HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


How's your Palate?

Today I recently read an article with comments attached, which made me wonder....how's your palate?

As a Foodie, do you think your tasteabliity is better, differerent, more or less refined? As a Chow?

Do you think that people who don't have your sense of taste are, less tasteful, more tasteful? Is being a Super taster good? Bad? Do you ever wonder how people eat "that"?

Personally, I love those bitter tastes, always. I have never understood why people like sweets, at all. Many vegetables are too sweet to me, but bring on the bitter ones! And please, please, please may I have more mushrooms! I adore the complexities of "bitter" foods, bring on the chocolates, dark, rich, those red wines. Ah the cheeses, blue, sharp! And to be frank, some good rare beef, is slightly sweet.

But that is ME! I once knew a relationship was doomed, when I burnt the garlic in the prep. And I tried to pass it off. To me it was inedible, he could not taste it. And if you adore sweets, I will very politely decline to taste your food alot.

So Chows...tell about your palate!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I often joke that I have the palate of a five year old. Honestly, it does not take much to please me in the way of taste. There are not many things I won't eat, and I enjoy a well prepared PB&J at home just as much as a beautiful meal at a fine restaurant.Some people may consider this not such a good thing, but frankly, I feel it is a blessing as where I am from people do not get much more involved in food beyond picking the nearest chain resto.
    Since joining CH I know I am becoming more discerning. The boards have encouraged me to try more locally owned and ethnic fare, and as these experiences prove time and time again to be much more satisfying, complex, and palate pleasing as compared to your typical franchise food I see I am developing a bit of an aversion to your average watered down passionless sustenance fare.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ArikaDawn

      foodies may or may not have more discerning taste...it's a bit of nature and a bit of nurture. and i think a lot of it is also in peoples' heads! heh.

      we're all born with a certain number of tastebuds and nothing can change that (supertasters have a lot and may have an aversion to stronger bitter or sour flavors because they're much stronger to them...non-tasters have much less of them and may not be able to taste much beyong the basic profile of the dish whether it be sweet or otherwise). maybe you have more tastebuds on the sweet side of your mouth?

      and we love the food we've had positive associations with. but we can be trained to recognize flavors and "tastes", and we can grow accustomed to them. more than anything else, these advanced preferences are psychological. we once did an experiment where people were blindfloded and had to eat various samples. some we disgusting!! but almost everyone loved the crunchy, spicy mexican bugs. ewwwww....

      i personally have become used to so many different tastes and textures over the years, but i still prefer the simple things.

      1. re: kimberlya

        I agree with you on the nature vs. nurture thing. I remember a time when the only wine I could drink was white zinfandel. Gradually, I tried other wines and now I love dryer red wines and wouldn't dream of drinking a white zin again.

        I also hated seafood until a few years ago. And sushi? Forget about it. Now I love to try as many different things as I can get my hands on. I think its all about taking the chance to try something new and if you don't like it...That's ok. Move on to something else.

        Food is an adventure and I love every minute of it

    2. About your comment "I have never understood why people like sweets, at all" that seems a bit overstated to me (since mother's milk is "sweet"). Now if you personally don't like sweets that one thing but to be confused as to why humanity has enjoyed sweet is beyond me. But on the other hand you state that you like chocolate (go figure).

      5 Replies
      1. re: Chinon00

        Not over stated at all, I do not like sweets, taste nor smell. While I cannot recall the taste of being breastfed, my mother does report that from an early stage I definately declined sweet tastes. On the other hand, give me a pickle, or something sour and I was happy. To me sweet is unpleasant. so I cannot understand why people like it.

        The chocolates I prefer at the very dark, bitter sweet ones.

        But you do seem to be making the point I was asking about; "thinking" the way one's own palate is, is the way it should be? Because "Mother's milk"( Is it sweet, I have no idea?) is sweet therefore we all have to like sweets to be "normal"?

