Saturday, May 12, 2012


Due to a medical condition labeled "dysgeusia" or impaired taste, for the last five years I've been unable to enjoy the taste of food like the rest of the world does.  It all tastes wrong, and most of it tastes bad!  Why this problem was inflicted on me I'll never know.  And after the medical world's attention for a while via my PCP and a specialist or two, I was given the word that the most I could hope for was to wake up some day and taste food normally again.  I get tired of talking and thinking about it.  Some tastes I can bear and some I can't.  Eating and cooking is no longer fun but has become a real ordeal.  The sad part is that I can remember what things should taste like.  So today's column is written from this perspective.

There was an interesting article today in the LA Times' "Food and Dining" section written by Jonathan Gold, the paper's restaurant critic.  Since I'm too far away from LA to test his take on new places and new things I do pass on some of his suggestions to my Los Angeles daughter.  But for me and my taste, I can only enjoy reading of the weird things that he, and chefs, too, consider edible.

Take one of today's suggestions:  Try french fries moistened with pickled Italian peppers, pureed ham, and "an unlovely concoction of aioli and whipped pig's brains the house has dubbed "Brainaise." 

Gold reports on other local samplings:  for drinkers, bacon-infused bourbon garnished with fried slivers of pig's ear; eaters can try pig's blood cake with challah, fish-heads and turkey lungs (yum!), a submarine sandwich with long-braised trotters and tongue, and the descriptive "paper-thin slices of raw pork from the famous Iberico de Bellota pigs from Spain, who fatten themselves with acorns in the forests in whch they are allowed to roam."  Gold lets us know that their meat is rich, dense and sharp, with a distinct aftertaste of chestnuts!

And I might add he talks quite convincingly about the "foie gras doughnut" (convincingly for me, anyway, because I have been known at one time to eat foie gras and found it to my liking until I thought about the poor goose).  Seems the doughnut is "round, hot and crisp, dusted with ground peanuts.  One end leaks jam...and the other a loose mild foie gras mousse."  He adds that where jam meets foie gras in the middle is an "extraordinarily good bite."   Still....

Dysgeusia notwithstanding, I admit I am a pantywaist when it comes to thinking about eating strange things.    In New Orleans I ate two raw oysters.  (I'm going to forego the graphics here.)  At Tommy's Sushi in Tustin I ate a shrimp head.  At Benihana's I ate a soft shell crab, which was ok until I accidentally looked at the underside and saw its little legs all folded up neat and tidy, at which point I didn't know whether to throw up or cry (both of which I was close to doing.)  In a fox-hunting area of England (Melton-Mowbray if I remember correctly) I ate pork pie and Stilton cheese - gagged it down is more like it.  And later on down the road from Melton-Mowbray I tried steak and kidney pie, made (I believe) with undiluted urine, which caused me to give up my quest for eating England's regional specialties. 

In the past I have drawn the line at any kind of brains, any kind of snails, and any kind of "fries" - having once been made to sit watching a relative eat "turkey fries" in Caldwell, Kansas (I didn't even know turkeys had fries, city girl that I was) and bull balls in Lawrence, Kansas.  (I don't think that is what they were called, perhaps it was something more genteel but you get the picture.)

With my dysgeusia I needn't bother now of trying to figure out "should I or shouldn't I."  Almost no meat tastes good with my impaired palate.  I happen to like carpaccio and have discovered that because the thin beef has a strong olive oil and intensely flavored capers over it, it goes down very well, and I order it every chance I can get.  I would certainly make it my protein of choice if I could afford it.

At any rate, I truly enjoy reading Jonathan Gold's Saturday food columns.  He's a darn good writer and I feast on every word.  It's a nice way to start a weekend!

1 comment:

Olga said...

I have never heard of distressing. I am not such an adventuresome eater myself. Can't say I was tempted by things like brainaise