Sunday, October 5, 2008

Taste Bud Burnout

"Food is, delightfully, an area of licensed sensuality, of physical delight which will, with luck and enduring taste buds, last our life long." — Antonia Till

My taste buds are dying.

Tired of only warm or bland, they screamed for every jar of hot peppers all the way down the condiments store aisle. My IBS gurgled, "If you buy it, I'll make you pay."

How did my taste buds woo an incorrigible pepper-hater? A month in Thailand tainted my tasting habits. Fried fragrant rice. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Duck and fresh fish. Spicy chili paste. Hot peppers, garlic and spicy ginger. They raced through my gastrointestinal track like an Olympian rushing to win the gold, they also seduced my appetite for zing. A trip to a Thai pharmacy solved the intestinal rage problem. I bought every charcoal tablet on their shelves. They laughed.

Silly American.

I enrolled in a cooking school. Every morning three tiny red peppers lay beside our cooking utensils. With fear and trepidation, I tried only half of one pepper on the first day. By the end of the class? I'd doubled my pepper consumption to a whopping—one.

When I returned to the States, everything I ate for a month tasted, well, tasteless. Fast food flavored on the dull side of salty, seemed flat. Store bought fresh fruits and vegetables? Unripe. Blah. Bleh! I missed duck and fresh fish. I craved flavors exploding in my mouth, leaving a satisfying intense aftertaste. Someone suggested taking vitamin C and zinc to restore my taste buds. I craved Chipotle Mexican Grill's burrito with extra green peppers and red onions and salsa and Panda Express Orange Chicken. Then I discovered Caravelle sweet chilli sauce, the secret ingredient in orange chicken.

Resurrecting My Taste Sensations

My savory and sour sides felt bitter, demanding equal nibble time with sweet and salty. I searched for tart and spicy recipes. Just reading them awakened my taste buds. Often when I try a new recipe, it fails to meet my taste buds' expectations. Sigh. After a few spicy adjustments, it's worth keeping. Here are some simple ways I super-stimulate my taste buds.

  • Add ginger, garlic, vegetables, and fried rice to scrambled eggs.
  • Add a tablespoon or two of cinnamon to sweeten oatmeal.
  • Substitute 2 Tablespoons of salsa instead of salad dressing to a romaine lettuce salad.
  • Use sea salt instead of table salt on steak.
  • Sprinkle oregano on green peppers and red onion, and stir fry.
  • Sprinkle dill on steamed salmon.
  • Mix equal parts of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pour over romaine lettuce sprinkled with feta or blue cheese.
  • Sprinkle chicken with Lawry's lemon pepper and seasoning salt, then grill on the barbeque.
  • Add five spice and cinnamon to banana bread or oatmeal cookie batter.
  • Put fresh garlic and fresh rosemary to mashed potatoes.
  • Marinate meat in garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and brown sugar.
  • Steam all vegetables without salt. Rediscover their flavor.
  • Steam green beans covered in crushed garlic and virgin olive oil.
  • Brine poultry in garlic and kosher salt.
  • Insert garlic, lime and ginger into pork roast, then cook on a rotisserie so the flavors and juices permeate the meat.
  • Insert garlic (lots) into prime rib, and then pack salt around it. Marinate it for 24 hours, and then cook on a rotisserie.
  • Roast fresh tomatoes, red onion, yellow and red peppers, and fresh basil in the oven for several hours.

Make Your Tongue Smile

Tingle those taste buds. Life is far too short at my age to not to eat food that excites my senses. And I plan to make every bite count.