        1. re: Quine

          No, of course not. But I still am perplexed NOT that an individual doesn't like sweets (to each his own), but that one would be shocked and surprised somehow that the human race can or does . The "mothers milk" reference is to state simply that nature desires to make nursing as agreeable as possible for newborns (I think we'd all agree with that). And since it is sweet then "sweet" must be agreeable to us as a species GENERALLY (according to your mother you were an exception).
          This is not to suggest that every human must like sweets but it should provide clear evidence how many humans appreciating sweets is an understandable (if not universal) outcome.

          1. re: Chinon00

            Well, breast milk is sweetish in mild milky kinda way, but not all that sweet. It also has a lot of natural glutamate. And I believe there is some evidence that baby's tastebuds change over time as part of their normal development.
            I don't disagree that (most) humans have an innate preference for sweet though. And that could have advantages beyond liking breast milk. But the guy who liked bitter/sour might be the one who figured out that various previously unconsidered foods were edible.

            1. re: julesrules

              I don't disagree with that either. But I think that unfortunately ego gets in the way with many a "foodie" and we are unable to admit that we've ever enjoyed less than non-obvious foods. To claim to "[not] understand" how HUMANITY could enjoy sweets is to me simply beyond the pale; an overstatement beyond words.

              1. re: Chinon00

                Oh my dear...please your words are so delightul...so filled of drama. But surely" what I said was "I have never understood why people like sweets, at all." I swear I never typed more than that. I am not sure I can spell "how HUMANITY could enjoy sweets is to me simply beyond the pale; an overstatement beyond words."

      2. I am quite good at tasting a dish and being able to tell in some detail what ingredients went into it. I am just beginning to learn that the people eating dinner with me rarely want to hear that information. I have a good palate. I may be a schmendrick but I have a good palate.

        1 Reply
        1. re: inuksuk

          Come eat with my dad and me. We make sort of a game of that. Frequently it's so we can go home and try to make it ourselves.

        2. In regard to taste buds, I recall reading many years ago in a human biology class that you develop one set of taste buds and that can determine your preference in foods. The "sets" were always salt and sweet vs bitter and sour. I, like you, am a bitter and sour. I love all of those horribly stinky cheeses, dark unsweetened chococlate, bitter greens...love it all! I have to cut the sugar by at leats half in every baked good recipe just to make it edible. Actually, I could easily live without desserts at all but take away one of my favorite food favorites such as kale or capers or gorgonzola and I'd be miserable.

          1. Bring it all on - salty, sweet, bitter, sour - there are very few foods I don't like. I definitely don't think I'm a super taster - more like somewhere in the middle. I love dark chocolate, milk chocolate, bitter greens, sharp cheeses. I love salty foods like great potato chips and I love good desserts (although I will admit that there is such a thing as too sweet...)

            1. I think I like extremes - all of them. Everything a little sweeter, saltier, more sour or more bitter! And more complex. If a muffin recipe calls for cinnamon, I will add cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and more. I think my palate is better than average, but nothing like many hounds. But I don't think I'm a supertaster or I wouldn't want more, more, more of every flavour...

              1. I could never figure mine out - and because of what I do, having a fairly decent palate is kind of important. Still, when I'm asked to taste things (specifically coffee and tea), I almost have to do it blind because if not, whatever preconceptions I have regarding the specific terroir will invariably enter my brain no matter how hard I try to start at zero. It's sort of a pain and I wish I could disconnect brain from tongue.

                That said, I'm not a big fan of saltiness but my #1 all-time junk food crush is Wise potato chips. I don't like overly sweet and can't understand that appeal (Starbucks syrupy latte drinks), but "sweet" itself isn't bothersome (as in a good cannoli or even an Oreo).

                I'll eat just about anything (once), but there doesn't seem to be a pattern on what I like and what I don't. For instance, I'm fine with just about any cheese I've tried, but for personal consumption of "runny/stinky" cheeses, I draw the line at blues. I can eat the bries and epoisses and camemberts at your party, but I'm not really enjoying them (and forget the rinds). I'm good with broccoli raw or cooked, but can only eat cauliflower raw. And I can't be near ham and pineapple without gagging a little. I don't know why.

                Still, rarely is anything "inedible" in my world (save for bad entrees in expensive restaurants and 95% of all coffee served in North America.) But other than my wife, I don't think less of others who don't share what I like - as long as they actually try some of it at some point in their lives. My wife is the exception because it limits what I can cook.

