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A Curiosity…

A Curiosity 01

At present, I have a couple of culinary projects underway but I won’t be writing up the results for a day or three at least. Accordingly, today I thought I might share a rather odd mystery in hopes that some of my readers might have some feedback. Basically, the situation is this…

For most of my life, I loved horseradish. A cold roast beef sandwich always demands lots of hot English mustard for me but, as a side condiment for prime rib, or any plain beef roast, horseradish was always *the* condiment of choice. Turnips have also been a great favorite with me (although I grew into this taste as an adult) but now, unaccountably, both of these once loved foodstuffs, including a few other things, like wasabi, have become anathema … What gives?

The funny thing is, this change in taste came out about very suddenly. One day, it seems, I enjoyed turnip, horseradish and wasabi with gusto and, the next, even a little of these things produced a very unpleasant, almost ‘chemical’ taste in my mouth. I have thought about this and it seems that I must have suddenly become sensitive to a particular component substance that was undetectable by me in the past. Whether this is a factor of age, or maybe some sort of environmental influence, I cannot tell and the situation is rather disturbing. The only question I have left is whether or not things will reverse themselves again so that I can once more enjoy the foodstuffs in question.

Has anybody else had a similar experience, or know anything about this sort of thing?



I am a lawyer by profession and my practice is Criminal... I mean, I specialize in Criminal law. My work involves travelling on Court circuits to remote Arctic communities. In between my travels I write a Food blog at

15 thoughts on “A Curiosity…

  1. How do you cook your turnips? There is a great site that describes most wasabi we eat as “not the real deal”. Maybe the horseradish we eat isn’t real either? And your palate can detect the synthetic products more readily.. But turnips, not sure except a reaction to the pan/pot? On the flip side.. maybe you have a bit of a throat infection that reacts to those sorts of foods.. Just all wild guesses on my part! I wish you luck!!

    1. The taste occurs with raw or cooked turnip, and I have actually had fresh horseradish root, so I know it was real. I’ve also been experiencing this for at least 2 years now so I don’t think it is a transitory thing…

  2. According to NIH, your sense of taste is affected as you age. Here’s what they say: “The number of taste buds decreases as you age. Each remaining taste bud also begins to lose mass (atrophy). Sensitivity to the four tastes often declines after age 60. Usually salty and sweet tastes are lost first, followed by bitter and sour tastes. In addition, your mouth produces less saliva as you age. This causes dry mouth, which can affect your sense of taste.”

    Also, are you a smoker or on any meds after your hand operation? This could affect your sense of taste, too.

    1. A change due to age was my first thought… and I still suspect that it is something along those lines. The funny thing is, though, that this doesn’t seem to be a diminution in taste… I hesitate to call it an ‘enhancement’, but it does seem to be the case that I am tasting something I couldn’t before. No other taste sensitivities seem to be much changed either….

  3. Interesting! Dysgeusia is very common with pregnancy and chemo, I knew someone who got this from radiation therapy to the brain. But, B12 and zinc deficiencies also cause it, as do some medications… perhaps a side effect from some of your recent finger adventures? I had an infected tooth that effected my ability to smell or taste vanilla very well ( a great loss!) Definitely Google “Dysgeusia” –see if it is mentioned in the ‘small’ print of any meds you are taking or google ‘side effects’ for the same meds, there might be anecdotal reactions the pharmaceutical companies missed (although, they seem almost giddy listing them) Speaking of anecdotal, many meats and veg are missing or have reduced nutrients due to new farming methods… Putting a B12 under your tongue is a cheap, harmless test you can do on your own -it would be my first. Gargling with hydrogen peroxide might kill any odd fungally things hiding in your tongue… okay, enough, I must go rigorously brush my teeth now! Hope you get your yum back soon! It’s been seven years and I am starting to get the vanilla back!

      1. ‘Dysgeusia’ is a new word for me… I can rule out anything recent (eg:my finger) or transitory, such as a fungal infection, as this is a pretty long-standing thing now … I don’t *think* any medications are responsible, although that may be a possibility…

        That B12 idea also bears looking at and I note from the article at Wikipedia that diabetes may have an influence… I am a diabetic and I also used to supplement with B Vitamins but haven’t in ages…. I’ll try a course of B12 and see what results is has … Thank you!

  4. Very interesting situation and I find your readers’ comments interesting as well. I’ve never experienced such a thing and wonder if you’ll ever truly find the reason behind it.

  5. My best friends teaches neuroscience at Drexel University in Philadelphia. I passed your post along to her, and she has this to say:

    The causes (can) range from the benign, but annoying to the (literally) malignant. A persistent change in any sense should be discussed with and evaluated by a physician. Briefly, the problem could be anywhere along the sensory pathway. Sinus infections, flu viruses that damage taste receptors are all potential peripheral culprits. But we don’t taste anything until our brain tells us to, so a tumor or stroke can damage our ability to perceive taste properly. A metallic taste is a relatively common presentation. In other words, it should get checked out.

  6. I developed an allergy to kiwis, rather suddenly. One week I could eat them, the next week, my mouth and throat began to itch and I had other histamine reactions. the fact that you have developed a distaste for vegetables in the same family might suggest some sort of imbalance in your system. This can run the gamut from an infection of some kind all the way to something metabolic. You may want to have this checked out by your physician.

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