Someone recently asked me if I am a Super Taster, which is someone with high levels of taste perception. Uh, sure. As a consumer and foodservice product judge, I did receive info that helped fine tune my palate towards Super Taster levels. In those weekly three hour judging sessions, I was required to speak and write my thoughts on what was in the food, as well as a product's flavor and tastes. Going without alchohol, coffee, cigs, garlic and other strong foods in the hours or even night before the session made Super Tasting even easier.
Although the training helped me identify ingredients and tastes, there are other ways to become a Super Taster. Get knocked up! Being four months pregnant** has meant that smells and tastes are stronger for me than they have ever been before. Grilled meat smells fill my nose whenever I walk the Miracle Mile stretch on Mission Street. Those meaty smells are in full effect if it's a Friday and the hot dog vendors are out. (It's easy to have a hot dog and finish with a churro on those Fridays). Salt, smoke, and sweet notes are much easier to catch. I seem to be able to taste salt during and throughout a meal, and am using less of it while cooking. It's probably not that the food is saltier, it's that my tongue picks up the presence of salt quicker and sharper.
There are drawbacks, of course. Constant faux bread smells from the Subway at my work's entrance make me irritated throughout the day. Subway's bread always smells overly sweet. It's not even close to what bread should smell (or taste) like. Whiffs of other foods that don't belong together are jarring. Take this afternoon. I was enjoying a post-lunch chocolate chip and milk break at a bakery. Sweet, chocolate-y, baked notes made me smile. For a brief little while. The bakery also makes gyros (weird, huh?), and lamb-y spicy notes suddenly swirled around me as the owner prepared an order. Rather than spit my milk out, I gobbled the last cookie bite and hightailed it outta there.
**This will never turn into a pregnancy or baby blog. Gag! Boring! No way!