Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sadness involving me and cooking

Here's a fact about me. I have no sense of smell at all. As a result, I can only taste those tastes which can be detected by the taste-buds on my tongue - sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.

Strawberry - sour, occasionally slightly sweet
Banana - usually slightly sweet
Apple - sweet or sour, depending on the variety
Chocolate - bitter and sweet
Chips, pretzels, etc - salty
Cheese - salty
Rice, potatoes, pasta, milk - nothing
Unseasoned meats - nothing
All vegetables - nothing

You get the idea.

I'm upset today, because I'm tired of having the responsibility of doing a job - cooking - in which I can never feel confident that I will have an adequate outcome. I had to make lunch today for a crew of guys who work on our house construction. I went for safe and easy - I made boxed macaroni and cheese. Did you even know that it's possible to screw up boxed macaroni and cheese?

I don't know if perhaps the milk was off, or the margarine, or even the packets of cheese powder, but everyone agreed the meal was strange and nasty, and almost all of the food I prepared went to the dogs (who, by the way, were delighted with it).

For a moment I'd like you to pretend that you're me.

  • First of all, you have the responsibility for making sure that your family and occasionally those outside of your family are fed. You'd like the eating to be a pleasant experience.
  • Second - you can only work with foods you've never tasted before. This will be hard for most of you to even imagine, since you are used to tasting foods. Perhaps you can pretend that you're cooking in some foreign country where they use ingredients you're completely unfamiliar with.
  • Third - you can't taste anything at all before, during or after the preparation of the food, including the "adjust seasonings" part of the venture. To most fully experience what it means to be Trish, you should really find a way to avoid smelling any of the foods you work with, as well.
  • Fourth - you can use a recipe! But, assume that two or more of the ingredients are unavailable where you live, so you have to make substitutions with items which aren't quite the same and are likely inferior to those listed in the recipe (canned peas or spinach in place of frozen, for instance).
  • Fifth - as a wild card, assume that at any moment one or more of the foods you have to work with may be tainted or just taste bad. Good news for you - you can see if the food is moldy. Other than that, you'll probably not know that you've served your family nasty rotten food until they mention it. They will mention it. 

Now, do this faithfully, several times each day, over the course of years. Work hard to improve your skills. Try to think of ways to fail-safe against the potential pitfalls. Deal with the fact that everyone else you know is trying to incorporate healthier foods into their family's diets, while you're increasing the processed foods, as a way to avoid inedible results. Try not to notice as your family picks at their food, or how excited and happy they are when someone else does the cooking. Keep going even when they politely say: "Oh it's fine, Mom" when you cook . . . but say: "WOW this is really great!!!" when someone else cooks.

Teach your daughter to cook. Find that your family enjoys eating again. Cook less and less yourself, thereby forgetting some of the lessons you've learned along the way. Have daughter grow up and move out.

Get frustrated and unhappy all over again.

Sigh. This is me being sad. I'll get over it and be all salamanders and puppies and basement-happiness tomorrow. Today I'm wallowing. Don't show up for dinner - you've been warned!


Beth said...

So have you always had no sense of smell or did you lose it somewhere along the line? I knew a man who lost his sense of smell after a head injury due to a car accident. It does stink for you...but hey, the good news is you can't smell it!!!!!!! Okay that was tacky but I couldn't resist. Would you trade being able to smell for your musical or artistic ability? Just wondering...

Anonymous said...

Oh, Trish, that does sound pretty awful - not even being able to tell if milk has gone sour. I don't think there's any way around that one.

Trish said...

Beth - as far back as I can recall I didn't have any sense of smell. I have had nose/sinus/allergy problems all my life, and I might have had the ability to smell early on and lost it due to those issues. I really don't know for sure.

I've often thought that not having a sense of smell was a bit of a blessing for someone living in a third world country . . . but not while cooking there!

Would I trade? These days, when my involvement in music and art are almost non-existent, I probably would. Earlier in my life, probably not.

Fadedginger - thanks for feeling my pain, my friend! I've been feeling the need for sympathy lately!

Margo said...

Trish, first of all....that really "sucks"....but, did you know:
a) you can make boxed Mac and Cheese with NO butter and NO milk and it tastes just as good, actually better, without those 2 ingredients!
B) if the cheese, included with the boxed Mac and Cheese, is a darker colour than you expect it to is BAD!, add some other shaker cheese to it, or melt some other kind that you happen to have on hand, and it will work fine!
C) you can add tomatoes to Mac and Cheese to a) make it stretch further, or b) change the flavor totally ....

Hope this helps!....don't sweat the small stuff....nobody ever died from bad cheese, or sour milk and butter!

Margo, from Canada, who has a home near La Ceiba and a seafront lot near Trujillo....and...who loves Honduras AND your website!


Anonymous said...

Oops...I just saw that my earlier comment had been accepted and literate, I am not....I leave that to my 3 sons...take good care...I really enjoy your blog...marho

Anonymous said...

Maybe I should send you some easy, fill the tummy, recipes (with actual spice measurements) that have been "tried and true" for my family, for you to try out....I know that certain spices are difficult (okay, impossible) to get in Honduras...unless you go to PriceMart in SAP, but I think I have a bunch that you could kind of work around, if the way, I originally got your site from Kay and Sonny, at, about a year ago...we are friends with them, and also Paul and Linda who own a Vila where we do, near La Ceiba...if you want some easy recipes just let me know...we are all currently trying to grow celery, both in Canada and Honduras, from your instructions of a few months can also grow pineapple (did you know that?) by planting the "tops" friends did it in their house in Canada! Keep your chin up!


Laurie Matherne said...

I love cooking. I love food. I don't like about 80 to 90 percent of the smells in and around town. I can't imagine not being able to smell or taste a full palate of foods. I have uncles who love cooking. I don't think it's for women only in my Cajun culture. Maybe there's a guy around who wants to give it a try. Or maybe when you have a big crew you can get some help from a local woman in exchange for taking a bit home afterward. That would be less wasteful than no one eating the food.