Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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food sensitivity test kit

5alpha-androst-16-en-3-one, how I love thee
  [vote for,

People differ in how much of what they can smell. This isn't about allergy, just about sensitivity - bring up the subject at any dinner, and suddenly the table's full of ginger-supertasters, celery-haters, onion-smellers and people who cannot abide this or that root vegetable. Almost everyone's a mutant!

Just like we have test kits for allergic reactions, I would love for there to be a test kit that I could order, that would present me with small samples of various chemicals, which I would open, sniff, and rate on pleasantness and strength.

The result of this would be a flavor sensitivity profile, perhaps in a standardized format, that I could hand over when making a reservation at a restaurant. This would tell the chefs roughly how to adjust their seasonings to create the same effect in my head that they're creating in their own; and it would allow me to stop trying to "warm up to" dishes other people find delicious that I'm physiologically unable to appreciate.

jutta, Jan 04 2010


       Vinegar, oh how I hate thee....
swimswim, Jan 04 2010

       Yes [+].   

       You could maybe also use it to prepare mystery ideal recipes or customise a recipe collection. Or, to make deliberately nasty-tasting prescriptions to maximise the placebo effect.
nineteenthly, Jan 04 2010

       I think it would be fun, but I don't think it would be a big hit with restaurants because   

       (a) varying each recipe to match a complex profile is probably not going to go down well with a stressed chef and   

       (b) I don't see the advantage it gives, compared to the subtleties of personal subjective preference. It may be interesting to know that you really are hypersensitive to onion and deficient in receptors for cinnamon, but doesn't alter the flavours you like or dislike. After all, if you know you hate onion or need extra cinnamon to get the effect, surely you just say "I'll have the oyster cheesecake, but hold the onions and go heavy on the cinnamon."
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 04 2010

       It might be interesting to generate these profiles purely so that they can be compared with people's personal subjective preferences.   

       Perhaps there would be some statistically significant correlation between the profile results and the people who do / do not say "hold the onions and go heavy on the cinnamon". Even more interestingly, maybe the correlation would be different to what our current understanding of taste perception would predict - giving us an opportunity to improve the underlying science somehow.
Wrongfellow, Jan 04 2010

       Wow! I had no idea, but this makes perfect sense. I'd be intrigued to see a kit for each of the senses. I seem to have hyper acute senses and would love to see them quantified. I also agree with [MB] that it is unlikely chef's will adjust prep for individual tastes, but maybe that just means I have to eat at better restaurants. This seem right down the alley for some place like WD-50.   

       Bunned just for the coolness of knowing a little bit more about myself and others.(+)   

       PS shouldn't you also add something to gauge your five types of taste buds?
MisterQED, Jan 04 2010

       I think it'd be interesting to see how maps change as we age. There was a time when I couldn't stand spinach...
phoenix, Jan 04 2010

       Now that, Phoe, would be intriguing and a fascinating application of this.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 04 2010

       since there are only 4 or 5 taste/smell receptor types(?), you'd think science would have come up with a calibration test for them somewhere along the line... but think of the possibilities for walking into a foreign restaurant, handing them your taste card and having them choose dishes for you.   

       [MQED] chef's probably wouldn't (and wouldn't have to), but imagine a fast-food restaurant sprinkiling a little special spice on. "Have it, Your Way" indeed.
FlyingToaster, Jan 04 2010

       //since there are only 4 or 5 taste/smell receptor types//   

       No no no! There are only a handful of taste receptor types in humans, but there are about 3-500 different odor receptor types (though I'm not sure everyone expresses all of them).   

       Flavour is a combination of smell and taste: taste provides very basic and limited information, but smell conveys most of the subtleties of flavour. (For example, European milk chocolate activates the sweet taste receptors, but it tastes very different from sugar; the difference is mostly smell).   

       Because of the complexity of smell, I think a "map" would only be a sampling of the true picture.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 04 2010

       still, 3-500 isn't a totally overwhelming number: the test could take a couple hours.
FlyingToaster, Jan 04 2010

       Flavor sensitivty perhaps depends more on ones eating habits than mutations, but indeed varies wildly from person to person. [+]
Inyuki, Jan 05 2010

       Maybe every restaurant should have a swishable dye that shades sensitive taste buds.
DrWorm, Jan 05 2010


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