Thursday, March 31, 2011


Reading this article about supertasters made me realize that I haven't ever blogged about what I call "my crazy tongue."

As a kid, when I would stick my tongue out at someone (not all the time, I wasn't a devil child, I swear) they would always remark on my super-textured tongue. When I got my wisdom teeth out the oral surgeon remarked on it, calling it a "topographic tongue." Cool--like a topographic map.

I started to notice that spicy food was pretty challenging for me, increasingly so over time. Certain chiles would make my tongue THROB. The taste is divine, but the sensation is murderous. The article on supertasters addresses this strange discrepancy, pointing out that spice is not a taste but a sensation--not sure I could have articulated that difference before reading the article.

I met a physician with a similarly affected tongue. She described it to me as the cracks and crevices of our tongues causing each taste bud to be more exposed to the food (more surface area) and therefore more sensitive. She confirmed that it gets more extreme with age. I forgot to ask her if she also sometimes tries to wrap her tongue in a flour tortilla as tears stream down her face. Didn't seem like Passover table conversation.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I'm getting older too

Re: the title of this post, I've got "Landslide" on the brain, probably due to a "Glee" episode I watched last night. And apologies in advance if writing about lunch coop all the time is getting old. But this post is about getting old(er) so maybe that's a good thing.

Last night, for lunch coop, I cooked up a spinach barley gratin (a riff on a Deborah Madison recipe) accompanied by Baked Miso Onions. I first had these onions at Laurie's house--in the first apartment she shared with Will, her husband of almost 15 years now. It was in Swarthmore, PA across from the ball fields.

I think the recipe is from "Laurel's Kitchen" a cookbook that seemed a little old and hippie even then. I fell in love with the onions, begged for the recipe, and have been carrying it around on a pink sticky note tucked into an old wooden recipe box ever since. I have brought that wooden box from apartment to apartment to apartment and every few years I pull out the recipe and make miso onions and marvel at their rich complexity and sweetness.

When I think of things like this I am acutely aware of getting older. Of having friends who have been my dear friends for 20, 30 years. Of being the kind of wise old soul who has a darn good recipe for every occasion. Of having a sticky note that is as old as my interns.

Baked Miso Onions (a la Laurel's Kitchen?)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Peel and cut 4 Spanish/sweet onions into quarters
Mix 4 tbsp red miso paste, 4 tbsp olive oil, 3 tbsp tap water and 3tsp dried thyme in a bowl
Place onions in a casserole dish and pour the mixture over the top
Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes
Don't eat them now.
Put them all in a tupperware, pour the liquid from the pan over the onions and let it all sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Then eat them the next day, heated up, over brown rice, or noodles, or polenta, or...spinach barley gratin.