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Supertasters Unite!

I want to hear more from supertasters, what you really dislike and really like and most importantly how you became a chowhound despite being very sensitive to bitterness etc. If you're just really picky please do not respond. I have a supertaster in my house who is not a chowhound but who is interested broadening culinary horizons but it's been difficult. Thanks.

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  1. I've always wondered why I and other members of my family so dislike the taste of fresh coriander/cilantro, while others adore it. I recently attended a workshop given by Harold McGee, and posed the question to him. It turns out that there is a genetic component involved with how we perceive flavours.

    I forget the scientific explanation, but I think what he said is that some people are born with certain papillae on their tongues that others are not born with, and this results in their tasting certain foods as soapy or excessively bitter, etc.

    But don't quote me on this explanation. My memory ain't what it used to be.

    2 Replies
    1. re: FlavoursGal

      I attend a seminar given by Lawry's at a chef's convention on the physiology of taste. It was fascinating! They gave you a plate with sections, and in each section was something to put in your mouth to taste. Some were pieces of paper soaked in something to make them bitter or sweet, other things were fresh herbs. Everyone was instructed to taste a certain numbered square and then write down what we thought it tasted like. Everyone was different. What some thought was bitter, didn't bother someone else, or had no taste to them.

      FlavoursGal, I think you are correct.

      1. re: FlavoursGal

        The perception of soapiness is either a sensitivity to aldehyde C-12 (Dodecanal, lauric) and/or due to some varieties of cilantro that contain a bit more of this soapy aldehyde than others.

        It is not related to taste buds or the neural relays in each taste bud that transmit flavor information to the brain.

      2. http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/sn_a...

        I'd guess I'm a medium taster, but I do have a strange (to me) reaction to raw broccoli. I don't mind the taste, it's not too bitter, but after just a few bites, it's as though my throat closes, and the thought of eating more nauseates me. This is mitigated if I eat it with large amounts of dip, and I love cooked broccoli. Green tea sometimes provokes the same reaction.

        2 Replies
        1. re: JGrey

          The science of taste perception has seen many advances since that 1997 article. There have been many new discoveries since then on: the physiology of taste, the brain's taste processing center, the neural relays from each taste bud for each flavor, the smell/taste interface, the brain's "database" of flavor memory and so on.

          Bear in mind that a sensitivity to bitterness is not a sensitivity to tastes overall, merely a sensitivity to bitterness. And, an ability to taste PROP strips is only an ability to taste PROP strips and says little about bitterness sensitivity or taste acuity. We may have a hypersensitivity to some flavors, and a hyposensitivity to other flavors: each of us is a mixed bag.

          1. re: JGrey

            It sounds more like an allergy to me. You should probably avoid raw broccoli and green tea. Your throat closing is a dangerous symptom.

          2. the ability to smell is actually more important than taste. "super-sniffers" can perceive up to 10,000 different aromas, but the average person tops out at a few thousand. women have more sensitivity to smells than do men. i'm a sommelier and have a very keen sense of smell.

            as far as tasting, everybody has the same number of tastebuds, but sensitivity to different foods vary. i've heard too that it depends on when babies are exposed to flavors as to whether as an adult they prefer salty, sweet, sour or bitter.

            i'm confused as to why your daughter is having trouble though. we all have likes and dislikes. the more she tries, the further along she'll get.

            2 Replies
            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Not true about everyone having the same number of tastebuds - look around online, some have more than others...the 'test' for supertasters is to use blue dye and count according to the research done at Yale:

              1. re: krissywats

                The number of taste buds means little in the overall scheme of taste physiology. More important is the ability of the neural relays in each taste bud to transmit info to the brain, and the working status of the brain's taste processing center. The relays can down-regulate (transmit less infomation when repeatedly exposed to spicy foods, for example) or up-regulate. Also important: the olfactory-taste interface and how well that is working.

                Taste buds are like cell phones and making cell calls. Even if there are lots of cell phones (lots of taste buds) if the cell phones' batteries are low or dead and so the phones have little power (less information transmitted to the brain by the taste relays), or if the tower is down (the brain's processing center), few or no calls are going through (reduced or no taste perception).

            2. I'm a supertaster and I find I vastly prefer 'umami' tastes to vegetal ones, if that helps. So if there's tofu, it needs to be smoked, marinated in a sauce which has a lot of 'low' flavor notes -- something that gets rid of the high, more acidic edges. (I also have synaesthesia, which is why writing these comments was difficult for me -- tastes have definite shapes and colours for me. It makes trying to describe fish and chips very interesting.)

              6 Replies
              1. re: Selkie

                That's intriguing. I'd love to hear your description.

                1. re: Selkie

                  I hope you've read Cytowic's "The Man Who Tasted Shapes" from the late 1980s. It helped explain my synaesthesia to me (though I don't taste shapes: I just read in color and, to a lesser extent, hear in color). And I wonder if I am a supertaster, at least partly, because I am senstive to things that are too (1) sweet (2) sour (3) hot (capcaisin), especially in combination. My sensory inputs just get overwhelmed. And of course I have the palate sensitivity to cilantro.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    I am amazed. To read and hear in color. Your world must be so much more interesting than mine.

                    What is music like? And how about different books? Or different words?

                    1. re: Main Line Tracey

                      Well, I can't tell that it's more interesting, just more information. Which can be more tiring after a while, it seems, but it's also handy for memory because it gives more dimensions of information to organize and navigate memory.

                      But, back to the topic, the element it has in common with supertasting is that one is getting more inputs per unit, as it were, and it can have odd effects.

                  2. re: Selkie

                    Please post more on your experiences with synaesthesia - I think there are more of us that taste colors and hear shapes when we are tasting than we know.

                    1. re: Selkie

                      If you want there is a really interesting book about synthesia and it describes this particular form of synthesis. It is called the Frog that Croaked Blue.

                    2. I am a super taster and I guess a super smeller. Cannot tolerate saccharin so diet soda from the fountain is often a no-no. A whiff of artificial vanilla and the cookie/cake/whatever is inedible. It may have made me a good cook but it's kind of a pain in the ass.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: lintygmom

                        lol, i don't see where not liking/avoiding diet soda and crap cookies is a problem! stuff that doesn't smell appealing TO ME just doesn't go in my mouth.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          My husband often gets a diet Coke/Pepsi and I want a sip to cut through grease (like when we get cheesesteaks) but the saccharine gags me. He cannot tell if there is saccharine or splenda or ??? Basically I like water with food but an occasional sip of cola is useful sometimes.

                          1. re: lintygmom

                            It's not saccharine anymore; it's aspartame. Both have nasty aftertastes but they're different.

                            Even splenda has some aftertaste, to me at least. One year at Christmas my mom (who has totally changed her way of eating and cut out a lot of the stuff she fed me and my sister growing up) made cranberry sauce with splenda, and I just almost disowned her.

                            1. re: revsharkie

                              No, they still use saccharin in fountain soda syrups (not the canned kind but the kind you get from machines or in many restaurants). Saccharin is more stable than aspartame so they mix the two and then the syrup lasts longer than just aspartame.

                              1. re: lintygmom

                                Didn't know that. I thought saccharine had been banned (although that doesn't explain why you can still get those horrible pink packets). But I don't drink diet sodas from cans, bottles, or fountain, because I can't abide the taste of it. Then again, I'm starting to lose my taste for just about all pop because I can't stand how the corn syrup in it coats my mouth.

                                1. re: revsharkie

                                  You're thinking of cyclamate, I believe.

                              2. re: revsharkie

                                I can't stand artificial sweeteners, either. I had hopes for Splenda, which were immediately dashed on first taste - it was like the Disney version of sugar! Ghastly. Am I a supertaster? I don't know; maybe all those folks who like Splenda are simply NON-tasters!

                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  I can't stand anything with Splenda, either. I've discovered another sugar substitute called erythritol, which, to me, tastes like sugar. It's available in natural foods stores.

                                  1. re: FlavoursGal

                                    I used to be totally fine with Splenda (and all the other sweeteners). I switched to Stevia, and now all the others taste terrible to me - especially Sweet & Low. Go figure.

                          2. re: lintygmom

                            I am pretty musch a super sniffer. My M-I-L is not. I was cooking in her kitchen and I needed some cotton twine to tie a roast and asked her for some. She pulled a little container out of the drawer and handed me some lengths of twine and asked if that would do. The twine smelled strongly of some sort of perfume and when I asked her what had been in that box she commented on my ability to smell that fragrance, she could not deyect it but the box had held dusting powder. She never washed it out before storing the twine in it. I washed the twine well before trussing that roast. I always have to run some citrus peels down her disposer when we are there. It smells pretty bad but she has gotten used to it and does not notice it at all.

                            1. re: lintygmom

                              Very interesting! I'm a supertaster and have stopped drinking soft drinks of any kind, but when I did, there was nothing worse than being brought the wrong drink. I drank normal Dr Pepper, and getting a Diet Coke was just torture. Often I would notice from the smell that it was the wrong drink, but if I was distracted and took a sip ...

                              I'm not a picky eater and never have been ... always liked mushrooms and asparagus, and my favorite ice cream flavors as a child (coffee and pistachio) are ones I still quite like.

                              Broccoli is a little difficult, but I recently discover that if I boil rather than steam it, it is much more palatable. I have difficulty with things people say have 'no taste,' like tofu, cauliflower, and the like. I will not eat cauliflower ... I'll try tofu, but have never yet met a preparation that sends me back for more.

                              I do like umami, as another poster noted. I also like deep, complex flavors. Simple certainly has its place, but with many things I cook, just salt and pepper doesn't give me what I'm looking for.

                            2. I first found out that I was a "supertaster" when I used an ex-boyfriend's toothpaste. It was the absolute worst thing I'd ever tasted and I thought he was playing a trick on me. Evidently, this company had put out the toothpaste without having a supertaster on the panel. The toothpaste was recalled and given to the employees for free. (This was in Europe)

                              Nowadays, I have a system. It sounds horrible but my husband tastes a lot of stuff for me first. He's learned through trial and error what I'll be able to handle and what's going to just send me over the edge.

