Today I experienced something strange. Tacodeli looked pretty much like it always looks, if perhaps a bit busier than it had been thus far. But something wasn't quite right. I ordered the Shrimp Taco and Puerco Borracho (as suggested by two friends), and sat down to wait.
The Shrimp Taco, "Savory grilled Texas Gulf shrimp served Frontera Fundido style," wasn't bad. Nothing to write home about, but not bad. I give it 0.6 moles.
The Puerco Borracho, "Slow-roasted, succulent pork braised in tequila and sherry and seasoned with fresh basil and pasilla peppers," was different, though. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? From the moment it came, something was off to me about it. It just didn't look appealing. And then I tasted it, and it didn't taste appealing, either. It tasted like salt and anger. It didn't like being in my mouth. I was able to smother it in doña sauce and make it taste pretty adequate, so I'm giving it 0.2 moles, but honestly that's partly just in case something is worse. I wouldn't recommend it at all.
But two of my friends did recommend it. Being the geek I am, that triggered me to do some quick online research, and eventually to begin devising an experiment which we will soon conduct to get to the bottom of this. Let's start with the online bits.
Then I remembered an extra clue: Jessica likes to put salt on just about everything, and has acknowledged this before; I, on the other hand, almost never salt things. It seemed like she had less of a salt sense than I do. So I went looking to see if it's possible that she just has fewer salt taste buds than I do. It turns out, no, there's no such things. Taste buds taste everything. I had a vague feeling that the taste map thing we learned in school was maybe an over-simplification, but it turns out it's complete BS. So no, she doesn't have fewer salt taste buds than I do. So that leaves a few possibilities:
- She has fewer taste buds than I do in total (well, technically, a lower density of taste buds, but whatever).
- Her sense of salt taste specifically is somehow weaker than mine. For example, perhaps the sodium pumps in her cells have a mutation that makes them work... umm, better or worse, whichever would result in her tasting salt less.
- We just perceive it differently. She likes the taste of salt more than I do, for example.
- Mine happened to be saltier than hers. Oops.
So that leads us to the experiment we're designing. The general consensus (such that there is) is that there are five tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and savory (umami). Those all have things that would be easy to dilute and sample (a little bit of salt water; some sugar water; maybe some coffee or cocoa powder in water; lemon juice; MSG). So, I don't have the full design yet, but basically we can test how dilute of a concentration each of us can taste. We need to figure out proper "I think I taste it" controls, though, so any suggestions would be welcome. And, to be clear, this will absolutely happen; this is the sort of thing my friends and I do.
So anyhoo. Isn't taste weird? I'm just glad this thing tasted super salty to me, because most of flavor is really smell, and that's way more complicated.
Anyhoo, here's a summary for today:
- Shrimp Taco: 0.6 moles
- Puerco Borracho: 0.2 moles
- Science: 1 hellamole
Tomorrow I may get a Scallop Taco again, but I may go with two new things. Does anyone have a recommendation that isn't super salty?