Why do some people love ‘earthy’ flavours in food?
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Why do some people like the taste of ‘dirt’ in food?
Do they want to eat deep, just dirt – actually some people crave mud – or something more subtle going on?
I am for all earthy tastes. As the pleasure of sniffing the dust of the rising dust after the rain and the fragrance of the ripe earth that welcomed me on board a ship in a hot, humid country, I will gladly taste new potatoes, asparagus And I can eat fresh water trout until I burst. But, well, am I enjoying it so much? Do I just want to eat mud, deep down?
What is common to soil and freshwater fish and new potatoes is that they often have a geo-smile, a protein produced by many bacteria and fungi. Humans are extremely sensitive to smell and can detect it at the rate of 0.1 billion per billion. If you mix it with a spoonful of 200 Olympic swimming pools, you will still be able to smell it. It is not fully understood why we are so attached to the geo-smile. Perhaps there is some clue in the fantasy that the aroma helps the thirsty camel to take it to the desert, or the mango fruit bees are used to determine which yeast they like to eat, whether it is safe or not. Being toxic.
When the soil is poor
When I say I love the taste of clay, I mean in context: a clay miracle is not a pleasant possibility. Beat enemies often refer to their “dirty” taste as off-putting (as I request to be different). But then again, for many people, geosmin is considered a stigma in fish. It is definitely an unwanted guest in alcoholic beverages. Beer and wine testers will also win at its signal. Geosmin stained drinking water is a common problem. The compound is synthesized by blue-green algae, either in reservoirs or in plumbing, so water from a tap that has not been used for some time can taste disturbed soil. Geosmin is not a harmful substance in itself, it’s not just what we expect the drink to taste. Walking in the muddy waters of Hampstead Ladies Pool can be a basic pleasure, but I will not intentionally include them.
Recently, mud has been caught in the tractor beams of Avath-Garde chefs and environmentalists. The Soil Association recently held a soil tasting session in Britol to raise awareness of the damage caused by intensive farming, although this was an imaginary tasting. No soil was eaten. Some chefs, however, have experimented with brown items in their curiosity to get their hands dirty and bring dinner closer to the ground. Japanese chef Yoshihiro Narisawa introduced the concept to Rene Redjepi’s guests at his 2011 Mad Foodcamp (Noma was serving nuts, raisins, mushrooms and what you have at the time) “made edible soil”). Narisawa told the crowd that he was surprised to learn that he liked the pottery soup, which, when cooked well, tasted great. With soil, it is rich in ummi. Girona restaurant seller de Can Roca (“Next Al Buli”) has also been successfully soaked in mud. It’s only a matter of time before the trend reaches a critical mass and Heinz Baked Beans brings a limited edition earth flavor. Mark my words
Geo-metal has been trending in the real world for years. This is sometimes called Pika syndrome. Sera Young, of Cornell University’s Department of Nutrition, found after years of study that people are “very selective about the earth.” They often moisten the earth and sniff to check its quality – the geo-smile is the unique scent they are looking for. Interview with a youth. His mother tried to stop him from going straight out with a spoonful of rain after closing the windows.
It is still not understood why people crave the earth, but we know that this practice is most common in pregnant women and children and in tropical countries. A common theory was that it could boost iron levels in people with anemia, but the evidence now turns out to be the opposite. Not only does iron get absorbed into the earth when eaten, eating the earth actually causes anemia.
The idea that young people have come to understand most is that eating earth can protect against disease and toxins (and perhaps even iron) so that they can pass through the body. Some micro-organisms in the soil also produce antibiotics. This will explain why pregnant women and babies crave the earth the most because they are the most biologically vulnerable. When your cells are rapidly dividing, young people say, you are susceptible to infection. It also fits that cooking occurs in many tropical areas where germs thrive.
The hypothesis that makes most sense to Young is that eating earth can protect against disease and toxins by binding with them (and possibly iron, too) so that they pass through the body. Some microorganisms in the soil also produce antibiotics. This would explain why pregnant women and children crave earth the most because they’re the most biologically vulnerable. When your cells are dividing rapidly, explains Young, you’re more susceptible to infection. It also fits that pica is commonest in the tropics where pathogens thrive.
It happens everywhere though. Among some populations in America, says Young, 60% of pregnant women eat earth. And according to a new documentary Eat White Dirt, it’s undergoing quite a revival in America’s Deep South. Have you ever craved soil? How do you rate earthy foods: delicious or dirty?