                              We've also worked on my tolerance levels by feeding me small pieces of food that I find objectionable and preparing them in different fashions to see if there is one method that is better than another.

                              We do tend to avoid all "chemical" types of food and almost everything from a box or tin. Of course, going over to someone else's house can be troublesome if they heavily season their food.

                              Having said all that, for all the pitfalls there are to being a supertaster - I'd hate to give up the symphony that is chocolate.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: librarian

                                Not a day goes by that I do not eat chocolate (unless I'm quite sick). Sometimes if I have the flu or something like that, I lose my taste for chocolate. That's how I know it's very, very bad ...

                              2. Okay, when I'm talking about supertasters, I do not mean super sniffers. I do not mean people who are picky or don't like saccharin. I mean people who are especially sensitive to bitter, sour, and other tastes, so much so that it interferes with their enjoyment of things like broccoli, certain other veg, coffee, tea, dark cholate, etc. So far, practically none of the responses are relevant to this.

                                Yes smelling is a big component of taste, but bitterness is a taste not a smell. So if you're great at smelling things, this is not relevant, sorry.

                                15 Replies
                                1. re: choctastic

                                  for what it's worth, it's the extreme bitterness of saccharine and of artificial vanilla I perceive when others don't. I also taste bitter in broccoli if it's there yet love the bitterness of Brussels sprouts. It's not smell, it's taste. More tastebuds in the bitter area of the tongue. Also in the sweet--used to hate hard sweets because of this.

                                  1. re: lintygmom

                                    Yes ... I perceive a number of things (like many frostings) as too sweet, and will either put them on the side of my plate, or not eat them at all. I always thought those sugar straws were just awful ...

                                    Just wanted to note that you can be a supertaster and not be turned off by dark chocolate. It has to be over 80% (unless the chocolate is just not well made) for me to think it's too bitter/too much. Except for some bitter things, I embrace the avalanche of taste.

                                    I have never been able to drink non-ruby red grapefruit juice. I could not understand how other people didn't perceive it as torture, until I learned I was a supertaster.

                                  2. re: choctastic

                                    there are 4 different "zones" on the tongue. if bitterness is an unpleasant taste for your daughter, then she (and presumably you) knows that. where is the rule that says people have to eat everything? if she finds something overwhelming or offensive, then treat it like an allergy and avoid it.

                                    along with my sense of smell, my taste receptors are in over-drive compared to most. (i think it's related--you apparently don't care for the connection.) so, yeah, my reaction to certain things may seem exagerrated, but a little tact goes a long way.

                                    for example, i hate the smell/taste/texture of milk. so this means custards, ice creams, cottage cheese, etc. i gag thinking about drinking it. so... i don't. it doesn't adversely affect my life.

                                    perhaps none of us are correctly understanding your query.

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      "there are 4 different "zones" on the tongue"

                                      hotoynoodle, it's interesting to note that Harold McGee says that scientific research shows that the bitter/salty/sweet/sour zones are a fallacy.

                                      1. re: FlavoursGal

                                        i love mcgee, and i've always been dubious about the zones, lol. but those are the four basic flavor categories. different people react differently.

                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                          There are five basic tastes identified now, and we have a flavor relay for each of those tastes in every single little taste bud. When the relays were discovered, it pretty much ruled out the zones on the tongue theory.

                                      2. re: hotoynoodle

                                        yeah i don't think you understand my query. for one, I wasn't talking about my daughter since I don't have one yet you keep mentioning this daughter.

                                        1. re: choctastic

                                          don't know why i leapt to the conclusion of a daughter. you mentioned somebody in your house, sounds like (to me) with food issues, so i assumed daughter. i apologize. obviously, i'm not the only one who isn't understanding where you're trying to go here...

                                      3. re: choctastic

                                        I've never considered myself a supertaster, but I don't like most fruit because I detest anything sour. The folks make fruit pies and talk about how wonderful they are when they're "tart." If they're "tart" I won't eat them. But I have no trouble with vegetables, even broccoli and the occasional brussels sprout.

                                        1. re: choctastic

                                          I've got that bitterness issue. I'd never considered myself a supertaster, but the Spouse swears I am. I spent most of my life being berated for not ever eating veggies. I worked in a cooking school about a dozen years ago and one day tasted radicchio for the first time. Everyone thought it was marvelous. I had to go find something to rinse my mouth with. Suddenly the lightbulb went off over my head. I couldn't tolerate the bitterness and most vegetables lean towards the bitter side. At that point I realized that I had to retry vegetables again with an eye to their flavor profile. Although vegetables are still not a big favorite there are now a few that I will very happily eat, such as asparagus, artichokes, cabbage, and most salad greens. It's just trial and error.

                                          Oddly enough though, I adore bitter chocolate and will gleefuly scarf down 90% dark if I can get it. Go fig.

                                          And jillp, I thought I was the only one who thought that all goat cheese tasted intolerably musty, sort of the way an old mildewy house smells. Nice to know I'm not alone.

                                          1. re: rockycat

                                            I'm relieved, also, to know there are other people who have the same reaction. What I find really interesting is that I can often handle goat cheese if it's cooked, but otherwise the smell turns my stomach.

                                            1. re: jillp

                                              When I was little I wouldn't eat any cheese but cream cheese because all the rest smelled like feet.

                                            2. re: rockycat

                                              Often times I enjoy bitter vegetables because the bitterness somehow makes it that much more irresitible. That does not mean I enjoy bitterness by itself. For example, sweet orange marmalade is SOOO boring compared to bitter orange marmalade but you won't catch me eating orange rind by itself. Just as spicyness really is a painful sensation, but somehow it makes the food that much more tasty. How do I know if I am a super taster or a normal taster? Some people are simply less willing to tolerate undesirable sensations. I like the feel of cold wind on my skin in the winter, I find it stimulating and refreshing. That does not mean I don't find it slightly painful. Others prefer to stay in doors in an overheated room, that I find tiring and irritating. Something happened to me while I had food poisoning. When I was well enough to eat I was shocked by the taste of food. Everything tasted so bitter that I really much rather be hungry and basically ate nothing for days. My theory is that everything IS bitter, but perhaps while i was sick, the stomach acid had damage my ability to taste sweetness. Without the proper balance, the bitterness stood out in all foods and basically made everything taste too horrible to eat. I especially remember cheese and chicken soup to taste so horrible it was almost enough to make me vomit. One thing was not quite as bad was banana.

                                            3. re: choctastic

                                              I only discovered a couple of years ago, in my early fifties, that I'm probably a supertaster, have always been a picky eater, consider myself a "foodie". I could always taste things my boyfriend couldn't but figured since he was an ex-smoker that he had killed his taste buds. Then when my elderly parents couldn't taste the rancidity in the butter, that they never refrigerated, I chalked it up to their age. But it was when my 15-year-old niece couldn't smell the rancid flour, and the resulting rancid taste, when we were making gnocchi, that I got suspicious and went online. Supertasting explained it all! However, I LOVE broccoli and dark roast coffee, which goes against what I'm reading. Brown roast coffee literally makes me nauseous. And I also need my coffee and tea to be very strong. I don't appreciate bitter olive oil though. I also can't tolerate the usual amounts of sugar in a dessert. I always cut the sugar in half of any recipe. I love chocolate but it has to be dark. I can't tolerate low quality foods. I have a hard time with restaurants because they're generally crappy (to me). I have a big love for most all vegetables but a low love for most proteins. I love grapefruit. I rarely enjoy anything pasta, pesto saves it for me at least. Oh yeah, another oddity that I have, I cannot drink wine WITH a meal. I drink it before the meal only, once any food has touched my mouth, it renders the taste of the wine disgusting. Really curious if anyone else has experienced this? So, that's my story, very interested in reading everyone else's also. Forgot something, I also love all things sour.

                                              1. re: lisalemon

                                                About the wine? Absolutely. I don't care for wine much at all, unless is it a sweet dessert wine, but I can usually take a few sips of a white or mild red before a meal. Never, ever with food. It tastes horrible to me.

                                                Can't do grapefruit at all, though, due to the bitterness. Although I do like Fresca once in a while because it reminds me of my mother. :-)

                                            4. I am not a supertaster insofar as the usual over-awareness of bitter flavors is concerned; my problem is that I can taste fats. For example, pie crust made from lard has a superior texture to crust made using just butter, but I can taste the lard. Unless it's used for a savory pie, the flavor is jarring.

                                              It took me years to realize that this was why I have such a hard time enjoying goat and sheep's milk cheeses. What other people perceive as an attractive tang tastes and smells like vomit to me.

                                              During the era when coconut oil was commonly used in commercial baked goods, I could smell and taste that, too, and it bothered me.

                                              I think this heightened awareness is part of why it took me so long to become a Chowhound.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: jillp

                                                i could always smell and taste that coconut oil -- yuk. my mom thought i was nuts.

                                                1. re: jillp

                                                  The latest info is that the perception of fat is yet another separate taste perception -- not a separate flavor, but a distinct perceptual ability.

                                                2. My first inkling that I was perhaps "different" in terms of perceiving bitterness was in 10th grade biology class. We were given a strip of paper to chew on... most of the class couldn't taste a thing... I spat it out because it was BITTER!!

                                                  I love "chowish" food, but can't eat really dark chocolate - too bitter. Same goes for coffee, unless it is REALLY smooth, properly roasted and made... I can drink strong espresso w/o sugar in France or Italy, but usually have to put milk and sugar in it here to coat my tongue and cut the bitterness. Actually, I've pretty much given up on coffee...

                                                  I can only take radicchio in small doses... also too bitter for me.

                                                  I even had to change my flour because it was processed with a chemical that had a bitter taste... and when I tasted raw cookie dough or pastry crust, I could taste the bitter.

                                                  So, what do I do? Avoid things that are truly bitter (dark chocolate, coffee, lemon pith, etc). I don't have any other serious "aversions" other than to fake/chemical foods (margarine, that odious "tropical" iced tea, etc), so I am fine with most "whole" (ie, no processed) foods.

