A Chowhound Gene?
I am in a quandary. I wonder if there is some sort of a Chowhound specific predisposition that my DNA chain might be missing. For example, I had a wonderful meal a few weeks back at Mexico City, as did my friends who have similarly refined tastes. The majority of the board participants find it akin to pig slob. On the other side of the coin, I just had a really substandard dining experience at Opus, which seems to be the cause célèbre of the ‘hounds as of late. And maybe even worst of all, after three attempts to find the inherent magic, I have given up on Pinkberry.
Now I know I have good taste, which is totally subjective. Good food on many levels makes me happier than almost anything in the world. I have had an adventurous and sophisticated palate from a very young age. I was reading cookbooks as a kindergartener and Ruth Reichel and MFK Fisher as a teen. So, why are some of my key experiences seem to be so incongruous with the status quo on Chowhound? Inquiring minds (and taste buds) want to know.
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Variety is the spice of life. I've long given up on going with the majority as far as food is concerned. Fortunately my husband and I agree on most foods but we find ourselves on the far fringes of the distribution when it comes to general opinion. Doesn't worry me a whole lot.
Well, you could consider that you have some fundamental flaw which others don't. However, I would suspect you are not really that different. Let's face it, all the people that post on Chowhound do not make up the universe of sophisticated diners or people with identical tastes. Everyone has been to rave restaurants and walked out at some point and said...hmmm, I don't get it!
A CH I respect greatly once told me his theory, which seemed to work well. He said it goes beyond learning and eating good food. Anyone can really do that. But what might make CH's special at it's core is that we might be more likely to be super tasters. So we CAN appreciate complex things, and things that are bland or 'common' might taste bad to us. Here's an article on how you can test if you are super taster... I think it would be interesting to find out! :)
As much as I like this theory, I'm pretty sure it's wrong. For a long time, my friend and I believed I must be a super taster, using much the same logic. At one point, however, he mentioned this possibility to someone who actually knows a couple of confirmed super tasters. The latter's reaction was to express sympathy for my plight!
It turns out that super tasters are the LEAST likely to be chowhounds. They experience flavors so intensely that they typically shy away from flavorful foods in favor of the bland. I think it's related to why kids who are picky eaters can still grow up to be chowhounds. It's not that your palette is more sensitive as an adult -- quite the contrary. You just aren't tasting the things you hate as intensely, which allows you to experience other flavors that were previously overwhelmed.
My understanding is the same as that of a and w's.
Since all of us CHs would like to think that we are able to experience complexities of flavors more precisely than the general population, some people jumped on the word "supertaster" as a way to describe the skill.
Apparently, according to prior postings on CH, it's actually a physiological problem that causes some people to experience one of the basic tastes (sweet, salty, etc.) out of proportion to the others. Ten of us could eat the same dish and nine would find it delicious and well-balanced while the tenth (the poor supertaster) would consider it too sweet because those sensors in his mouth were overly stimulated.
True supertasters tend to prefer bland food in self defense because nothing ever tastes really right or balanced to them.
Some of my favorite restaurants are constantly attacked, but I've stopped caring. I think a lot of it is that one vociferous person will say some is absolutely amazing (or conversely, the worst thing ever) and others join in. It's daunting to add your opposing opinion to one of those posts.
In addition, a lot of posts tend to get kind of esoteric (e.g., posts about Mexican food in Boston often veer off into the "there is NO authentic Mexican in Boston, therefore it is all horrible" territory). Usually I'm just looking for something that tastes good, no matter how authentic the style or premium the location or ingredients.