Ada here. I recently got Covid, my booster long worn-off, and 5 days into being sick, I heated up some leftover olive-studded venison and turnip picadillo, topped the plate with a heap of sour cream and fresh dill, sharp cheddar, took a bite, and nothing. Absolutely nothing. After running to the fridge for a spoonful of sriracha, and burying my nose in the bunch of dill, without question, my taste was gone. I was suddenly aware of my large and useless tongue, which felt broken and like a somewhat disconcerting appendage lodged in my mouth. Let me tell you, it's very disorienting to lose your sense of taste and smell! I'm sure someone reading this has also experienced this by now.
Not being able to taste has changed my relationship with food this past week. What became glaringly clear is this: the main factor that drives my cooking decisions is taste. Given the circumstances - what ingredients I have, how much time I care to spend, how hungry am I, and how much do I give a sh*t - how can I make something taste good, or maybe great, or maybe better than it was the night before? Even if I'm throwing something together in less than 5 minutes, I'm never trying to make it taste not-good, or worse than it started. A good taste is always the destination, but when you can't taste, the cooking decision matrix is all scrambled. Heating up the leftover picadillo, I added a pad of butter and cheddar cheese because things were a little dry. But what if I can't taste the sweet fatty butter or sharp melted cheese? Why add them? What difference does it make? If it all tastes like nothing, why even add salt?
Over the past week, texture and temperature have been the only things that really shape my eating experience. Crunchy celery salad and a cold smoothie were two home runs that made me feel like I was at least eating something rather than nothing. Also, hashbrowns: a crisp outside, with a pillowy inside. Now that's fun! Despite not being able to taste, food cravings haven't gone away. I know what freshly chiffonade basil on a Pomodoro pasta should taste like, and my memories of cheeseburgers are delicious. And so this week's roundup is all the things I plan to make as soon as my taste returns, which I think it's slowly doing. My coffee today tasted bitter! And a tomato yesterday was slightly sweet!
Happy cooking, and happy tasting! Cucumbers are here!!!
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