                                                  So how did I become a chowhound despite being a supertaster (of bitter)? Well, luckily, bitter is not in THAT many cuisines... as long as you use the non-processed stuff (I don't like the fake/chemical taste of a lot of processed food - not to mention that it isn't as healthy as homemade). My mom cooked everything from scratch, so I didn't grow up with an "open the can" or "make brownies from a box" mentality. My idea of a quick snack is an apple & some cheddar cheese. Or sourdough toast with real (Plugra) butter on it. I am very adventurous with food, and will try pretty much anything... and it takes at least 3 tastes for me to completely reject something.

                                                  Anyway, good luck with your supertaster in the house!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: WLA_gal

                                                    I remember that paper thing in eighth-grade science class. THere were only two or three of us who could taste it. I was one of them. But bitter doesn't really bother me. My chocolate has to be dark--although I got some of that 85% and it took awhile for the taste to grow on me, and I don't know that I'd buy it again.

                                                    1. re: WLA_gal

                                                      very interesting. so what are you favorite cuisines?

                                                    2. I read recently that supertasters have more tastebuds than non-supertasters and you can test for it by putting dye on your tongue, blotting it on a paper towel, and actually counting the dots. I've never tried it.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Glencora

                                                        Yup. NY Times from 1997:

                                                        "In looking at people's tongues with a special blue dye, researchers have found that supertasters have as many as 1,100 taste buds per square centimeter of tongue, while nontasters have as few as 11 buds per square centimeter.

                                                        ''I am a nontaster,'' Dr. Bartoshuk said. ''The dye on my tongue produces a pink and blue polka-dot pattern, with blue dots indicating a taste bud. A supertaster's tongue has dense blue patches.'' "


                                                        According to the article, most people are normal tasters, and the world is seasoned for them. Then there are the nontasters and the supertasters.

                                                        Besides bitter, according to the article, supertasters are more sensitive to the texture of fats, being able to tell the difference between skim all the way to heavy cream plus oil on the tongue. Nontasters couldn't taste the difference.

                                                        There are diet implications (fruits and veggies can taste over-strong), and temp implications (supertasters prefer things tepid). Asians tend to be supertasters. Sweet, salty, bitter, sour, temperature, texture, spiciness, alcohol- all are more intense for supertasters, and can be unpleasant.

                                                        ""Each taste bud feeds information into two types of nerves, Dr. Bartoshuk said. One, the chorda tympani, a branch of the facial nerve, sends taste signals to the brain for processing. A second, the trigeminal nerve, senses pain, temperature and touch.

                                                        ''This is really critical,'' Dr. Bartoshuk said. ''It tells us that supertasters are superfeelers and superpain-perceivers, at least with their tongues.'' "

                                                        1. re: Spoony Bard

                                                          yes exactly. (deleted for redundancy) i haven't done the "stick out your tongue" test to check on this though.

                                                          1. re: Spoony Bard

                                                            How interesting about the fat perception ... this must be why some people can tolerate skim milk (not me). I do find fat just really ... luscious.

                                                        2. supertaster here - hate most veggies, although as I get older (and lose tastebuds as we all do) I grow to like a few more. Have always hated the bitter ones: broccoli, bitter greens, etc. i'm extremely sensitive to bitter flavors in things: I ordered noodles with a black bean sauce the other day and couldn't eat them because of the bitter taste - no one else at the table could taste it at all. I also can't drink coffee because of this or even eat ice cream with coffee flavoring or espresso in my mousse! Love tea but it has to be sweetened.

                                                          I can also taste chemicals in processed foods but that might have to do as much with going organic as it does the supertaster thing. Like oreos taste REALLY chemically to me but didn't as a kid.

                                                          Love desserts - mostly really rich desserts...not so much really sweet.

                                                          Love eating in general - have a girlfriend that is an undertaster and she is really jealous of that....to her food is just 'eh', except when I cook for her and really load up on flavors and layering...I can occasionally get an 'ooh' or 'aah' out of her.

                                                          Sensitivity to mouthfeel is another issue altogether and I have no idea if there is a correlation with supertasters and supermouthfeelers(TM!) - but I love rich foods with super fat mouthfeel.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: krissywats

                                                            How are you with spicy foods? I'm trying to figure if my son is a supertaster. That would explain a lot. He won't eat much, but he does like spicy salsa. He'll eat raw carrots and snowpeas, but that's pretty much it for veggies. He likes fruit if it's perfectly ripe and not sour. How do you feel about fruit?

                                                            1. re: Glencora

                                                              I love fruit, mostly, although I'm not a huge fan of sour. As a child the only veggie I would eat was the inoffensive green bean and I'm a total wuss with spicy - I try and it's just too painful for me and completely unpleasant. I can't even drink soda because the carbonation hurts my mouth and throat.

                                                              As an interesting side note - Uta Hagen (famous actress and teacher) talks in her book about certain personality types (specifically actors like myself) being hypersensitive to the world around them in every way. Considering that my husband calls me 'princess in the pea' I think Uta's ideas apply. I always assumed my aversion to 'spicy' had to do with sensitivity in general rather than being a supertaster - but i'm not sure if there are actually more pain receptors in my tongue as part of tastebuds. So it would make sense to me (If i'm right about the pain receptors) that he could be a supertaster and still like spicy.

                                                          2. very interesting. i don't know if the two are related but i thought i read that some supertasters had an aversion to extra fatty/creamy foods. my SO is inconsistent in this regard. SO had to change the milk from 2% to 1% because the creaminess was too much in the higher fat milk. Yet cheesecake disappears in our house in a flash. also brownies and ice cream.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: choctastic

                                                              I use a splash of whole milk in coffee because I can't pour little enough half and half. That said, I'm using it because of the creaminess it offers, but I want very little. Cheesecake, however... I'm with your SO.

                                                              I think it's moreabout balance for some of us. I'll use half and half in more acidic or bitter coffee to create a balance.

                                                            2. Oh, that is interesting. I'm a supertaster (lots of tastebuds) and I love creamy food. Especially if it's bland and high-fat, like ice cream. However, I hate fatty meat and gag if I accidentally eat some. I despise bitter foods and seafood and also have major issues with texture. I can't tolerate mushrooms, zucchini, the evilness that is okra - basically anything that is slimy.

                                                              Our tastebuds die off as we get older, and I've noticed that I can eat some things that I couldn't eat as a kid. Mainly pungent foods like onions and a few slimy things like avocado and eggplant. I think I will always have an aversion to bitter things.

                                                              Oh, and I don't like red wine that has a lot of tannens. It makes my mouth pucker!

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: hercules q. einstein

                                                                Yeah - i forgot to mention that. I pretty much don't do alcohol at all. Red wine isn't pleasant for me in any way and white wine has a 'throw up' aftertaste to me. I wish I did love it.

                                                                I DO love late harvest dessert wines and moscato d'astis - not the super sweet, thick desserts wines like sauternes but ice wines and similar.

                                                                Hard liquor i just can't do at all. Has never tasted pleasant to me.

                                                                1. re: hercules q. einstein

                                                                  Excellent point--I don't do red wine at all for the same reason. Must be white. Can't tolerate the taste of beer either, and it took me years to acquire my taste for wine. I used to drink only the sweet stuff (Bailey's, Kahlua, etc.).

                                                                2. I had a friend of mine who I think was a supertaster (can't test him now, he's dead). He always wanted the blandest possible food. Just butter and salt (never tomato sauces) on his spaghetti, absolutely no spices of any kind other than salt, no herbs, no aromatics like onion or garlic, hamburgers totally plain (just patty and bun). Cheese was ok if it was American or bland cheese mix from boxed macaroni and cheese, but even mildly sharp cheddar was too much, let alone (say) smoked gouda. He also never ate vegetables or soup. Needless to say he rarely went to restaurants, which as he said (somewhat tongue in cheek) "contaminated" their food. "Stinky chinese" was right out. It was always a thrill finding a restaurant we both liked, since I like very strongly spiced food (Morton's cajun ribeye here I come) and crazy levels of spicy heat. Mostly we "compromised" on burger joints, though he could be convinced to eat steak if it was plain and flavorless.

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                    Rarely going to restaurants seems so sad! My son is starting to avoid going to his friends' houses at mealtimes. At school on pizza day he eats the carrots. And his has very little interest in restaurants. I hate the fact that his sensitivity might affect his social life. You were nice to compromise with your friend. Not everyone would.

                                                                    1. re: Glencora

                                                                      If he's a supertaster, I'm surprised he'll eat spicy salsa. Of course, how do you define spicy? For me, most commercial salsa brands other than Pace have weak levels of heat, even when they claim to be medium or hot. Pace's Medium is on the edge for most people, and their Hot (my favorite) smokes it (so to speak). If you haven't already, try them yourself sometime, I think Pace's salsas have superior flavor plus you can really test your son's tolerance for heat.

                                                                      1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                        yeah, each tastebud is wrapped by a pain receptor so supertasters are supposed to be much more sensitive to spicy foods. my SO for instance can't even take mild heat which irritated me for the longest time because I was like, "are you kidding? it's not even remotely hot!"

                                                                        1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                          I eat mild to medium spicy ... I definitely dislike too much spice as the pain interferes with my ability to taste the food.

                                                                      2. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                        I think he was just addicted to bland ;)

                                                                        1. As a supertaster, I find I can tolerate a lot of spiciness but not bitter herbal flavors eg. aniseed and licorice. Then again, I ate a lot of spicy food growing up so that may have had an impact

                                                                          1. I don't know if I'm a supertaster (I suspect not) but my mother is, and I've got more than my fair share of tastebuds too, if not nearly so many as her... I've always HATED bitter or sour foods. I tried to cultivate a taste for wine but I could only ever drink very mild sweetish white wine, port etc. Spirits are FOUL and the tannin in red wine feels like it turns the inside of my mouth into a shrivelled up prune... coffee smells good but I can't drink the stuff however many times I try it - I used to drink very weak tea but I don't even like that any more. I like sweetness but in small doses. I don't drink much soft drink or eat 'diet' anything - I've never tasted a diet product that didn't leave a horrible aftertaste in my mouth.
                                                                            Cilantro is a little soapy but also good - I love the smell of it. I HATE fennel/aniseed/dill... I can't handle much heat in my food - it makes the insides of my ears itch and burn. If I had my way I'd use all the wonderful aromatic spices and leave the chilli out of the food entirely.
                                                                            Chocolate is wonderful stuff as long as it has sugar in it - I tasted some 90% cocoa chocolate and it was hideously bitter.
                                                                            I HATE eggplant, brusselsprouts and most 'fancy' lettuce because they're all far too bitter. Orange juice made from crushed oranges is foul because it has all the bitter oils and pith in it.
                                                                            Greasy or high-fat foods feel like they're caking my mouth in oil. Ick. And a lot of cheeses are inedible - I had a slice of bruschetta tonight and it looked okay but when I took a bite it tasted like dirty gymsocks... Ick!

                                                                            (Boy, this list makes me sound like the world's biggest fusspot! But there are plenty of things that I love to eat...)

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Kajikit

                                                                              An old post, but you are a supertaster. Completely agree with the anise/licorice thing--too awful for words. I will eat fennel seed in sausage, but have never tried fennel itself.

                                                                              1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                This is an interesting thread. I also hate those bitter lettuces like raddicchio,orange juice,fennel anise drinks, amaretto but I like almonds (but they make my mouth itch). I also can't stand the smell of wintergreen, fake cinnamon and fake vanilla. Wintergreen is abhorrent to me, I can smell it a mile away and it makes me feel sick.

                                                                              2. Indeed! My mother could hardly get me to eat 5 slices of zucchini growing up...I would NOT eat asparagus AT ALL, even if it meant early to be bed and no dessert. I didn't have a brussels sprout until I was 30, and even now I will only eat them roasted, and then I have a limit of 5. Supertaster, indeed!

                                                                                1. Since quitting smoking I cannot believe how sweet fruits are !!! No wonder people gain weight,they finally can taste.

                                                                                  1. Why do you have so many pickey people??Why can't you eat something?Most likely you have not tried it,or you don't like the looks of it?Come on,if you are on this site I am sure you like food right ????????????Try something new.You may discover you now like that.Me- example dislike for oilves.NOW CAN'T GET ENOUGH-like-em stuffed.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: clean plate

                                                                                      I'm assuming your reply is meant to be tongue in cheek, as it were. I can't imagine someone from this board perpetuating that old "Clean your plate, there are starving children in China" line of thinking otherwise.

                                                                                      Taste is highly subjective for any number of reasons, genetics included. Why say "picky" at all? Why not say that the person has a "highly refined palate?" Sounds much less judgemental, no? Is it snobby? Sure! But it's also presumptious to assume that just because one person likes a food item, everyone else will also.

                                                                                      Trying something "new" has nothing to do with the subject at hand. I can't take the taste of many "old" foods because they strike my palate differently. Coffee must have milk and sugar, I can't tolerate the taste of any wine, and most veggies are far too bitter to eat unless they've been sauced to kingdom come. What's the common thread here? Bitterness. I'm overly sensitive to it.

                                                                                      New? Put almost anything on my plate and I'll try it at least once. I just can't promise a second time, though.

                                                                                      1. re: rockycat

                                                                                        I'm with you. Wine tastes like vomit to me and I wish with all my heart it didn't.

                                                                                        I was labelled 'picky' as a kid and honestly, it hurt because that sounds like I'm choosing it. Could I choose to eat things I really hate and that often cause me actual physical pain? Sure - but why would I?

                                                                                        People that don't get that level of sensitivity often dismiss it and that's very frustrating.

                                                                                        I like 'refined palate' by the way. Thankfully most of the people in my life get it and realize I'm not just being a brat who won't eat food. I love food - why on god's green earth would I ever want to avoid it unless there is good reason?

                                                                                    2. There are actually genetic differences in how we taste and smell. Something may taste slightly bitter to me, but be extremely bitter to you.

                                                                                      Taste also varies based on experience, lifestyle and age. I also began tasting (and smelling) everything more intensely when I quit smoking.

                                                                                      1. I am a supertaster.
                                                                                        I have been told that I have the culinary taste of a child.
                                                                                        Foods that I cannot eat without an emergancy trip to the bathroom are
                                                                                        -brussel sprouts
                                                                                        -cooked cabbage
                                                                                        -cooked tomatoes
                                                                                        -butter (melted on toast surprisingly fine)
                                                                                        -preserved fruit
                                                                                        -unsweetened cream
                                                                                        -unsweetened milk
                                                                                        -cottage cheese

                                                                                        Foods that I don't like -
                                                                                        -black tea
                                                                                        -raisins, fruit peel and sultanas(the latter are fine if they are vacuum cleaned i.e Sunbeam mini boxes, but not in any food)
                                                                                        -glace cherries,cherry flavoured anything
                                                                                        -tonic water
                                                                                        -dark chocolate
                                                                                        -water chestnuts
                                                                                        -certain types of lettuce

                                                                                        Concerning fruit, I have only just started being able to eat oranges (Im 35) and jonathan apples. As a child I could eat peaches, nectarines, apricots and bananas as long as they were firm with no blemishes. The only apples I would eat were grannies.
                                                                                        Texture is extremely important - anything slimy is a no-go.All fruit and vegetables need to be firm.
                                                                                        As an adult I have found ways to enjoy certain vegetables - e.g pumpkin sliced very finely and roasted with a bit of oil.Roasting gives the vegetable a sweeter taste.
                                                                                        Also I am now able to eat mushrooms, by frying them with butter or oil.
                                                                                        Adding to all this, I am a vegetarian...my family always get a hoot from telling people that I am a "vegetarian who doesn't like vegetables".
                                                                                        I used to love meat,chicken and seafood but stopped eating them for ethical reasons, so the exclusion of meat from my diet isn't due to taste.
                                                                                        Tomatoe sauce (ketchup) is a god-send. I have since discovered sweet chilli sauce which I use on practically everything.
                                                                                        I also have a habit of adding pineapple in many dishes - it sweetens the dish considerably.
                                                                                        I have begun being able to have soup - as long as it is extremely smooth. As a child, I had a very bad experience with my mums homemade tomato soup...
                                                                                        Like soup, custard needs to be extremely smooth.
                                                                                        I love potatoes in any form, corn, pasta, bread,and most cheeses. I have discovered a way to like swiss cheese - put salt on it.
                                                                                        I love sweets - cake, icecream,milkshakes,pastry and white chocolate.
                                                                                        I also love eggs - quiche is a big favourite.
                                                                                        I hate zucchini and yoghurt, but I love zucchini cake and yoghurt cake!!
                                                                                        I can eat small amounts of roasted pumpkin but tonloads of pumpkin pie!!

                                                                                        I hope this helps you!!

                                                                                        1. I'm with all of you in many ways. Though my tongue has a borderline amount of buds to qualify me as a supertaster, I have no doubt that I am.

                                                                                          As a student of evolutionary anthropology, I take a keen interest in discussions like this one. :)

                                                                                          In the spirit of hearing from more folk, here's my low down. Mom is a supersniffer and dad probably is too (mom gets headaches if I wear any scents around her). Dad is a wine maker, and a great one, which attests to his palate and sniffing senses. I must have inherited alleles in sniffing and tasting from both of them.

                                                                                          I recently did a PROP (bitter) test at school and yep, I'm a taster. The paper barely hit my tongue and I had a severe "yucky face" reaction and took it away. My wife, however, had the paper in her mouth for 30 secs. or so before she tasted the bitter (guess which one of us eats brussel sprouts).

                                                                                          My taste experience is extremely intense and starts with my smell experience, of course. I often can avoid putting something in my mouth that I won't like by smelling it. Why eat it if it smells nasty?

                                                                                          Things that most people think I'm crazy not to like, I think they're crazy TO like. I.e. mushrooms... um.... they taste and smell like crap. And cheese... again, smells and tastes like mold. Fish, ug.... I can barely stand the smell and YES, it ALL tastes fishy. How many times have I heard, "then it wasn't prepared properly, or it wasn't fresh, or it wasn't the right fish"? Too many. Ocean smells like seaweed/fish, and I don't really want to eat it. I can't even hang out at a stinky beach for too long.

                                                                                          Interestingly, I LOVE umami, but I probably would find I prefer the bovine, poultry and nut occurrences, as opposed to the fish ones. I do love a good ceasar, but there's a fine line between "good" and "oh geez, I taste yucky anchovies".

                                                                                          Foods I love? Fat (i.e. chicken skin, nice and crispy...) Seeds (sunflower). Lettuce with olive oil and vinegar with salt. I pretty much live on meat and lettuce; with occasional rice (only white, and must be cooked with garlic). Potatoes taste good, but they make me sleepy.

                                                                                          The coolest thing about being a supertaster/sniffer, is the amusement that my wife gets when she cooks me something and I don't like it. Just like a 2 year old baby, I just spit it out... can't help it.

                                                                                          The 2nd coolest thing is I do say I can cook up a storm. My cuisine is very simple, but everyone ends up loving it and praising the dish. My opinion is that they're so hot for stimulation with their taste buds (and thus condiment happy), they have lost appreciation for the pure, simple things in life. These are the things I love because they do not send my mouth/nose into sensory overload.

                                                                                          Oh, and the time I picked out 6 out of 9 ingredients for some guy's homemade wine was pretty neat. :)

                                                                                          Here's to eating simply and GOOD! :)

                                                                                          1. I'm a supertaster. I've found that I am not inclined to eat a lot of fruit raw; something about the unmellowed acidity and bitterness of some raw fruit is really hard for me to get past. Nectarines and plums are nice for a bite only.

                                                                                            It's funny, but I actually have a taste for some bitter greens. It's a hurts-so-good thing, kind of like eating really spicy thai. I love that quality combined with sweet (like my favorite, broccoli raab with golden raisins).

                                                                                            I was raised to drink respectable beer--it was a point of pride in my family. It took me about 6 years to learn to drink a beer, of any kind. The bitterness hurt. I have an easier time with some bitter greens.

                                                                                            I really can't get past the smell/taste of lamb and chicken fat, and beef raised on corn. Ugh. I'm very sensitive to fat. I adore my raw jersey milk, and can pick out all kinds of flavors. When I can get my second and third choices for milk, I have specific uses in mind for them, because of their flavors. (I'm spoiled in a dairy county and buying local.)

                                                                                            I think it's a practice thing for me. I made myself learn to appreciate beer. It was possible, but it took ages. Same thing with red wine. Now I love it, but I needed repeat exposure to a variety of flavors. I still poach or bake a lot of fruit.

                                                                                            Edited to add-- I pick up mold really easily, well before it's visible. I wish I didn't!

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Vetter

                                                                                              yeah, totally agree on beer! i had to learn to love it (and boy, how i do now, but only lagers; no hoppy taste, and only room temp, cold beer is sharper and more bitter).

                                                                                              and with you on the mold thing too... and meat that's going bad, i can taste it early on and folks think i'm nuts! :)

                                                                                              also with the lamb... EWWW.... gamey and gross.

                                                                                              good to hear that raw milk is yummy, i've been encouraged to try it and may give it a go (it's supposed to be easier to process, i'm lactose intolerant too... oh goodie).

                                                                                              and fruit... yuck. i only like bananas and some apples.

                                                                                              1. re: pickypickypicky

                                                                                                Raw milk is great ... but. Frequently it comes from an uncontrolled environment, and that's good ... but depending on what the cows have been eating, it can be heaven, or it can be ... something you want to send back. Good to prepare yourself for the variability.

                                                                                            2. Someone with a selective hypersensitivity to bitterness is not a supertaster. A supertaster is hypersensitive to all tastes, not just bitterness.

                                                                                              Indeed, supertasters are often fine with bitterness because even while they perceive what may be an off-putting degree of bitterness, they also perceive all the other tastes that operate in concert with the bitterness and mollify it, thereby making it tolerable. Those selectively sensitive to bitterness taste only bitterness, or it is the dominant and repellant perception. Not so with supertasters.

                                                                                              Regarding taste buds, the number of taste buds per square centimeter is important, but more important is the signaling quality of the neural relays in each taste bud that transmit information to the brain. These relays can operate with great speed and precision or sluggishly and with a poor transmittal percentage. You can have a great cell phone (or many cell phones!) but a poor signal, in which case little data is transmitted and the number of cell phones irrelevant.

                                                                                              1. I am, perhaps, a supertaster. I'm not bitter-sensitive, as I eat all of the things the other posters, above, say that they can't tolerate. I've never had a PROP test (but after reading this would love to get one).

                                                                                                My friends and colleagues in the food business have always been impressed with the way I can detect seasonings in foods/sauces that're "secret ingredients," and my general ability to de-construct what I'm eating and discuss flavors.

                                                                                                Here's my problem: I can't drink coffee and eat anything with tomato in it. My palate becomes a sour-tasting, screwed up mess for hours after I dare have that combination. At a burger joint, if I'm having coffee, I don't put ketchup on anything. BLT sandwich? No coffee. At an Italian restaurant, I have to be certain my palate's clear of any tomato sauce, and then, I only order espresso after the meal, not regular coffee.

                                                                                                I've just learned to live with this peculiar affliction. I *love* coffee, and I *love* tomatoes -- but in my world, nary the 'twain shall meet.

                                                                                                1. Clearly there are subsets within the set of super tasters. According to a PROP test, I am a super taster, but I don't share all the reported characteristics. It would be interesting if someone were to put together a compilation of the classes of preferences of supertasters. I'm particularly interested in the wine preferences of supertasters.

                                                                                                  With respect to the foods most often referred to in articles on super tasters, the following are my preferences (that come to mind at the moment).

                                                                                                  - broccoli
                                                                                                  - brussel sprouts
                                                                                                  - green peppers
                                                                                                  - grapefruit
                                                                                                  - black coffee
                                                                                                  - saccharin
                                                                                                  - aspartame

                                                                                                  - coffee with cream
                                                                                                  - dark chocolate
                                                                                                  - fatty foods
                                                                                                  - creamy foods
                                                                                                  - cream ales

                                                                                                  tolerable but not likable:
                                                                                                  - arugula
                                                                                                  - radicchio
                                                                                                  - beer
                                                                                                  - Splenda

                                                                                                  Some ambitious person could start a chart listing the various foods mentioned in the literature, and super tasters could categorize each as intolerable, tolerable, and likable.

                                                                                                  1. I made some delicious chicken noodle soup last week, to which I added kale at the end. It was okay the first time I ate it, but the next day, ECHHHHHHH. It was nasty, in a sour/bitter way. So I googled around and wound up on wiki's page on supertasters. And practically every food I dislike is on the list of things supertasters don't like.

                                                                                                    Hate, won't eat:
                                                                                                    Brussels sprouts
                                                                                                    green tea
                                                                                                    soy products

                                                                                                    can eat, with reservations:
                                                                                                    spinach (only a little bit, or my teeth "curdle" and I have to brush and brush and brush)
                                                                                                    coffee (I used to like it; since 2003, after a long illness, I just don't like the taste of it)
                                                                                                    grapefruit juice (red only; white grapefruit is on the "hate" list)
                                                                                                    carbonation in drinks such as in soda, beer, etc. (San Pellegrino)

                                                                                                    The only things missing are raw onion and hard-boiled eggs.

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                      That list seems more like an "I don't like bitter" list. I don't like any of them either, but I'm pretty sure I'm not a supertaster because I like extremely spicy food (both in heat and flavor), which no supertaster of my acquaintance could stand.

                                                                                                      I don't think San Pellegrino tastes anything like sodas, it's much more bitter. A good root beer, that's divine.

                                                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                          I managed to build up tolerance to capsacin so I can eat spicy now. Chillies have so much flavor that is not coming from the spicy capsacin, I just had to get to the point where I could tolerate the heat to experience the other flavors. I am a total Foodie :) I cannot seem to get used to bitter or acidic, so maybe the other poster was on to something, that there can be different supertaster profiles. It does seem that the bitter thing gets all of us.

                                                                                                    2. I, too have problems with artificial sweeteners, lard in sweet pies, chemicals in foods, and here's one I haven't seen here yet: I can't stand foods made with aluminium baking powder. I can really taste the aluminium, and thus buy aluminium-free BP. I ate only the blandest of foods as a child and was extremely sensitive to food smells. I eat lots of different things now, but still don't care for extremely "strong" foods; anchovy needs to be buried (anything strongly fishy is too much), horseradish and mustard need to be kept in the background as well. I've grown to like some spicy and sour tastes, but they are a huge experience in the mouth! I don't know if I am (or was; I'm in my fifties) a supertaster, but signs point in that direction.

                                                                                                      1. So my whole life, I've always been known to be a picky eater. I would barely eat anything my mom ever made. There's also always been fights between me and my mom about certain foods like celery and lettuce. I can ALWAYS taste it and she always can't. but I can't stand vegetables except for a few. I only eat tomatoes (raw, but can't stand cooked) potatoes(usually with salt and/or cheese...or even cheesey garlic) zucchini (sauteed with salt and pepper) and broccoli (boiled in seriously salted water). i HATE onions and won't eat certain things because it has it in there...but i can take onion powder.

                                                                                                        As for fruits, I love several. I like fuji apples, bananas, canned peaches, pears, grapes, strawberries and probably a few more. Last time i tried a grapefruit....it was sooooo gross! No amount of sugar could fix it.

                                                                                                        I won't go near coffee or teas, beer, white wines, and 99% of red wines. I do like dark chocolate, but can only do it in small doses...or i'll start to feel sick.

                                                                                                        I hate fatty meats. As a child, i wouldn't eat red meat. Recently I started eating burgers and steaks.

                                                                                                        Also, this might sound strange, but minty things tend to burn my tongue. I also have a geographical tongue...which might help in that. so toothpastes are difficult for me. Sweet things can also cause some pain in my mouth.

                                                                                                        so eating in restaurants is such a challenge for me. I usually have to look over menus several times just to find ONE thing i'll eat. then I typically have to customize it. Typically no onions, peppers, pr veggies in general. It has become very difficult for my family to find places to eat because of me. And as I get older, I tend to like even less stuff. So it is actually a bit of a challenge to me. Plus I can't stand most processed foods now. I used to love all those fruit snacks as a kid, but they taste like artificial chemicals now.

                                                                                                        So I'm not sure if i'm picky, supertaster, or what. If anyone has any advise, that would be great. Thanks!

                                                                                                        1. This has been a very interesting thread, as I now suspect that my dad may be a supertaster. He gets the cilantro soap taste (so sad, I love cilantro), and he also has a hard time with onions and certain vegetables. My mom has been trying to get him to eat healthier foods, but it has been a struggle.

                                                                                                          I've noticed that it doesn't work to "hide" offending vegetables in dishes (unfortunately). What does work is asking why a food tastes bad, and then trying to find a happy medium. For example, my dad is okay with the milder taste of parsley and shallots. It might be harder to be a supertaster and a chowhound, but it is definitely possible to branch out a bit from blander food.

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: caseyjo

                                                                                                            Onions were a huge issue for me growing up. They could NOT be hidden. Cilantro used to be a problem, but I kept trying and now I love it. Raw onions are still tough for me, but I can enjoy them under certain circumstances.

                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                              I cannot eat raw onions. They just taste nasty to me. And I guarantee you, Sandy, you do not want to be around me if I do (in salsa, say).

                                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                I like raw onion (perhaps an acquired taste), but prefer the sweet ones, or green. Certainly not every onion is good raw. Red Rockets, perhaps not ...

                                                                                                          2. I'm a certified supertaster (I got tested in the Yale labl) & wonder if you've introduced your supertaster (& yourself) to the joys of miracle fruit. This little berry from west Africa--available in tablet form online as mberryb & usually available as tablets & sometimes frozen berries at Garden of Eden--binds to the taste receptors on the tongue (for an hour or so) and turns sour into sweet & mellows some bitterness. Strawberries taste like powdered sugar. Lime is a key lime tart. If your supertaster can't bear most coffee (neither can I), try freshly roasted, freshly ground Costa Rican made in an Aero-Press or Chemex (paper filters reduce bitterness). If bitter greens are an issue, try gently sauteing leeks and fennel in butter before tossing in some broccoli di rape & cooking until the greens wilt. Young or grown-up, supertasters should be encouraged to expand their range but never made to feel failed if their body rebels. Please post progresss reports.... Luck! Nancy

                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: nancyw

                                                                                                              <<<Young or grown-up, supertasters should be encouraged to expand their range>>>

                                                                                                              Why? There's so much food out there that I like, why would I want to eat something that tastes bad to me?

                                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                I am a supertaster and also a really adventurous eater, but acquiring certain tastes can be a lot of work. The only thing I can think of that I really kept after was acquiring a taste for white wine. I knew beer was a non-starter, and there are so many places where a full bar isn't available that I knew I had to do something (it's too damn much trouble to travel with your own bar). A undertaster may not be missing that much by experiencing only a narrow range, but a supertaster really is. As long as a supertaster isn't operating out of fear and is really enjoying food, I imagine there's not a problem.

                                                                                                                1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                  I'm not sure I understand you. Do you mean that you keep eating food you don't like, in the hope that you will eventually come to like it?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                    I'm asking the same question.

                                                                                                                    It's true that some foods/wines/spirits we can develop a taste for. But how long should we spend acquiring a taste for something we do not initially like?

                                                                                                                    Some foods/wines/spirits are so revolting to some tasters there is no way they could ever develop a liking. Should they then try? Why?

                                                                                                                    Kids acquiring a taste for vegetables, like broccoli. As adults, they may like it, or not.
                                                                                                                    Foiegras acquiring a taste for white wine -- did you like it a little and then more?
                                                                                                                    Me acquiring a taste for scotch -- will not happen, I've tried

                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                      No, I don't think I liked it at all, but I wasn't revolted by it as I am by beer. I still don't drink red wine (if there's nothing else, maybe I'll have a few sips), but I quite like Chardonnay now. I drink other white wine, but I wish it were more like Chardonnay :) Apparently I developed my taste very specifically.

                                                                                                                      I didn't realize the alcohol thing was a supertaster thing until I read this thread. I just got really tired of carting my own alcohol around, and being caught by surprise at yet another function/restaurant (this is the Bible belt) without a full bar. (Before I started drinking wine, I'd drink sweet drinks.) I decided something had to give.

                                                                                                                      No, Scotch is vile. Hard to understand how that can be anyone's drink of choice.

                                                                                                                      1. re: foiegras


                                                                                                                        Thanks for your response. Would you mind taking a little time and answering my questions. I'd appreciate it.


                                                                                                              2. I don’t drink alcohol of any kind. The sour taste is too intense and overpowers any other flavors to me. I can barely get down a small glass of Riesling or plum wine without gagging, which really disappoints my boyfriend, who would love to go to wine and cheese tastings. Even some grape juice is too sour.
                                                                                                                I don’t know if alcohol is an acquired taste, but I don’t have the patience to waste money trying to “acquire” the taste. It does make dinners out less expensive!

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: nutz1225

                                                                                                                  I suspected for many years that I was a supertaster, and now that Ive studied the actual definition, I'm sure of it. Mom was a less than creative cook, and I found most of what she made for us boring. One clue came very early -- as a toddler my parents gave me a wedge of lemon, expecting the usual screwed-up face; instead, I loved it and asked for more. My epiphany came around the age of 10, when I went someplace with friends for hamburgers and mine came with raw onions on it, something I had never tasted ... suddenly I couldn't get enough. Contrary to some lists, I love good coffee. I still have issues with cooked vegetables, especially beans, but its more of a texture issue, as I love lots of things raw. When I find a food that I enjoy I simply can't get enough of it. Life (and the bathroom scale) have taught me that portion control must be a constant in my life.

                                                                                                                2. Just wanted to note something you never want to do with a supertaster child ... wash her mouth out with soap. Even my mother figured that out the first time she did it ;)

                                                                                                                  I noticed several posts mentioning increased 'chemical' tastes with age. I've noticed this too (with Spam). Other clues indicate their recipe has changed, so I'm not sure if it's them, or me. But totally interesting that we've observed the same thing separately.

                                                                                                                  1. Not sure that I would typify myself as a "super taster," or "super smeller," but will say that I can dissect elements in food to a very great degree. The same for wines.

                                                                                                                    I also have a wonderful memory for tastes and smells, and can usually pull the elements apart, and relate some sensory memory to each. Maybe I read too much Faulkner in my youth?

                                                                                                                    Almost any aroma, or taste, whether with wine, or food, and my memory kicks into overdrive. I almost see videos from the past, in my mind. "Taste in color," or "taste shapes," well I am not sure, but all it takes is a good whiff, or taste, and I am often mentally transported to another time, and another place. In some instances, I can recount stories of those aromas, or tastes, back to my childhood.

                                                                                                                    What does that qualify me for? Serious analysis, maybe? OTOH, I can often cite dates, and even the events, where I tasted similar, down to the background music playing.


                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                      Now that's a wonderful sensual memory. Thanks for the post, Bill.

                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                        I call this kind of memory eidetic. My own is very similar to Bill's -- not only can I pull up the "picture" of the event, but I can pan up and down, press "play" and hear the conversations and music. My brothers have the same ability -- we do not try to remember this way; we just do. One odd thing, when I smell wine and focus intently, I do get a blurry visual display, and cannot hear or see any normal input during that time. It's as if those brain processing centers shut down during those brief moments.

                                                                                                                        Part of the flavor perception stuff, though, is just training and repeated exposure to subtleties.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                        I would call that a photographic memory for taste and smell ;)

                                                                                                                        Georgia O'Keeffe did several paintings of music, which made me think she was probably a synesthete.

                                                                                                                        Here's a list of well-known synesthetes (including Marilyn Monroe and Stevie Wonder): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_...

                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                          Bill I totally understand you! Whenever I travel, whether for pleasure or work, I always remember the food. I love to dissect the flavors as well. Whenever I create a recipe, I will do it and re-do it dozens of times until it has just the right flavor profile I was looking for. Then hopefully I wrote it down well enough; my recipes tend to look like a grocery list. I have got to get better at that; I'm getting more and more requests for my recipes. I'm so organized everywhere in my life except my cooking!

                                                                                                                        2. This is such an old thread...but what the heck. I am a supertaster and the no. 1 food I cannot even tolerate in my mouth for one second is olives (yet olive oil is okay). I've read a lot about being a supertaster and feel I am one and qualified to say many of the above posts from people saying what they don't like indicates they are picky eaters and not bonafide supertasters. Unless you are a supertaster you cannot possibly image the non-food-like repulsion that occurs when you eat a food on the list. It's like poison your body must reject. It's not a positive thing, believe me. I only found this thread because I was googling recipes for supertasters. So many things taste bad if I think about it hard enough. It's very complicated. I love cilantro and spicy foods...cofee's delicious with milk added and a cold-brewed coffee is even more tolerable. Hops are out. Certain brassica family taste bad but are edible, however, none of these has the effect of olives. Even something that touched an olive is horrific. Believe me, I love food and try all kinds of things and am not picky, even though it sounds like it.

                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: gazeskyward

                                                                                                                            You might have a selective sensitivity to olives, or the aldehyde that makes the taste of olives disagreeable to some folks.

                                                                                                                            1. re: gazeskyward

                                                                                                                              Oh, my, olives are just terrible! The acridness, the jarring bitterness...ugh.

                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                To me, olives taste just like vomit. Not something I discuss too often, for obvious reasons.

                                                                                                                              2. re: gazeskyward

                                                                                                                                Yes, olives are difficult now that you mention it (not garden variety black ones, but others). I am not a huge fan of kalamata ... but I feel better about olives than I used to, I guess I've acquired a bit of a taste for them. There's something in olives that is similar to the tannins in red wine. I think it's stronger in the inner part of the olive that's touched the pit ...

                                                                                                                              3. I didn't realize about alcohol, either, until I read this thread. I drink red wine, if anything, but don't like it much and now I know why!I can't stand any other alcohol but this is something that has gotten worse the older I'm getting. I actually think the supertasting is getting even more sensitive the older I get. Does anyone else think that? I can taste if a food came from a can. I think I could taste the can when I was a kid but that was all my mom ever served, so I didn't know til I was older that fresh vegetables can sometimes taste good (e.g. love fresh spinach--hate it cooked).

                                                                                                                                1. Not sure if you are still seeing responses on this or not, but here goes. For me, the big problems are bitterness, acidity, and artificial sweeteners. Simple rule, just never use any artificial sweeteners. Red wine is difficult due to the bitterness, but I can tolerate light bodied reds (it is the tannins that get the supertaster; the more "body", the more tannins, usually). I like white wine better, but again the ones that are more "citrusy" in flavor will get me, as they are too sour/acidic. I tend to go for the white wines that are described as being "floral" in flavor. Rose wines seem to work consistently well for some reason. Again, with tea, the floral ones seem to work best, jasmine green teas being best for me. Black teas are too bitter, coffee too bitter. I tend to have problems with acidic things, so dialing down on the acids really helps. Heirloom tomatoes, especially cherokee purple, picked at true ripeness (max sweetness), I can eat those very happily as long as they are salted. For the problems with crucifers and brassicas, like brussel sproutes, broccoli, kale, etc..., I finally found a foolproof method of cooking them that I can actually tolerate them. Roast them; sometimes called "blasted broccoli" for broccoli. Just tossed with oil, salt (a little saltier really helps with bitterness), and pepper, then roast. Roast until they are getting that nice brown caramelization on top. The sweetness from that caramelzation plus making them a little salty really helps hide that bitterness. You can do this with brussel sprouts, cauliflower and kale too. I can smell and taste when an oil has oxidized even slightly, even when it has been used in cooking, so keeping oils very fresh helps too. Keep all nut and seed oils in the refrigerator to help with that.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: jenvander

                                                                                                                                    <Red wine is difficult due to the bitterness, but I can tolerate light bodied reds (it is the tannins that get the supertaster; the more "body", the more tannins, usually).>

                                                                                                                                    When I drank, I much preferred the lighter reds. Beaujolais and Valpolicella weren't just my favorites, they were the only reds I liked. I never thought about it until reading your response, jen.

                                                                                                                                  2. It would be great if there were a forum or group for SuperTasters. How would one go about that? I'm learning so much from you all!


                                                                                                                                    1. Intolerable:
                                                                                                                                      Raw Broccoli without something masking it
                                                                                                                                      Black Coffee is cringe worthy but developed a taste for it...I used to hate even the smell of it.
                                                                                                                                      Eggs, hard boiled or poached, or just plain eggs. I've actually vomited from eating eggs before b/c the taste was so nauseating and sulfuric. I can eat an omelette if it is covered in stuff though but still kind of have to suffer.
                                                                                                                                      Brussel Sprouts, taste like eating disgusting feet
                                                                                                                                      Stevia - it tastes like I am eating metal.
                                                                                                                                      beer, developed taste but used to taste like a bar of soap.
                                                                                                                                      I could start "tolerating" these foods if masked with other things when I was approaching 30... like an omelette... brussel sprouts in bacon, sometimes some coffee... Before that they were literally vomit inducing and made me want to jump out of my seat.

                                                                                                                                      1. Wow, this is all so interesting! I am 42, and have been always known as one of the fussiest people ever. Some of the items shown by others here to be bad, I can eat, but mostly, this is all about my life!!! I am definitely a supertaster... Here's my nono list.

                                                                                                                                        Tomatoes - (Sauces and Ketchup ok..)
                                                                                                                                        Anything with vinegar in it, (Ketchup, again is the exception). This includes all salad dressings, and anything pickled, mayo, salsa, etc.
                                                                                                                                        Onions, but I can stand them when cooked.
                                                                                                                                        Olives? Yea, right.
                                                                                                                                        I have a big problem with seafood, but a lot of it may be psychological. Though any taste I have ever had was WAY too out there for me.
                                                                                                                                        Fish is sketchy, but not too bad.
                                                                                                                                        Cucumber, Avacado, Cabbage, Mushrooms, Radishes, Spinach. Rhubarb
                                                                                                                                        Grapefruit? Yea, RIGHT. Not even close.
                                                                                                                                        Basil makes me sick...
                                                                                                                                        Pepper is a nono.
                                                                                                                                        Garlic turns the tummy unless it's very slight.
                                                                                                                                        Club soda is NOT happnin.
                                                                                                                                        Black coffee, tea. Beer is hard to get down.
                                                                                                                                        (Most alchohol is unpleasant, but I like Sambuca. And the after effect...)
                                                                                                                                        Pop with too much carbonation..
                                                                                                                                        Blue Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Sour Cream
                                                                                                                                        Feta!! Whoa. HATE it.
                                                                                                                                        Sandwich or prepared meats are mostly nonos. Unless you get the stuff without preservatives.
                                                                                                                                        Plain Yogurt
                                                                                                                                        Not fond of eggs... Mixed with cheese is ok.
                                                                                                                                        Pork isn't a favorite, but I can deal with it.

                                                                                                                                        Yet.. Some of the foods others seem to all hate, are ok for me.

                                                                                                                                        Brussel Sprouts! My wife cooks them a certain way, the taste is totally different. Very good. Normally, Nada.
                                                                                                                                        Broccoli, but it has to be cooked. I don't enjoy it, I just know it's good for you.

                                                                                                                                        Foods I really love
                                                                                                                                        Breads, Cheese, some Chinese food..
                                                                                                                                        Just tried Chai tea Latte's, LOVE em.
                                                                                                                                        If I have a burger it's with Cheese, ketchup, and lettuce only.

                                                                                                                                        I have struggled with food, and bad digestion, for SO long, that I can't even think of food I really like. Used to love pizza and lasagna etc, but it's even turning me off. Losing weight is nice...

                                                                                                                                        That's all I can think of for now.


                                                                                                                                        1. Jumping into this resuscitated thread.

                                                                                                                                          Found out I was a supertaster in college while reading Discover magazine back in late '90s.

                                                                                                                                          I hold many of the aversions folks list here. I do not like bitter/sour AT ALL. Have never been able to drink beer. It's thoroughly unappealing to me. I've even tried cooking with it (made some Irish stew with Guinness), but it still ain't happening. Do not in any way, shape, or form dig coffee. I won't even kiss my wife when she's got that teacher breath going on from drinking it. Grew up on sweet tea in the Deep South, so I do like that, but only sweetened and not with artificial sweeteners. Can't do red wine either. Way too bitter for me, but I have grown an affinity for cooking with it in certain applications. Love it in stew, for example, but some red wine sauce reductions retain too much inherent bitterness. I do appreciate some sweeter white wines such as a solid Riesling, though I find some Moscatos too sweet. Tried a few Sauvignon Blancs, but they've all ended with a metallic finish I can't stand.

                                                                                                                                          Alcohol in general was a huge no-no for me for the longest time. It took me falling into bartending and forcing myself to try everything for me to find a window of flavors I could swig. I like mellow, spiced rums and tend to mix them sweetly. Can never do gin or Scotch. Don't like whiskey or bourbon at all either, but some bourbon in sauces work. There are a FEW blanco tequilas I've been able to enjoy, but all others have been met with utter disgust.

                                                                                                                                          As for food, don't really like many raw vegetables. Too bitter. There are some Asian preparations wherein the vegetables are blanched and still a bit crunchy, but the layers and complexity of flavors tend to mask the bitterness sometimes. Hate brussel sprouts, raw onions, etc. Don't mind some thoroughly steamed broccoli, but I don't much care for it. Raw tomatoes aren't my favorite thing either, but diced up and mixed into a Mexican dish or a THIN slice on a sandwich or burger can work. Put a katana to my neck to get me to eat grapefruit. Abhor avacados.

                                                                                                                                          I don't like much seafood. Friends of mine orgasm over smoked salmon, but I'd rather solder a hole in my big toenail than grub on that. I HATE crab. Never tried lobster. I do like shrimp, catfish, cod, etc. Mostly the lighter flavors. Anything too briny or "fishy" is a no-go.

                                                                                                                                          Do not like ham, though I love most other cuts/types of pork. Also vehemently hate hot dogs and some sausages, though I love some sausages. Bologna is one of the worst "foods" on the planet, IMO. Must processed lunch meat in general makes me gag. There is a flavor profile that emanates from this cluster of foods that I just can't do.

                                                                                                                                          I am a big chile head, though. LOVE spicy food. Got a ghost pepper plant blooming in the backyard as we speak, though admittedly I don't know what in the hell I'm gonna do with 'em. I can handle habaneros pretty easily, but ghost peppers are another story.

                                                                                                                                          I never liked cilantro at all until a few years ago and now I can only do it in moderation. It's easy for me to kill a dish with it, but I've discovered just the slightest pinch of it kinda works, so I've been experimenting with it ever so slightly. Me and tarragon ain't happening. Don't much care for sage, though, like cilantro, a little bit tends to work. The same goes for basil.

                                                                                                                                          I don't have much a sweet tooth. It's grown as I've gotten older, but I still have to be in the infrequent mood to have a go at some ice cream or cake. My favorite candies are Twizzlers and Jordan almonds. Rarely have 'em.

                                                                                                                                          I use vinegar a lot, but sparingly and with finesse. I do like black olives, but no other kind. Hate any pungent cheese. Not a big fan of cucumbers, but do like a good pickle. Yogurt is disgusting to me.

                                                                                                                                          I'm gonna stop rambling now.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Agiyosi

                                                                                                                                            It's so funny reading about all of this and going 'yes, yes, yes, i feel the same way'. How wonderful that more people are like me! :D

                                                                                                                                            I don't know all the foods you guys list (I'm from Holland and we don't have some of that stuff here, or I don't know the translation) but the things I know are mostly the things I dislike also. Fish, vegetables, alcohol... Sometimes I wonder if there is anything I do love to eat. Most of it is just "well I'll eat it, but I don't enjoy it" Only thing is love is pizza and fries, but I can't live on that.
                                                                                                                                            As for candy and cheese, luckily we have a lot of salty cheeses here, they are delicious. I don't like any other cheeses. Same goes for candy, we have a thing called 'drop'. It's like licorice, but also comes in salty tastes. Dubble salty drop is my favorite kind of candy. I don't really care for the sweet stuff.

                                                                                                                                          2. Ok, folks, I have a BIG question. My experience fits to a T all of the symptoms talked about here. I even did the counting bumps test on my tongue with food coloring, and I was double the supertaster number.

                                                                                                                                            I got some PTC strips very easily online though, (100 for like $2.50 plus shipping!), and I CANNOT TASTE THEM. AT ALL. My wife, who can eat normally, has more then the limit of taste buds also, and the test strips almost KILL her! (Fun to watch though.)

                                                                                                                                            So, I understand that it's a genetic thing that decides whether you taste the strips. But obviously we can't assume that all the people who have the high tongue bump count, ALSO have the genetic tendency to taste PTC... My case is an example.

                                                                                                                                            So here is my questions. What determines whether you are a supertaster? The bump count? Your food sensitivities? OR the P.T.C. Test? Or a combination of them?

                                                                                                                                            I guess it WOULD be silly to assume that if you have a low number of taste buds, you MUST not genetically be able to taste P.T.C.

                                                                                                                                            How does all this fit together??

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: phuzzyday

                                                                                                                                              I have never encountered a PTC strip and could not tell you what the letters stand for, but I am certain I'm a supertaster. If you look like a duck and quack like a duck, who cares about the darn strips? It sounds like you've already discovered the perfect use for them.

                                                                                                                                              As has already been discussed, you can have all the tastebuds you want, but if they're not communicating with your brain effectively, you're not going to be a supertaster.

                                                                                                                                              I'll tell you what I would be interested in, and that is how many supertasters are also HSPs (highly sensitive people). I suspect there is a correlation.

                                                                                                                                            2. How do you determine if you are a "supertaster?" Is there a test? An award? A badge of some sort?

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                I suppose there is a few tests, and the award would be an explanation for all the people that just think you're being a fussy jerk. Sometimes I WISH there was a badge. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                  Same badges for people with 20/10 vision or acute sense of equilibrium.

                                                                                                                                                  There are tests, both practical and genetic.

