(Image from the WiseGEEK site)
This post is going to be one of those thoughtful ones. If you are hoping for something light and amusing, then wait until the next one. Now that I’m back home, I have time to reflect on life, and something has been bothering me this week.
Why the image? One of the effects of getting older has crept up on me and taken me by surprise. I have been quite pleased that my eyesight is still good (at least well enough to drive without glasses, but I do need to use reading glasses). My hearing is so/so – in a crowded cafe I strain to hear a person talking softly to me, and I know I inch the volume up on the remote control more than perhaps the average younger person of my acquaintance. But in general it’s fine. What ISN’T so fine, is my taste. A few months ago I thought my sinus problems after a cold were affecting my taste, but it is now a good while since I suffered issues in my nose, and yet I feel I’ve still not got my ‘flavours’ back.
What clinched it for me was the trip overseas to the States just now. You see, here in NZ, we generally have food which is less processed, and meat, particularly, straight from the fields – which gives it a strong flavour. Visitors from the USA have commented at how much it tastes like game. While I was over there recently I was disappointed when I cooked up a pork loin, because I could barely discern that it had come from a pig. Same with beef. So I returned home prepared to enjoy a burst of flavour on my tongue. . . but ZIP. Nada.
See this delicious looking salad:
It’s a black rice, turmeric chicken salad, with nasturtiums, scorched lemon, cauliflower, and mesclun, and the textures were just great. I KNOW it was bursting with flavour, but I struggled to feel the impact. My heart really did sink. I immediately googled ‘losing tastebuds in old age’, and sure enough, it really DOES happen. I can only imagine that is what is happening to me.
Now before you get too downcast on my behalf, I did take myself in hand – pulling myself up by the collar, so to speak. I found that it is possible to improve the sense of taste – one of the most obvious things is to season my dishes more with herbs and spices. I could quite possibly endure the hot curry flavours I’ve hitherto found too hot. And most importantly, I pondered this profound thought:
I’ve always taken great pleasure in eating food – and at this stage, that is really starting to show in my body shape. One thing that could well HELP me take a firm hand on my eating habits, is if I let this sense of failing taste be a guide to my intake. Seriously. Eat less, find that which I can enjoy and sample a smaller portion of it. Do ye ken what I mean? I felt better when I thought of that. The other thing I want to grapple with, as I consider this, is the idea that although my tastebuds might be failing, my sampling of LIFE need not be at all affected. In fact, I could actually swap some of the time I have spent transfixed upon my next culinary treat, becoming caught up with things far more profitable. I have an inner life as well, that could do with going deeper, and the experience enjoyed on that plane can only get better.
So, I’m going to move on, and transfer previous sensory experience for new as yet unchartered territory. I’m happy to hear your own experiences in this area too.