Sunday, March 21, 2010

becoming broccoli

The psychological study of the human gustatory system is undergoing some exciting changes. Where gustatory equals taste. Not the study of human wind making, as the name might imply. Taste. As in, taste buds.

One of the most robust areas of gustatory research involves assisting individuals change their taste preferences.

Let's take me, for example. I detest steamed broccoli.

Not a problem in and of itself, right? But the fact is my entire family loves steamed broccoli.

Now, I do happen to love steamed spinach. My entire family, however, hates steamed spinach.

Would you think me paranoid if, some evenings, I believe there's a conspiracy?

My solution, thus far, has been to serve both veggies on the same night. A pain. Two steamer baskets. One cooks in the microwave while the other waits on standby. In. Out. In. Out. All while keeping the gravy from burning.

But rather than this dual-menu method, I want to avoid the whole inconvenience by training either my entire family (n=4) to love steamed spinach, or more plausible, train myself (n=1) to love steamed broccoli.

But is this possible?

Yes, says Dr. Glozell Green of UT-C. I was thrilled when I found a video featuring her study. Quite easy to follow, Dr. Green's experimental module utilizes a single subject, A-B-A withdrawal design. It illustrates the effectiveness of a taste-palatability-improvement program. Where the study participant featured has a strong dislike of cilantro and where repeated exposure sets out to change her strong dislike into a like.

Does this program work?

Take a look and see for yourself while I steam myself a basket of broccoli:


Rachel Cotterill said...

I'll be fascinated to hear whether this works for you. I suppose the whole concept of an 'acquired taste' hints at the possibilities.

Magpie said...

Garlic. Steamed broccoli needs lots of garlic, and some olive oil and salt. And you need to steam it on the stove top, not in the microwave. Almost a steam-saute.

Tammy said...

Hahahaha! I had to turn the sound down, I was afraid I'd have to listen to her throw up.

My son is a picky eater... No he's beyond picky, way, way beyond picky. He's so picky that no one believes me. A doctor told us to have him pick a food that he would like to like and feed it to him for 10 days straight, starting with one bite, two bites and so on.

We found out that he also has a very effective gag/puke reflex...

Good luck with your experiment!

Jason, as himself said...

You can tell who watched the Glozell video and who didn't, can't you?

OMG I was laughing hysterically. She cracked me up!!!

I want you to make a video just like this one, only with steamed broccoli.

Jenn@ You know... that blog? said...

I can't wait to hear if this works for you!

Disgusting, but hilarious video. Shoving the whole thing in her mouth maybe wasn't the best way to go about it... gross. Had to turn it off after the 3rd go!

Personally, I love broccoli, and spinach (either fresh in a salad or mixed with something else when cooked) but the gravy I could do without ;)

Have a fabulous day, my friend!

Kathleen Scott said...

Oh that was funny. I wondered if it worked if she didn't swallow (where have we heard that before?).

So what do you think? Power of suggestion?

Are you going to post your broccoli video?

My solution would be to roast the broccoli--roasting converts the bitter to sweet. Guaranteed to work.

Or make creamed spinach (standard white-sauce but make it healthy with olive oil & low-fat milk; a dash of nutmeg gives a subtle shift in flavor). Even confirmed spinach-haters like spinach converted to creamy.

Wendi said...

Love it. I hate cilantro, too.

Eager to hear if this works!

shrink on the couch said...

Rachel -- I'm not as brave as Dr. G, it turns out.

Magpie -- I've tried stove top in a metal basket, in a saute pan, on the grill, and now the microwave (very short cook time). I like nada, even the slightest cook time. But the fam loves it in the 'wave so I choose the fastest clean up time.

Tammy -- Oooh, 10 days even more arduous than the 7 recommend by Dr. G.

Jason -- This post inspired after listening to my son in next room laughing his butt off. I had to check it out! Now I'm hooked on Glozell. As for a video of myself, don't hold your broccoli breath ! LOL!

Jenn -- Ok, confession time. Nary a broccoli bud has crossed my taste buds.

Kathleen -- LOL to the swallowing. Right now my kids all like raw spinach (and I like raw broccoli) so we manage. AKA, afraid of trying creamed, I might like it so much I get hooked. Besides.. my secret, never-tell-a-soul ingredient in various dishes, such as spaghetti sauce, is chopped spinach. But ... ssshhh!

snugglebug said...

I hate cilantro, too. Maybe I'll try it. If it works, then I will try it with other stuff because I am a really picky eater.

Susan said...

My husband doesn't like broccoli but he likes broccolini (broccoli rabe) - have you tried that? It is milder.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I love almost all vegetables, so I'm no help.

The only two I loathe are peas and carrots. Strange, no?

We do have a cilantro divide in our family. Since I'm the cook AND the one that loves it, cilantro does make an appearance.

Margo said...

This woman would sure be fun to have at your next party. She is truly unforgettable. And what a great party game!

Jocelyn said...

Here's what I love: boil broccoli in well-salted water until it's tender to the fork (actually BOIL it, right in the water). Drain it. Then grate parmesan over the top of it. NUM.

Or you, as a family, could leave spinach and broccoli and try for a new in-common green. If you wilt swiss chard, for example, on the stovetop and then douse it with some balsamic vinegar and pine nuts, it's crazy good.

Notice how I ignore the idea of changing a palate? That would mean I could cut down on chocolate and wine if I wanted to.

And I don't want to want to.

Glennis said...

Broccoli - I can eat it, but I don't love it. My husband loves it.

I agree with Magpie - garlic helps.

e.beck.artist said...

our family is the same ... they all like broccoli and i tolerate it .... serve it all the time ... but also make them all eat spinach occassionally .... i try to have three vegetable choices and you have to pick two ... it would work better if they ate spinach though ...

gross video ... how did you find it?

Anonymous said...

I didn't watch the video because I'm on an ancient computer, so it always makes my computer freeze if I watch videos. Sigh.

As far as I can gather, though, this experiment is about changing one's reaction to a particular *taste* of food. However, what happens if it's not the taste that bothers you, but the texture? I've developed a real dislike recently for vegetables which go all mushy when you cook them - aubergines (or "eggplants" to you Americans) and squash. It's weird because I never used to mind, but now they repulse me. Ugh! So slimey!

shrink on the couch said...

petrichoric -- I hope you find your way to a computer that can allow you to see this. it's good for a deep throated, tear-stained laugh.

blognut said...

OMG! I was gagging just listening to her gagging!

That was hysterical!

shrink on the couch said...

blognut -- Thank you for validating my deranged humor, which apparently runs in the family. I am no closer to liking broccoli but I do love cilantro!