When Cheese Tastes Like Dirty Socks and Other Taste Bud Issues
During an evening out with some friends, we were comparing notes on our likes and dislikes of cheese. This branched into a discussion of dirty socks and dirty underwear which had us laughing quite hard, but it was actually all about the variations of taste buds.
My taste buds have been cultivated by the generations that came before me. I definitely have the Mediterranean (Israeli) blood because I love Mediterranean food and olives, and weird fish like sardines. I love ethnic food, in particular, my Jewish ethnic food. Give me a deli that serves these delicacies and I am in heaven.
I also love anything sweet, carbohydrate, and dairy. That includes cheese – which I absolutely am passionate about, with the exception of gross ones like head cheese, Limburger cheese and the like.
I can’t tolerate Bleu Cheese. As I described it to someone, it is so sharp to my tastebuds, it is like a needle going straight up into my skull. Is that a vivid enough picture for you?
Getting back to a double date with friends Liz and Neil, who love to be adventurous with food, they shocked both me and my husband by announcing that they hated goat cheese, perhaps the most bland, benign cheese ever.
Liz matter-of-factly, and with a straight face, explained that to her, goat cheese smelled and tasted like dirty socks. Her husband concurred that goat cheese tastes like dirty socks. Which is really curious because when have they tasted dirty socks?
I then explained that Bleu Cheese tastes like dirty underwear. And no, I have never sampled that but I was trying to make a point. Bleu Cheese, a very sharp cheese with just as many detractors as lovers, is so awful to some people, that it is worse than dirty socks.
The conversation then turned very silly with a discussion of how brussel sprouts taste like dirt to me. You can see how mature we were during this conversation, but they are two of our most mature and grown-up friends.
We then talked about garlic and agreed that we all love garlic. (I actually know a few people who HATE garlic if you can believe that.) My husband explained that he has to be careful about how much he consumes before hockey because he sweats so much and the smell of garlic comes right out of his sweat glands. I recalled how many times I could tell when the person next to me in Bikram Yoga, where we don’t just sweat, but we become puddles (schvitz to use the Yiddish vernacular) had eaten a big garlicky Italian meal.
There is a point this this though. What tastes awful to one person is delightful to someone else because taste buds are unique for each and every person. And sometimes there’s just no accounting for taste.