Thursday, February 21, 2013

Whole Wheat and Graham Crackers

I promise to talk about whole wheat and those graham crackers I put the dried strawberries in but first of all we are going to talk about taste buds. Reason being that my disappointment in the graham crackers is partly because of the strain of whole wheat I chose, partly my taste buds fault, and also my lack of age. Confused, well lets see if I can clear a few things up.

First of all pay no attention to the lovely charts you see on the Internet about where your taste buds are on your tongue because that chart is shunned by serious researchers. Bitter, sweet, salty, and sour taste buds are all over the upper surface of the tongue, soft palate, upper esophagus and epiglottis, which are called papillae. As for the number of taste buds one has? The range is from 2,000 and up to 10,000 in others.

I do have a dramatically different number of taste buds in comparison to my husband and daughter. Case in point, last summer Kirk, Toni, and I were at a barbecue eatery. We all tried out difference sauces to put on the sandwiches we had ordered. One of the sauces had a bit of heat involved. For me, all I could taste were the hot peppers, nothing else. Kirk and Toni on the other hand tasted a blend of spices and a hint of mustard. Needless to say they really liked it and I didn't and was drinking lots of water wishing I had a glass of cold goat milk.

Am I one of those super tasters with lots and lots of taste buds. Not likely since super tasters don't like vegetables very much because they taste bitterness so intensely. They also find very sweet desserts over the top sugary. Oh.... I do like my sugar.

" Bartoshuk recommends an easy at-home test: Apply a couple of drops of blue food color to your tongue and swallow a few times. Then examine your tongue's surface; papillae won’t pick up the dye, so they’ll look like pink polka dots on a blue background. If your tongue appears to be almost solid pink, then you have tons of fungiform papillae and may be a supertaster."

Medication, smoking, burning your tongue on hot foods or drinks, or hormones can all change your sense of taste. Luckily Ttaste buds have a cycle of seven to fourteen days. So even though you may damage them, they will return.

Taste buds pick up sour, salty, bitter, sweet, and umani (MSG). Fat may also be added as some research is favorable in this area.   Flavor is the combination of taste plus smell.  Taste sending a message to one part of the brain and smell to another. Then there is temperature and texture which also play a factor in whether you like something or not. I'm one of those kids who was super sensitive to texture and taste. Autism can be a huge factor in the texture area. None of my foods could touch as a child and I ate one thing completely before eating another. I want you to know it took me forty years to move beyond that.

I would say there is a third thing involved. I'm not scientist so this is just my opinion, but I'd say association is also involved. How do you otherwise explain why food tastes so much better in the mountains? Or why when you have a severe case of the flu after eating a specific food, you no longer like it anymore. And yes, you can learn to like foods. Like being the key word sometimes. I like broccoli. Disliked it as a child but through eating a little bit time after time after time,  it is okay, not a thriller, just okay. When I eat it I think of my kids when they were little and called it trees and I smile. Cauliflower on the other hand, despite repeated efforts, just hasn't moved up even into the tolerant category. Cottage cheese is a different story. I didn't like it so much as a kid but I think texture was a big factor. Thanks to its association with Kirk, I now very much like it. Not as much as he does but still, it's pretty good.

 So what does this have to do with whole wheat? Well winter and spring wheat has phenolic acid and tannin, chemicals with a bitter taste. That is the overwhelming response I get with the use of these grains.  I once more did a taste test with the whole wheat grahmn crackers I had made only I had  Kirk taste them at the same time. He didn't pick up the slightest hint of bitterness, lucky him! As I thought, what's a girl to do? I have buckets of that kind of wheat. Maybe my hope lies with menopause. Think I'm kidding, I'm not, for menopause causes a decrease in the ability to taste bitterness because of the change in hormones. Think about pregnant women who crave pickles and ice cream -- together. Yup, those crazy hormones can do crazy things.

It might be a while though because I'm ten years behind on my eyes changing to the bifocal stage so who knows about menopause.

What can I do until then? Well, the three batches of crackers before this one I loved. I used white wheat, not red wheat. White wheat doesn't have phenolic acid and tannin -- neither does, spelt, or Kamut. I can see my supply of these grains won't be enough to get me by until then and hope indeed my taste buds do change.  .
What about other grains, do they have phenolic acid and tannins too? I am hitting a blank on the Internet. So the answer is yet to be discovered by me. I do know that quick oats get a bitter taste when old. Is it these acids coming to the surface or have they just gone rancid? The answer I don't know.

We'll talk more about grains later but I almost forgot. I couldn't taste the strawberry bits because of the overwhelming bitterness masking everything else. Poo....h! Wish I knew if they enhanced the cracker's flavor.

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