Tactile sensitivities related to food taste, temperature and texture, make trying new things difficult. As a risk-averse person who wants to know ahead-of-time if new foods are “safe” to try, I find the idea of The Flavor Bible to be very empowering.
Written by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, The Flavor Bible (Little, Brown and Company, 2008) offers an alphabetized listing of foods and ingredients with essential details about taste.
Page and Dornenburg explain that many factors go into the experience of flavor: these are taste, “mouthfeel” (temperature and texture), aroma and the “X Factor,” which they describe as the emotional response to food. “When we are present to what we are eating,” they say, “food has the power to affect our entire selves.”
When you consider that I have had many negative experiences related to trying new foods, you might understand that a lot of new foods will be accompanied by negative “X Factor.”
- As a very young child, having an adult attempt to force-feed me chocolate cake (an incident about which I have no conscious memory; I rely on witness testimony)
- Adults demanding that I “clear my plate” of food that made me gag
- Being criticized as a “brat” at a family reunion because the only food I could tolerate was gone and what was left was food I couldn’t eat
- When trying a cherry: being laughed at because I couldn’t separate the pit from fruit in-mouth and spat the entire mass out
- At an adult gathering, a woman deciding to “fix a plate” for me, forcing me to get rid of unwanted foods that I was unable to eat
- At food-sample kiosks, presenters refusing to accept my polite refusals, attempting to “foodsplain” why I should eat this chocolate, or other unappealing substance
With these experiences part of my history, I approach new foods deliberately. I don’t rush in; I want to know what might be in store.
The Flavor Bible wasn’t written specifically for a readership with food sensitivities; its main purpose is to help cooks who want to move beyond following recipes toward making their own creations. But sometimes something intended for a particular demographic can make things better for everyone. I believe The Flavor Bible will be an indispensable resource for approaching new foods while navigating tactile sensitivities.