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July 10, 2007

Super Taster

Kim_postOn the children's CD NO put out by They Might Be Giants there's a song about John Lee, super taster, a real-life superhero. A man who can't drink coffee or beer for their bitter tastes, but loves sweet treats like ice cream and pie. "John Lee, super taster, tastes more than you do. Everything has a flavor, some flavors are too much." I instantly recognized myself in the song. I am a super taster! As such, I'm very sensitive to strong, bitter tastes and even the slightest hint of hot spices can set me off.

Granted, I come from a home in which the most exotic spice to grace our food was sea salt. When I was in college and overheard some in the dorm cafe ask for pepper, I was stunned. I always thought pepper was on the table just to keep salt company. In my 18 years, I'd never actually seen anyone use it.

Ultimately, my sensitivity to spices is an unfortunate combination of nature and nurture. Unfortunate because DH loves spicy food. On our second date he took me for some exotic cuisine. It was hot and spicy and I couldn't handle it after about two bites. DH was incredibly disappointed in my lack of fortitude; I didn't sleep with him that night either. Frankly, I'm not sure why he even asked me out again.

The other day our family had a lovely trip to Devon Avenue and stopped to eat at Indian Garden. The lunch buffet was about $9 per adult and kids ate free-a great deal. And while the smells were enticing and the food was tasty, I just couldn't hack it. I mostly stuck with the nan (bread) and water.

"Are you okay?" My friend asked midway through the meal, "your face is all red."

"You should feel her nose. It gets really cold when she eats spicy food," volunteered DH as he closed in to touch it. "And when our mom eats spicy food her nose sweats," the boys giddily announced to the entire restaurant.

No one said being a superhero was easy.

Read my published "Super Taster" essay (musings on coffee and kids music) here.  Kim challenges her delicate tastebuds all over Chicagoland and writes about it at Scrambled CAKE, where this post originally appeared. She also muses at Hormone-colored Days. Photo by singhajay 

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