What kind of taster are you? Do you have extreme reactions to food? Or does it take a lot to get your taste buds going? I’m what taste researchers call a ‘non-taster’ because I can’t taste anything when I put a slip of paper treated with a funky chemical – phenylthiocarbamide (or PTC, for short)– on my tongue. If you haven’t tried it, beware: I gave the chair of my department a PTC strip once and he made a face that let me know it was the worst thing he had ever tasted. He is a supertaster.
Today I attended the Taste of Sydney festival in Centennial Park. It’s an event where many of the best restaurants put up tents, offer people small portions of great food, and encourage them to have a multifaceted dining experience. My colleague Tom Denson and his wife Nida picked me up, and we zoomed to the festival to meet up with their colleagues Michelle Moulds (clinical psychologist) and Jessica Grisham (clinical psychologist and great-niece of novelist John Grisham). We enjoyed little hamburgers made from Kobe beef, pork belly, ice cream sandwiches, and some nice shrimp concoctions. It was something similar to the Taste of Chicago.
I’m always amazed at how easy it is to bond over a meal. Probably meals were the one time when our evolutionary ancestors had a chance to get together in safety to rest and have a laugh. We had plenty of laughs today. Several of the people I met today were strangers. But after we had enjoyed some food together, we felt a sense of camaraderie that I doubt we would have experienced had we sat at the beach, met at an office building, or done some other activity. Food breaks the ice better than anything.
No matter what kind of taster I am, it didn’t matter today. I enjoyed lots of different types of food, made some new friends, and had an experience that will last a lifetime.