My recent visit to New Orleans, and the subsequent on-line discussions about charbroiled oysters, has led me to ponder why I like one food or flavor over another. I realize it all comes down to personal taste, but what factors decide what I like and what I don’t? One of the few advantages of being seventy-plus, is that you have time for such nonsense, so I’ve been giving it some thought. Here are my conclusions:
A quick google of “taste” resulted in an avalanche of technical information, all of which was interesting and educational. What it all boiled down to, was simple. Humans can distinguish five basic flavors: sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness and umami. Okay, I’m not going to fake it and act as if I had any idea just what in the hell umami is—I didn’t. As it turns out, umami is best described as savory or meaty. It’s the deep satisfying taste in cheese and soy sauce.
As we all know, some acids stimulate the taste of sourness, and sugar stimulates sweetness. Salt is self-explanatory, and bitterness is stimulated by the chemicals in coffee and those little thingies that separate the halves of nuts. Umami is stimulated by Mono Sodium Glutamate. Add texture, heat, cold and appearance to the mix, and we know how a person determines his or hers personal preferences. Another factor that plays a large part, in my case, is the loss of taste buds due to advancing age.
All of us have foods that we particularly love. I’m pretty sure Foie Gras is on the menu in heaven each day, as are Vicksburg Tomato sandwiches and my grandmother’s black roux gumbo. The charcoal seared fat on the rim of a porterhouse is high on my list of scrumptiousness, along with lobster and good bleu cheese. I love thin, chicken broth based soups, and pepper and brandy soaked liver pate is to kill for. In the sweets area, give me key lime pie and hot apple pie. Dark bitter chocolate is wonderfully tasty to me. Bacon, ham, sausage and streak-o-lean top my breakfast meat, and I love eggs, fried or scrambled, as long as they are runny.
Like most folks, I have a few foods that I just can’t stand. Anchovies lead the list. The first person to eat an anchovy had to be on the edge of starvation. Closely following anchovies, are pine nuts. I don’t want anything that has ever been in the same room as an anchovy or a pine nut. There are certain pungent cheeses that I can’t take. Once, after dinner at an allegedly fine restaurant in Memphis, we were served what was described as “stinky cheese,” and it smelled like an open sewer on an August day in Juarez.
I don’t like stewy soups, and for the life of me, I cannot fathom combining broccoli and cheese in any fashion. I like iceberg lettuce, Boston or even romaine, but spare me from any of the Roundup-ready weeds such as arugula, mesclun, mizuna or purslane. I like the original Hidden Valley ranch dressing that you mix up at home, and I think it’s insane to soak a salad in vinegar –red wine, or otherwise.
There are textures that I find revolting, such as tongue. My one bite of tongue in France felt just like biting my own tongue. As a child, I had to watch my grandfather eat brains and eggs for breakfast. I’m happy to say, I never tried it, but I don’t like many or the organs of animals, and brains and testicles lead the list. I have never heard of anyone who thought chitterlings smelled good, and buttermilk makes me gag. There are many other foods that I love, such as homemade mayonnaise, Clista’s pot roast, and fried chicken, and the truth is, that I like many more foods than not. Bon Appetite.
As we all know, everyone has an opinion about food, football, religion and politics, and most of us find it difficult to be tolerant of our fellow man’s preferences, especially if they don’t agree with ours. I doubt that any of my regular readers have any doubt about my football allegiance or my food preferences. As far as religion goes, I’m an Episcopalian, and nobody, including me, has any idea what we believe in. I call it that great denomination without any rules.
That leaves politics, and I choose to be an observer, rather than a participant. Alabama politics are a wonder to behold. I am very fortunate to live in Opelika, which has the best city administration anyone could ask for. The city is run efficiently, and the elected officials are competent and dedicated. The State officials—not so much. We have a U.S. Senator, who, by his own ads, tells us that he spends every day opposing Barak Obama. That doesn’t leave much time for trying to do something positive, does it?
Our Attorney General can’t seem to grasp the concept that Alabama is part of a larger political unit, and is not run by the Ayatollahs. The speaker of the Alabama House is embroiled in a fight for his political life, and with the help of a friendly court, has avoided an ethics trial for over a year. Again, this doesn’t leave a lot of time for positive action. All of this reminds me of what Winston Churchill said:
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
The food image is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to en.wikipedia.org
Categories: As I Like It!