LSFE: Metallogeusia

Pine Nuts: Image from Wikipedia

It’s been an awfully strange week! Because starting this past Sunday everything I ate, no matter how sweet or how salty, all I tasted was bitter. At first I didn’t think much of it, but after two or three days, it kind of freaked me out. Particularly for how much my life revolves around food, having taste issues isn’t exactly ideal. So I did what any paranoid and panicked individual does these days…I googled it!

You’ve all done this before right? You have a symptom. You google the symptom. Then you lose your mind. It’s a good thing Doctors are still in business. But interestingly enough, despite the plethora of major problems google was suggesting I had, a more simple conclusion was mentioned quite a bit: pine nuts. Having snacked on a few handfuls earlier in the weekend, I was happy to accept the information. But 6 days later and only slow progress towards normalcy to speak of, what the hell were these pine nuts up to!

Well if you choose to believe every word the internet says….

The Pinus amandii  and Pinus massoniana species of the tiny nut seems to be invading the traditional exports. Tinier, rounder, and packed with a different make up of fatty acids, some have hypothesized this particular pine nut is the culprit. A metallic taste disturbance, also known as metallogeusia, taking place 1-3 days after consumption and lasting a few days up to a few weeks (yikes) has been shown to be pretty typical.

Whether this is 100% accurate or not, this week has been a serious eye opener. At the risk of sounding dramatic, losing the ability to taste or taste accurately ranks up there with drowning for me; it has to be one of my biggest fears. So all week I’ve tasted and re-tasted dishes hoping they’d turn out perfectly (for Em, for friends, and for my fantastic clients that had me back last night). But hopefully experience took over where my taste failed. Empty plates are always good feedback!

One more thing…For one of the more amazing stories in the culinary world, I’d encourage anyone interested to read about Grant Achatz. The young, succesful, and now famous chef of Alinea in Chicago was diagnosed with tongue cancer back in 07 and lost the ability to taste. His perseverance and ability to thrive as a chef under the worst of times is pretty amazing. You can check out this New Yorker article that was published sometime ago or do some googling on your own!

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