This week I came down with covid (don’t worry, it’s a pretty mild case) and suddenly I can’t taste food AT ALL. Loss of taste is a common symptom, and it usually comes back eventually. (If it doesn’t I might need to rethink a few career decisions). My loss of taste has been equal parts fascinating and depressing. And just when I’d started development on two new cookbooks. I guess those will have to wait!
It’s depressing because my favorite source of daily entertainment (eating) has now become extremely boring. I ate a few potato chips today, and after enjoying the texture and satisfying sound of the crunch for a minute or so, I put the bag away because they just weren’t doing a lot for me. I poured salt on my hand and licked it off just to see. Nothing. So bizarre. I NEVER put single-serving bags of potato chips back in the cupboard after opening them.
But it’s fascinating too. If the Conscious Eating Community has taught me anything, it’s how to orient toward everything as an opportunity for curiosity and self-discovery.
I have a unique opportunity to explore how much the flavors in food contribute to the enjoyment and satisfaction in eating. (Spoiler: A LOT). I’ve been hyper aware of things like the color of my food, the texture of it, the temperature, and even the acidity.
For example, I’ve been fascinated to learn how much more there is to the experience of drinking orange juice than just the flavor. I’ve begun noticing the thick, pulpy quality, the cold refreshing temperature, and the slight acidity that interacts with the throat on the way down. It’s actually still pretty enjoyable. Roasted potatoes on the other hand, without their flavor, are soooo boooooring. Like eating a ball of soft clay.
It’s also been funny to experiment with trying to trick myself into enjoying food by making it look like something I have an emotional connection with. Yesterday I steamed a butternut squash and blended it with soymilk to make a yellow “cheese sauce” and put it on pasta. It looked exactly like macaroni and cheese. Without the ability to taste it, my brain was almost fooled, and it was able to provide a little bit of emotional comfort. So fascinating!
I joked to my husband that with my loss of taste I would make an excellent garbage disposal for any foods that need using up. Just blend it in up in a smoothie, I won’t be able to tell!
I also have an opportunity to practice meeting some of my emotional needs with other activities besides eating. The emotional needs that I’m the most likely to meet with food are fun, creativity, entertainment, and connection. Maybe it’s a good time to pick up art journaling and reading again.
So, the moral of this story is: FREAKING APPRECIATE HOW DELICIOUS YOUR FOOD IS PEOPLE. How finely can you differentiate the subtle differences in the sensory experiences of food? In a single bite, can you notice the distinct experiences of how it tastes, how it smells, how it feels, how it looks, how it sounds, it’s temperature, and it’s texture?
A single bite of food can be such a rich sensory feast! How important is each aspect of eating for your enjoyment? Which qualities contribute to the most to a feeling of satisfaction?