Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In Good Taste

My sense of taste is apparently significantly atrophied.

I have friends who are connoiseurs of coffee, beer, and wine. They discuss the alluring complexities of Ethiopian dark roast and the tangy zest of Jamaica Blue Mountain. They debate the merits of Belgian Trappist beers and blonde ales. Don't even get me started on the wine discussions.

I'm a McDonald's man, myself. They don't serve beer and wine, of course, but they do serve coffee, which is generally labeled "Coffee (S/M/L).” It contains caffeine, which is a desired ingredient when I show up for work at 7:20 a.m. It tastes okay to me, but I don’t really savor it, roll it around under my tongue and search for the hint of blueberries. It tastes like coffee.

And yet I know many people who would be horrified by such an admission. It is akin to some sanctimonious bore pontificating that all rock ‘n roll sounds like irritating noise, and I would be horrified by that statement as well. Those are the people who need to hear Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, or a Skinny Puppy album, I think malevolently. You don’t like irritating noise? Try this. Just trying to be helpful. So I get it. I understand the tendency to smirk and to roll the eyes. “You just need to learn to be more discriminating,” my friends tell me as they extol the wonders of Guatemalan Antigua Los Volcanes. “You need to look for the chocolaty overtones.” Sure thing. And I wish I could. But I’m sorry. It tastes like coffee. No chocolaty overtones. No piquant nuttiness. Just coffee.

Some of this is undoubtedly due to the fact that I have nuked my taste buds, and that I have seriously undermined my ability to discrminate between, say, skim milk and single-malt Scotch due to decades of gastronomic abuse. I sip the Ethiopian dark roast. “Zest” is not the word I would use. "Zest" is nineteen jalapeno peppers on a burrito. But this just tastes like a Medium coffee at McDonald’s.

I wish I could do better. Alas, I fear that I am a hopeless case.


St. Izzy said...

...I have seriously undermined my ability to discrminate between... skim milk and single-malt Scotch....

goes immediately to the top of my nominations for Most Gastronomically Repulsive Image of the Year. And I work with teenagers, so that's saying a lot.

need a shot of Oban to cleanse the palate

mg said...

your talents in coffee appreciation are equivalent to others talents in music appreciation (and vice versa).

i think your discerning tastes come in musical form, not caffeine.

St. Elizabeth of Cayce said...

I can tell the difference between Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi. That's about al the discriminating my papate needs to be able to do.

John McCollum said...

Jamaican Blue Mountain really is overrated.

As is skim milk.

Andy Whitman said...

I couldn't really comment on the Jamaica Blue Mountain. I definitely agree with you on skim milk. Very overrated. Lately in the Whitman household the skim milk has been replaced by something called Soy Milk, which is even worse. It's made from soybeans. They power farm machinery with soybeans. Think about it.

You really have to watch what you put in your body. Give me nineteen jalapeno peppers any days.

just scott said...

I will gladly take 19 jalapenos on a burrito; hell give me 25. As far as that skim milk goes...I will take soy over that white water any day. And as for imports, just give me a Bud (though never a Bud light) :)

Pilgrim said...

Viva Tim Horton's!