A platter of fresh, briny mussels. A juicy tomato, sprinkled with sea salt. A pint of ice-cold, malty beer. Is your mouth watering—or your nose wrinkling?
In two new books, a food product developer and a self-proclaimed picky eater dive into the genetics, biology, and psychology that influence our culinary likes and dislikes. Barb Stuckey's Taste What You're Missing
is an engrossing read about making mouths happy, while Suffering Succotash
is Stephanie Lucianovic's quest to understand her own gag reflex. We feasted on both books to learn how predilections and revulsions can develop over time.
In Utero: Mom's Diet
In a study at Philadelphia's Monell Chemical Senses Center, one group of pregnant women drank carrot juice during their third trimester, another drank the juice during the first two months of breastfeeding, and a third avoided carrots altogether. Later, the babies whose mothers had consumed the orange veggies preferred carrot-flavored cereal more than the other kids did. Additional research suggests that when women experience severe morning sickness—which can cause sodium loss—their babies tend to be born with a higher penchant for salty foods.