That is, they taste things that the rest of us do not. But yeah, we all react differently to different flavors.

  5. Fascinating! So many delightful differences. My go-to? Pickled herring. Here's where I admit I LOVE the stuff. As to two of my children and, to date, two of my grandchildren.
    Husby? Not so much! Though his reaction is quite mild compared to the "Eww, gross, you smell like a fish market!" that our second eldest son gets from his spouse! ;)

  6. I remember as a child. I had to drink bitter tea called cerassee. I hated it so much. ugh. I would never do that to my kids. I'd cry when I know they were making that with breakfast.

    And now, all the coca cola drinks taste like toothpaste to me. I have to spit it out. I have no idea how people drink them :)


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