food diplomacy through the story of a meal

A good appetite, but everything tastes terrible

For a foodie, an off palate is a terrible thing to have.  While I am hungry, my palate has not been cooperative.  I have returned to eating regular food (except for raw, nuts, sugar, and bread).  I have put my toe in the water for all kinds of food, however nothing hits the spot.

Let’s Be Frank hot dogs with grilled onions (without the bun) – no go
• Crustless quiche with mozzarella, butternut squash and pancetta – no go
•  Turkey burger, avocado and fat-free 1000 Island dressing (without the bun) – no go
•  Chicken makhani, yellow lentils, and raita – no go

What do I need to do to feel sated?  Just when I thought I was over sugar-free popsicles, I find that it is the only thing I want to eat.

It is strange that what you want and what your body wants are sometimes at odds with each other.  Taste is not singularly located in the mouth.  There are two cranial nerves that innervate the tongue and are used for taste: the facial nerve (cranial nerve VII) and the glossopharyngeal nerve (cranial nerve IX).

The facial nerve innervates the anterior (front) two-thirds of the tongue and the glossopharyngeal nerve innervates that posterior (back) one-third part of the tongue.

Another cranial nerve (the vagus nerve, X) carries taste information from the back part of the mouth. The cranial nerves carry taste information into the brain to a part of the brain stem called nucleus of the solitary tract. From the nucleus of the solitary tract, taste information goes to the thalamus and then to the cerebral cortex. Like information for smell, taste information also goes to the limbic system (hypothalamus and amygdala).

Given the complex relationship between our mouth and brain, I think it is important to know what is going on post-surgery.  Many other folks post about this problem, and there isn’t a sufficient answer as to why it happens, however it does end.

I have been walking farmers’ markets, viewing cooking shows, and reading cookbooks to find inspiration, creativity, and sustenance–but it is not coming.

In light of this, I will turn my attention to people whose food and culture is foreign to me and see what blooms.  I will be spending 10 days with individuals from Norway, Netherlands, Nigeria, UAE, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, India Canada, the UK, Russia, and Eastern Europe, etc. and hope that as we get to know one another, that their food stories will give me some much-needed inspiration.

I deeply believe that the sharing of a meal connects us.  Food, cooked with love, nourishes the body, the soul, and creates relationships.  I raise my fork to gastro-diplomacy. (For more information about gastro-diplomacy, please read the following posts on the USC Center on Public Diplomacy’s website or read Paul Rockower’s blog on the Huffington Post.)

L’Aus Du Fallafel, 34 rue Des Rosiers, 4ème arr.

The BEST falafel in Paris can be found in the Jewish Quarter.  It was a religious experience.


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