                                                                                                                                                2. I'm a supertaster. I have actually died my tongue to confirm it. The only thing that really bothers me is high concentrations of capsaicin (the chemical that makes chilis spicy). In moderate amounts it can make my lips and tongue swell. I actually love spicy foods, but I have my husband taste them first to make sure they're in my tolerance level. The bitterness component does not bother me. I love cilantro and sour flavors. I'm an avid cook and will eat just about anything.

                                                                                                                                                  I really feel that whether you like certain foods or not has more to do with your exposure to them. That being said, I think as a super taster it's important to realize I can taste a lot of things that other people can't. So if you give me a flavorless grocery store tomato or use a slightly freezer burned item in a soup, I will taste it. I can detect fridge odors in high fat foods like cheese after a day if they haven't been properly stored. I can taste the iron in peanut butter. When you literally can taste EVERYTHING, it just means it's that much more important to buy really high quality ingredients and treat them properly. This applies to restaurants too. My favorite places buy their food locally and prepare almost everything in house.

                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: eatinATL

                                                                                                                                                    What kind of peanut butter do you prefer? "Health food store natural" or something like Skippy?
                                                                                                                                                    In what kind can you taste the iron more?
                                                                                                                                                    Is the taste disagreeable to you?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                                                                      A small amount of iron like what you get from cooking in cast iron or the 4% daily value you get from regular peanut butter, does not really bother me. It's a little off-putting the first couple of bites with peanut butter and then I adjust. Higher dosages (like what you would get in a multi-vitamin) make me nauseous. Learned that a couple years back and promptly switched to a gummy vitamin with no iron. I prefer straight up freshly ground peanut butter to the grocery store stuff, but I buy Peter Pan or generic for baking since the moisture/sugar content is so different from the fresh stuff.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: eatinATL

                                                                                                                                                        I am a supertaster as far as I can tell without testing. I don't think I am as much of one as you are, though.

                                                                                                                                                        I really hear you on things like freezer burn, refrigerator tastes, etc. I can add stale crackers and dairy that is beginning to turn that no one else seems to taste...

                                                                                                                                                  2. I don't know what I am.

                                                                                                                                                    I always considered myself a super taster. I remember doing that strip thing way back in junior high. I threw up in class. I am beyond a picky eater (and don't consider myself a foodie) and yeah, it has affected my health. Yet reading up on super tasters and all that, I find I don't fit the bill.

                                                                                                                                                    I hate bitter things. There is practically no vegetable I like. I can do cooked onions (actually kind of like them) as well as tomato sauce, and interestingly enough some sun dried tomatoes packed in oil. Don't even put a cooked green vegetable near me. I know as a kid my parents had a real rough time with me not being able to eat anything. I think, however, I also have a huge problem with textures and that may put me in a bad mindset from the beginning. I so want to eat mushrooms but every time I taste them, blech!

                                                                                                                                                    I love steak and chicken - but only white meat. Dark meat will make me sick (which means a lot of fast food Asian and foreign chicken dishes are a no-no). Cant do most other meats though, although strip bacon is OK.

                                                                                                                                                    I am a sugar junkie, love cream, love butter - in fact I can literally eat butter (has to be salted). Like milk chocolate, not so much dark. I can taste a huge difference in diet sodas - they taste too sweet to me, very strange flavor. I also love cows milk cheese, can tolerate a few goat cheeses, hate sheeps milk. Strangely enough I love Parmesan - has a great nutty/sweet taste to it.

                                                                                                                                                    I hate spiciness. friends would get together and we would order boneless buffalo wings. We had to get it with the sauce on the side - I would put a dab on the end, and load it up with blue cheese dressing. I liked the overall taste - I just could not stand the spiciness. I love Chicken Korma and Naan bread, so Indian restaurants are torture - so much I want to try but cant!

                                                                                                                                                    I also hate alcohol. I can tolerate a light beer or glass or really sweet wine (the desert Rieslings, for instance), and small amounts of Irish Creme. I read an interesting blog http://sciencefare.org/2011/11/16/why... that talks about the connection between not being able to stand spicy things and not liking alcohol.

                                                                                                                                                    So anyways, I am stuck. Like I said, its beyond just a nuscience, it really is not good not eating vegetables. I keep trying the multivitamin routine, but they end up making me sick after a day or two. But it seems no one really has put much time into trying to understand the whys and hows of super tasting, and just focuses on conditioning.

                                                                                                                                                    Had to add a few more things after reading the rest of this thread. I love carbonation. I have a hard time drinking water that is anything but ice cold, but love carbonated water. Although I do think it tastes quite salty. Raw garlic is another thing I hate, but again I like roasted garlic. I have no problem with vinegars and acids, and I can tolerate light lettuces like iceberg and romaine. But no way arugula. And I cannot tolerate anything that swims or lives in the water. That includes ducks.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I'm a supertaster but I'm not as picky an eater as a lot of people here! I guess I enjoy indulging all the different tastes, Brussels sprouts for example are great because have that complex bitter flavor without being overwhelming. And I never ate them as a kid, so I never had reason to hate them. And my favorite chili recipe I developed so it hits you across the spectrum of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami, fatty, and spicy. Which is representative of my overall advice for supertasters which is embrace your greater ability to taste things on the aesthetic level.

                                                                                                                                                      It also helps if you're the sort of person who can bear some discomfort. The first time I drank beer I thought it was like a joke or something, it was impossibly bad. But I didn't siss out, and within a few years it doesn't taste nearly as bad anymore. You can't really enjoy food as a supertaster if you can't endure some terrible flavors at first. Although it also helps to pair difficult things up (vegetables are a lot better with butter and seasoning, I drink all my coffee in cafe au lait form), and I know when to write something off as impossible (grapefruit).

                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: frankelee

                                                                                                                                                        You know, I have converted a couple of grapefruit haters. Try a ruby red from Florida (not California), section it, make sure you trim any white pith, and liberally dust it with sugar or a sweetener of your choice. Most of the bitterness is in the pith and membrane, so this kind of preparation helps. It will be tart, but not so overwhelmingly bitter. Eat it along with something savory like eggs and bacon. Don't eat it alongside anything sweet (like jam). Here's the proper way to section it:


                                                                                                                                                        Also, I didn't think I liked coffee until I nerded out and learned the proper way to brew it. Knowing what kind of single origin coffees I like helps too. With beer, I steer clear of IPAs with very high IBUS. But otherwise, I love it. Being a foodie and being curious about food has really been my best defense against being a picky supertaster.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: eatinATL

                                                                                                                                                          Florida grapefruit is also much better than Texas. Texas ones are just sweet without any complexity from acid. Ruby Red is usually a Texas variety; Floridas are pink. But if Texas is all that you can handle, enjoy.
                                                                                                                                                          It also matters from what stage in the season the fruit was picked and I am sure that there are different strains - later is much better than earlier; one can taste the difference every two weeks in the season.
                                                                                                                                                          Smaller fruit is better than larger.
                                                                                                                                                          Adding sugar messes it up for me.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Seems like many people here are equating being a supertaster with having food aversions. That's not my understanding of taste acuity or flavor acuity.

                                                                                                                                                        Taste aversions are selective hypersensitivities.

                                                                                                                                                        In my reading about this topic, I see the world hypertaster or hyperguesia. "Super" is not a prefix used in the scientific or medical world.

                                                                                                                                                        1. One thing I really dislike is celery. I literally gag at the stuff. Everybody else seems to like it, but I hate it with a passion. I also don't like fresh tomatoes, although I enjoy ketchup, spaghetti sauce, etc. Any kind of fresh green vegetable is a big yuck for me.

                                                                                                                                                          One thing I've found that seems to help a lot is the Vitamix machine I bought a few weeks ago, and have used every day since then. I've found that I can "hide" a lot of these foods (except celery and tomatoes) inside things I really enjoy, like chocolate milkshakes and fruit smoothies. I don't know if this will help anybody else, but it's worked for me. I'm getting plenty of spinach, kale, carrots, etc. in my diet without noticing them, or giving up the enjoyment of eating my meals.

                                                                                                                                                          1. I had it confirmed in a my college biology lab that I'm a supertaster. I notice this discussion has been going on since 2007, but in case some of you are still wondering, you can order tests thru Amazon.com for genetic taste testing - Phenylthiourea (PTC) with paper test strips.

                                                                                                                                                            I despise the taste of beer, coffee, turnips, cauliflower, and ALL artificial sweeteners. Stevia is "natural" (not artificial) but it is also very bitter to me. I actually stumbled across this discussion board while searching for natural sweeteners that are not too bitter for supertasters.

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sdousley

                                                                                                                                                              The thiourea test (PROP strips) has been mis-sold. It only tests for thiourea sensitivity, not sensitivity to all bitter flavors or sensitivity overall. It really only means on thing -- sensitivity to thiourea. Sensitivity to thiourea by no means can be interpreted as an enhanced sensitivity to all flavors, or increased acuity. Moreover, sensitivity to thiourea is based on a specific genetic sequencing. You either have that, or you don't.

                                                                                                                                                            2. I'm a super taster. This isn't a complete list but here is what I could think of off the top of my head:

                                                                                                                                                              Raw cranberries, grapefruit, granny smith apples, pineapple, sour candy, black coffee, unsweetened tea, beer, wine, carbonated sodas, tonic water, dark chocolate, mustard, pickles, sauerkraut, wasabi paste, horseradish, olives, oil and vinegar dressing, and artichokes.

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: amandasupak

                                                                                                                                                                If you're defining a supertaster as someone sensitive to bitter tastes (and that is not at all how I would define it), then many of the flavors you've listed I'd define as tart (or acidic) and not bitter.

                                                                                                                                                                As Jennifer McLagen, the author of a new cookbook on bitter tastes, called Bitter, says,

                                                                                                                                                                "Distinguishing between tart and bitter is often difficult. Tart is only signaled by acids while hundreds of different chemicals elicit a bitter response. Both often viewed as negative so often confused."

                                                                                                                                                                But I agree that differentiation of tastes/flavors may be difficult.

                                                                                                                                                                More on McLagen's new book here and the "bitter" vocabulary: