Jeff Berger: Supertaster


Apparently I’m a Supertaster. For those that aren’t familiar, Supertasters are people with heightened and/or additional taste buds, and are able to detect flavors other’s can’t. Don’t worry too much about it, apparently it’s mostly stuff in the ‘tastes terrible’ column. I don’t think there’s any transcendental truffle-foie gras-sauternes-ice cream that only I can taste.

I took a little test I grabbed online here, which I’m guessing was a small solution of propylthiouracil soaked onto a small piece of paper (thank you Wikipedia). Put the paper on my tongue, and it tasted downright terrible. Like licking the inside barrel of a recently fired pistol, making out with a 12 day old corpse, and eating vegemite all at once. Metalic, chemical, downright putrid. The taste wouldn’t cease either, even after gargling with some cream, eating some eggs, some jello, and waiting a couple hours (it did subside a bit, but it hung around like crazy.

I did the only logical thing I could think of, I immediately woke my wife and made her take the test. She groggily threw the paper on her tongue, resigned to being woken up from an afternoon slumber by a frantic husband insisting she put paper in her mouth. I’ve conditioned her well.

After a few seconds, she just stared at me. “It tastes like…   paper?” She couldn’t taste a thing. For years we have had a passive aggressive war going on in the kitchen. She spices her food with the blind fury of a sadomasochistic salt lick rolling in a field of hot peppers and onions (cajun) whereas I cook things in an understated, delicate, refined fashion (bland). Now I have an excuse.

Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry for not eating anything but combinations of meat, cheese, bread and tomatoes for the first 18 or so years of my life. Apparently as a Supertaster things like spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage were far too overwhelming for my pallet (it wasn’t your cooking, I swear. Seriously).

I’m not entirely sure this is a good thing or not as far as wine tasting goes. In one regard I guess I taste more components of a wine that many other people. But in general all that extra tasting falls into the bitter/poison identification category so I’m worried that wines other people enjoy with ease will turn to ash in my mouth. I hope it means a heightened sensation of tasting vs other people (can’t really jump into someone else’s skin and try their tongue out). Simply based on my wife’s penchant for loving to drink nearly any wine I put in front of her (except older wine curiously enough), I’m going to extrapolate that I do indeed taste a myriad rainbow of flavors in that small glass of port that others do not perceive. I’ll try and convey them as best I can. I guess the pressure is on.

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