Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why Old Folks Feel "Blue"

As I've aged, my tastes in food have changed. These days, I could eat sweet potatoes, smoked seafood and dried fruit until the cows come home. Twenty years ago, none of these foods were among my favorites.

So this article ("The Senior Citizen Cookbook") by Slate's Sarah Dickerman caught my eye. In it, Dickerman offers a preview "of the ways your food world may change as you get into your late 60s and beyond." Some excerpts:

Your Stilton may be less stinky. Most older people experience a significant deterioration in their sense of smell, which, you may remember from your wine-tasting classes, is a key component of flavor . . .

You'll start keeping a candy jar. The actual sense of taste — those five qualities (sweet, sour, bitter, acid, and umami) that you can perceive thanks to your mouth's taste buds — also can change with age, but usually less significantly than the sense of smell. You'll probably gravitate toward the taste that you respond to most; for a lot of people, it's sweetness, which might explain the omnipresence of Jell-O on nursing-home menus. (Although that might actually say more about the retrograde state of institutional food than it does about its consumers . . .)

You'll miss salt. More than half the population over 65 has hypertension, so your doctor is likely to tell you to cut back on salt (not to mention saturated fats and refined sugar). Heart-healthy-pamphlet writers insist that you'll eventually get used to, or perhaps even prefer, less salt.
So 25 years or so from now, this is what I have to look forward to. Great. So please tell me why the hell do they call them "the golden years"?

No comments: