Taking the plunge!

EAT ALL THE THINGS!

Rabbit rabbit! Well, February has arrived and I’m kicking it off by launching this blog, mostly at the behest of some friends who felt my Instagram had to be taken to the next level. Please bear with me through the growing pains of this online venture. WordPress isn’t entirely intuitive to me, so I’m definitely fumbling around like an awkward teenager my usual self. I’m a notorious procrastinator and a bit of a perfectionist, so kiss your hopes of timely updates goodbye. It’s also been ages since I’ve had anything to do with HTML. (GeoCities, anyone? Dang I’m old!)

My friends often ask me for restaurant recommendations because I dine out…like a lot. However, I don’t necessarily feel that qualifies me as someone with an advanced palate. I think this is an important distinction I need to address upfront. A foodie is not synonymous to a gourmet. A foodie is an individual who has a general enjoyment of dining. They embrace the act of eating and the culture that surrounds it: restaurants changing hands, celebrity chefs, cooking shows and competitions, etc. A gourmet has developed more refined tastes and wants to consume only the best food. I know I am not a gourmet because I can go from a six-course tasting menu to tater tot poutine and both provide me with a great deal of satisfaction, which is a huge part of why food is so interesting to me is because it offers such a broad range of complexity.

I’ve never worked in food service and rarely cook at home (boiling water counts, right?), so where the hell did my keen interest in eating come from? It’s a recent development in my life which I can only pinpoint to a course I took in my final year at Gettysburg. Since it primarily dealt with studies on the five senses, there was a tangibility to the class that the rest of the psych curriculum seemed to lack. (Screw you, p < .05!)

  • If you deprive yourself of smell while eating by plugging your nose, you are ‘dumbing’ your palate back down to the most basic tastes. It’s only when the tongue and nose work together that your body can sense specific flavors.
  • Umami was evidently skipped in my elementary school lessons as a basic taste. The easiest way to experience it is with the chemical compound MSG, which produces a meaty/savory sensation. There is discussion of adding a sixth which detects fats.
  • We sampled a tea that temporarily blocked our tongues’ sweetness receptors. For the record, the tablet of Nutra-Sweet (aspartame) basically tasted like poison.
  • Some of us are born with extra fungiform papillae on the tongue and these ‘super-tasters’ often get a bad rap as picky eaters.

Maybe not particularly impressive facts to all of you, at least on a college level, but this stuff just seemed to blow my mind and I started to realize how much I took my three square meals a day for granted. I stopped looking at food merely as sustenance and started seeing it as more of an experience. Some credit for this foodie bug also belongs to a marathon of Top Chef. I was totally captivated by this show because I had never heard dishes discussed at such length or with such suspense (like any half-decent reality show). It was just such an eye-opener to see how much passion and pride each of the contestants had for their field of work.

So long story short (too late), the culinary realm began as a novelty that truly piqued my curiosity and it’s been a runaway train ever since. I’ve developed such respect for those in the industry who want nothing more than to bring pleasure to others through the art of food. I am truly blessed to live in such a vibrant and talented restaurant community like Portland. I look forward to the tasty journey ahead and hope that I can share a fraction of the joy that these local men and women bring to my daily life.

~NOMaste

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