Our palate is so flexible that it is capable of enjoying disgusting for some but delicious for others

Our palate is so flexible that it is capable of enjoying disgusting for some but delicious for others

The flexibility of our palate is extraordinary, and in large part it is something learned (although there is a biological, innate basis). That is why there are cultures where it is normal to eat things that in others are vomitory, such as blood sausage, cyberpunk or a rotten basking shark.

It is also true that, in general, our sense of taste is so limited that it is easily distorted by smell, since it is 10,000 times more intense than the sense of taste . In 2007, Malika Auvray and Charles Spence published a study in which they pointed out that if we feel that something has a strong smell while we eat it, the brain tends to interpret it as a taste.

Cultural flavors

The taste for more complex or diverse flavors is forged in the first years of age. If in these early years the child is not exposed to a certain variety, later it will be difficult for him to dare to cross a large part of the gastronomic frontiers.

In fact, cultural disgust for food can run so deep that even when you are starving, it is preferable not to eat .

For that reason, when we reject a food there is not always a bourgeois fussy behind it. As the expert Bee Wilson abounds in this book The First Bite :

In most unusual food situations, it is easy for disgust to outweigh hunger. It is false that there is a state of absolute hunger in which children would eat anything. Among the hungriest children on the planet, hunger remains concrete and not abstract. She cannot be satisfied by anything.

The paradigmatic example of how a culture is so rare that it eats things that may seem inconceivable to us is the following: a part of the description of the banquet served in the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom , extracted from the literary adaptation of James Kahn :

A second plate had been placed on the table by the servants. This time it was a steaming, boiled boa constrictor garnished with fried ants. One of the servants made an incision in the central part of the reptile from which a mass of convulsive eels sprouted.

We talk more extensively about this scene, as well as the limits of disgust, the most disgusting foods, and also all the disgusting things that we eat without realizing it (fecal remains, rat hairs or fly eggs, among others) in the following video that we recommend watching only if you are not eating something right now :