                But even then, if I don't have to share, more for me. It's rare anyone asks to taste the grilled octopus or lardo and toast on my plate (c'mon Pittsburgh, somebody put this stuff on a local menu!)

                1. I love sweets, but think cheeses taste like a$$. Not that I've ever tasted a$$...:)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: silleehillee


                    That's what my friend says about vegetables. I am NOT going to ask how he knows.

                  2. I think that your palate is the most fundamental thing in cooking (even more so than technique and sourcing I think) and also the one you are least able to control. I work as a private chef, and I really truly think that the one thing I have going for me is that the way that I personally tend to like things, my clients also have. It's dumb luck, innate I think. But there seems to be such variability in different people's palates. I had a meal at Chez Panisse downstairs a few years back with my much younger brother (then 19) and the way that he was describing the flavor and flavor combination convinced me that he is far & away more of a natural cook of the two of us (and he's now in cooking school ;) Anyway, I do think the one can refine your palate over time, but as far as basic sensitivity I think it comes hard wired. My two cents...

                    1. No, I would not think that people who don't "have [my] sense of taste are, less tasteful, [or] more tasteful" necessarily. And I'm not sure what a "Supertaster" is exactly so I can't comment. Back to the first point, I wouldn't judge a person on their personal tastes. I do judge people on their ability to recognize flavor distinctions whether they are natural (e.g. white truffle versus black truffle) or those guided by say a brewer (e.g. Helles Lager versus Pilsner). And beyond that being able to distinguish the relative quality of food stuffs and dishes is another important factor.
                      Personal tastes are not learned but occur randomly (so they can't be judged). But to me a "good palate" (i.e. detailed understanding of what things should taste like) can obviously be achieved through dining, cooking, study, and desire.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Chinon00

                        A "supertaster" is someone whose sense of taste is more sensitive (for lack of a better word), especially to bitterness. It doesn't mean they're "better" at tasting things than the average person. I have a friend who's a supertaster and he can't stand vegetables because to him they taste excessively bitter.

                      2. I realize this is an old thread but I'd like to bring it back to life.

                        I'm a food blogger and very recently a personal chef. I was recommended to take over two clients for someone who couldn't cook for them anymore; of course I jumped at the chance. I'm a good cook, but not a great cook. I'm attending a boot camp at the CIA in Oct but otherwise have had no training, and until six years ago never cooked at all.

                        My question? Is it possible to speed up the process of refining my palate? I feel very strongly that I would be a much better cook/chef if I could simply taste my food and be able to know exactly what to add...a little salt here, something to counterbalance something there...you get the idea. Any tips or tricks on ways to train this coveted "skill" (for lack of a better word)?

                        And, I apologize for hijacking the thread. Perhaps it's okay since it's an old one? ;-)

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: wicked noodle

                          Hi! Hijacking is good, But I do think your question is GOOD and you should make it own post! I am sure that you will get lots more responses.

                          But to start an answer, experience! The more foods You try the more experience you will have and you will be able to discern more subtle flavor/taste differences.
                          Also experiment! Make something very very basic, say just a potato soup, with little or no seasoning. Then experiment! Take a small (say 1/2 - 1cup) portion and add salt a tad at a time, tasting after each addition, think and experience how that addition worked. Do the same with new portions and add a different thing, like another spice, some cooked garlic, some cream etc.
                          This can teach you alot. Remember smell is also a big part of taste, so get that nose working too!

                          1. re: wicked noodle

                            I agree, your query is worthy of its own post. Quine's response is certainly a very good one.

                            Personally, I becoming fascinated with the intesection of taste, smell, and psychology as it pertains to palate and preference. But, that needs more thought . . . .

                            1. re: MGZ

                              Thank you both!
                              Quine, I love your suggestions! Very practical and something I can do immediately. Thanks so much for taking the time to help...much appreciated!

                              1. re: wicked noodle

                                Glad to help. Re post your query as a new post and get tons of ideas.

                                We want to see you do well.