I’ve had this food issue for years – I cannot stand metal utensils touching my teeth. I’ve had this little quirk since I was a child. Even just the thought of accidentally biting down on a fork or having a spoon touch my molars makes me feel sick to my stomach. I have a stash of plastic utensils in my drawer at work and I keep a large collection of chopsticks at home.
While we were at a restaurant one night JJ mentioned how embarrassing it was that I asked for chopsticks at all Asian restaurants. He snidely said that people don’t use chopsticks in Thailand (although he had never been there). He seemed to think this was some faux-internationalism I was trying to display to everyone. (Or could it have been that he was embarrassed that I was so much better at it than he was?) I explained my metal utensil dilemma, but he was not convince. I’m not sure JJ could have understood, because I suspect that he is what scientists call a “poor taster”. India has the highest rate of “poor tasters”, or people who have fewer taste buds (fungiform papillae) per quarter inch on their tongue – up to 34% of the population. Additionally, women are much more likely to be “super tasters” than men – 35% of women are “super tasters”, but only 15% of men are.
I used to chalk this strange chopstick preference of mine up to Korean conditioning in my youth. However, after I started taking medication for Epilepsy I realized that a lot of it was associated with Synesthesia. Asian food not only taste better to me when I eat it with chopsticks, it is more relaxing. Eating Indian food is almost like having sex in public when I can lick a little Masala from my fingers.
Your brain is just as important in taste preferences as your tongue. JJ also brought me back the most lovely pair of metal wine goblets from India. His home town is somewhat famous for their metal work and they are elegantly beautiful. I have used them only once, but they are a cherished item. It was a most thoughtful gift. I could not bare to tell him that I cannot stand the feel of metal touching my lips and the thought of mixing wine a and metal makes me cringe.
Although my synesthesia is now mostly gone, my fungiform papillae are just fine. Metal in my mouth still makes me queezy and I still love eating with wooden utensils or with my hands, even on meds. It turns out that like many other Synethetic experiences, the food experience is just an over-the-top version of something that is pretty true for everyone:
Your utensil could have an impact on your eating experience, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Oxford found that the color of a utensil, kind of utensil and material of a utensil can all factor into how food tastes or feels in our mouths.
“Subtly changing eating implements and tableware can affect how pleasurable, or filling, food appears,” study researcher Dr. Vanessa Harrar said in a statement. The findings could be used to “help control eating patterns such as portion size or how much salt is added to food. Alternatively, people may be able to make better food choices if their ingrained color associations are disrupted by less constant advertising and packaging.” – the Huffington Post
You can read the entire article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/eating-utensils-taste_n_3498425.html
Pistachio Stuffed Dates with Coconut
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
Pinch of coarse salt
16 dates, pitted
1 tablespoon toasted unsweetened shredded coconut
In a food processor, puree pistachios until a thick paste forms, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Spoon mixture into dates. Top with coconut.