Monday, December 12, 2005

The Western Palate

I've been considering the types of food that we eat recently, and I'm rapidly approaching the need to make a sweeping generalisation.

The Western Palate is amazingly focused on the sweet end of the taste spectrum.

I've found that when we find a taste we aren't familiar with, one of three things happens.
1. We refuse to consume
2. We drown it in sugar
3. We drown it in salt

Bear in mind that this is by no means an attack. I love sugar on my corn flakes, salt on my chips and I refuse point blank to eat scallops (little bastards have made me vomit more than once).
I do think it's an interesting idea though. Where are the savoury drinks? Savoury desserts? Sure, chai lattes are meant to be spicy but we've Westernized this drink into a hot sugary cup of milk with some cinnamon waved over top of it. Unfortunately this misses the ginger, peppercorns and cardamom that you would otherwise find if you were to try a cup from somewhere other than Starbucks or Gloria Jean's. I see that I'm starting to move towards discussing the evils of fast foods outlets who sacrifice quality for turnover. I think I'll stop now so I can blog about that next time.


At 11:26 am, Blogger Nathan Zamprogno said...

I'm sure that entire books have been written about why the Western palate has a sweet tooth, but I agree that we're missing out on a whole heap of experiences we'd get a lot out of. When I went to Thailand, I hadn't previously given a second thought to Thai food. What I came back with was a respect for some amazing flavours I'd never encounter in a lifetime of mere Western food. In fact, let's reverse the situation. Imagine you grew up in another culture: Indian, Thai, Malay, whatever. If you went and visited Australia, the US or UK and wanted to visit an "authentic" Australian (~Western) restaurant for a taste of the culture, what impression would you take away? Almost anyone could do a blindfold test of an Indian dish and pick it as such, and I dare say the same for Chinese and Thai as well. It's distinctive. Is there a distinctive taste combination as the signature for Australian cuisine? I suspect not (unless it's like one of those things like an accent: people pick it overseas but you'd never notice it at home)

BTW. I've only just come down from the roof from Sunday's coffee. Apparently Justin had the same problem. I think you should need a licence to dispense that stuff!

At 1:13 pm, Blogger Joel Baltaks said...

Australia hasn't had enough time to evolve its own distinct class of cuisine - it's really derived from british and other european countries. Something like mutton and mashed potatoes is very australian, but personally I very rarely eat a meal like this.

I think the main issue is that people don't tend to cook for themselves so much - we often eat the processed foods from a supermarket rather than starting with the fresh ingredients from the fruit market and the butcher. This is where you're finding overly salty and sweet food.

We're really lucky in a city like Sydney that we have such a diverse range of cuisines available due to the multicultural population.

Thinking about it, I'd say it is fair to say we have a sweet and salty pallette, as opposed to, say, indians who have a very hot and spicy pallette.

At 10:03 am, Blogger Grant said...

That'll teach you to drink instant Nathan!

At 10:05 am, Blogger Tam said...

The great thing about taste buds is that they are so diverse. In fact, while there are the sweet, salty, sour (plus one more? can't remember) in the western palette, the Asian nations have labeled a spot on their tongue, (towards the tip), which combines all flavours but has no distinguishing majority. It is suggested that the western palate has not evolved this far as yet; a possible reason for why some people find their palates are not accepting of real Asian food (read: food that is authentic, not just served from a fast food outlet, catering to Aussie tastes).


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