Children’s taste buds

Raise your hand if you enjoy Brussels sprouts; keep your hand up if you loved them as a kid. Ah, no hands raised, I see. Well, of course not. Taste acuity changes over the years. We get habituated to certain foods with time (and locale and spouse). There are probably many foods you like today that you wouldn’t have touched as a kid. To describe an adult, we might use the term “selective eater” while in a child, we call it “picky”. Probably isn’t fair but as we tell our children, LIFE isn’t fair.

Our son has quite the adventuresome palate. It’s HE who chooses the Chef’s Tasting Menu without knowing what the chef had in mind. It’s HE who finished all the appetizer tongue we ate in Munich. It’s HE who has a taste for pheasant. It’s HE who doesn’t like oven roasted vegetables?  You’ve got to be kidding.

I thought that was just the strangest thing until I ran across this study published for the Eighth Panghorn Sensory Science Symposium that I’d love to share (just in case you missed it).  Three groups of children (ages 4-6, 7-8, and 11-12) and a group of young adults (aged 18-25) were the subjects.  They tasted and ranked their preference for the same two foods (carrots and French beans) cooked by varying methods: mashed, steamed, boiled, stir-fried, grilled and deep-fried.

ALL of the subjects preferred the vegetables either boiled or steamed. They preferred a uniform surface and color and the “typical” taste of each vegetable.

And all this time, we parents thought we were enhancing the flavor of those vegetables. Sigh.  Put away the grill pan, turn off the 400 degree oven, and certainly put away any sauces for which you bothered using a recipe. While my husband and I would enjoy some oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, I’ll steam some carrots for dinner tonight.

Eat your vegetables to
Be well,

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