Taste What You’re Missing!

Barb Stuckey’s Taste What You’re Missing: The Passionate Eater’s Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good” provides an in-depth explanation for one of the most pleasurable and important aspects of living — eating food. In a language that is easily understandable even for folks who do not have strong food science background, Stuckey has successfully rendered me many times more aware of my senses anytime food is in my general vicinity. After reading this book, I am equipped with a basic knowledge of how each of my senses affect my “sensory experience” of consuming food, the different building blocks of taste, how professional tasters taste (and you can too!), and a good argument for why on a gastronomical level urban agriculture is preferable to industrial.

A professional food developer at Mattson, Stuckey has spent decades of her life honing her taste buds and has experienced many fine dining establishments all over the world. Living in San Francisco, Stuckey provides many eating examples in her book from times she has eaten out around the city with her husband and friends. This book reminded me of Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste excerpt that we read in class; even including a similar example of how people without tongues eat.

Taste What You’re Missing is divided into four different sections: The Workings of the Senses, The Basic Tastes, The Nuances of Flavor, and Putting it All Together (a section on balancing flavor in recipes). My favorite section was the first one on the senses. I was fascinated by how each one of my senses could contribute to my eating experience. For example, Stuckey explained how our expected sound of a food, the crunch of a potato chip, for example, could affect how we perceive a food tastes. If a particular potato chip lacks that satisfying crunch sound, we are prone to wonder if the chip may be stale or otherwise unsatisfactory, and thus enjoy the snack significantly less.

As stated previously, Taste What You’re Missing is written in a very easy to follow language. Stuckey’s tone is that of an experienced eater who is seemingly simply entertaining you with a conversation about food over dinner. Much of her content provides advice for restaurant owners on how to properly hone one’s establishment to enhance patron experience, and clues for patrons on signs of good/bad eateries. While the audience she is writing for seems to be more of the older, wealthier individuals who will have more resources to eat out at nice restaurants, Stuckey writes of something obviously universal.

That being said, after reading this book I feel there is much content inside that can be applied to urban agriculture. Namely, there are many taste benefits to produce grown on an urban farm versus on a faraway industrial farm. Stuckey discusses how tomatoes on an industrial farm, for example, are grown with the need for hardiness for transport in mind, and thus are lacking in juiciness and volatile content. Urban agriculture, on the other hand, is grown right around the corner from the mouth that will consume it, and thus the farmer can focus on making that heirloom tomato as juicy, aromatic and volatile heavy as possible.

All in all, this book is a great read for those of us who eat, which is hopefully everybody. Taste What You’re Missing helps you do just what the title says — experience the nuances behind food and sharpen your “eye” for good food.

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Garden Update : February 15th, 2013

Hello everyone!

A sighting! Today I saw a beautiful bright red strawberry growing off of one of our strawberry plants. It was beautiful. I’m not going to show you my picture of it, because I think a real-life viewing will be so much more gratifying for you all. Also, I lost the chord that connects my camera to my computer.

It was quite hot today, so the plants were particularly thirsty. I spent a long time watering. In total I think it was about 15 trips with the watering can to get the job done. Only then did I realize why our prof was saying in class that there should be paid student jobs for maintaining the garden — it’s work!

Other than that, I saw a lot of our recently sowed seeds have begun to sprout. Carrots, arugula,  and a few other herbs in our herb box.

It’s really cool to see our garden growing and getting more organized. Our work is really starting to show everyone!

The strawberry was beautiful.


Garden Update : February 8th

I trekked up to Sunset Rec around 3:30 this afternoon. It had rained earlier in the morning so I knew to go a little easier on the watering this time around. Everyhing was quite sirene at the garden — until the softball team showed up for practice. Nevertheless, I continued my duties and made a couple observations…

Shrooms! In multiple beds I found numerous white bulbs beginning to peep their way out of the soil. Is this ok? Is this indicative of us overwatering the plants, or just part of winter? Whatever the case, this is something we should address at our next field day.

Mushaboom

Mushaboom

Also, our bok choy are starting to get a little crowded. Natural selection (aka thinning) seems inevitable.

Overpopulation => one child policy

Overpopulation => one child policy

Lastly, the carrots have sprouted! Only a little bit. Sorry I forgot to take a picture because of how emotional I was to see them.


Garden Update : Friday, January 31st

The garden is looking good!

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“I’m I big enough to be eaten yet?”

Upon arriving, I noticed that the plants had already been watered. So I took my time clearing away those prickly tree seed pod balls. I also ended up doing some additional watering for some fringe plants that needed some love.

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“I’m so happy and comfortable in my new home!”