Wednesday 26 April 2023


After an over-catered Easter this year, my foodie 20something daughter and I were left home-alone for a tuthree days with a fridge full of left-overs. Thrifty me said we should go at the pre-furry stuff first. She, rightly I think, advised starting prefer-ry. I grew up in a comfy middle-class plain-cooking home where I wasn't exposed to many food challenges. One set of neighbours ate calf's brains every Tuesday and that organ sat out the day steeping in a glass bowl on their kitchen counter. I couldn't look. In general, it was allowable to Jack-Sprat some elements of the food that arrived on our plate but at my pawky Scottish grannie's house, the case was altered: there, lunch always included tinned russian salad. We were a clean-plate family so I managed to gag down what I couldn't hide under my knife and fork. It didn't help that we sibs called it sick-on-a-plate!

When I left home, possibly in antidote to my parents' values, I embraced food-thrifty: nothing edible should go in the bin. And slowly expanded my food repertoire: steak tartare sandwiches for work-lunch in Amsterdam; moules every time I ate out in Brussels; polpo on pilgrimage; whole fried whitebait. I didn't start eating variety meats [wobbly bits] for choice though - eeew. So the timing is ripe [but not over-ripe = putrid] to hear about a crowd-source quiz on food disgust on Metafilter. Lots of interesting sharing in the comments there. But here's the 32 question test, from the Individual Difference Research Lab at ETH Zurich, Department Health Science and Technology (D-HEST). And here - over-sharing as usual is my result:

You can see that I'm frankly Scarlett about mold on cheese and squidgy fruit but really don't like drinking from the same glass as people whom I haven't snogged . . . yet. And I do . so . wish that my colleague didn't choose a cookie from the communal biscuit tin by picking them all up for closer inspection. Before I retired I was chatting with a [different] pal at work about cutting the mold off cheese and she said her husband tended to throw the whole block in the bin at the first sign of whitening.

Charles Darwin as so often had a take on the issue, writing a chunk about it in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animal [1872]. He recalled a moment from 40 years earlier on the other side of the world: In Tierra del Fuego a native touched with his finger some cold preserved meat which I was eating at our bivouac, and plainly showed utter disgust at its softness; whilst I felt utter disgust at my food being touched by a naked savage, though his hands did not appear dirty. A smear of soup on a man's beard looks disgusting, though there is of course nothing disgusting in the soup itself. I presume that this follows from the strong association in our minds between the sight of food, however circumstanced, and the idea of eating it.

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