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I Can't Taste Anything

Ah, pizza. The perfect food? Everything you could possibly want to experience in the range and realm of taste is present in this universally beloved combination of all the best parts of eating. Whether you’re a locally-milled flour foodie or an aficionado de Domino’s, whether it’s NFL Sunday or a candlelit bistro on a Mediterranean mesa—gluten-free vegans to carb-averse keto-vores can all find some kind of way for pizza’s combination of spicy, tangy, salty, sweet, umami and ungodly-good to be utterly irresistible as the ultimate taste experience. Unless, of course, you’re Adrian Wellock. He can’t taste a thing.

It may sound like a horror movie made for Food Network, but Wellock unexpectedly and inexplicably lost his sense of taste after what he thought was a routine cold. Adrian awoke one day feeling a little under the weather, but didn’t think it was any worse than an over-the-counter inconvenience. He noticed a slight metallic taste in his mouth, but other than that, nothing strange at all. That was until that metallic taste left—and all other taste with it. Adrian soon realized that it wasn’t just congestion that was dulling his taste buds, as his sense of smell was fine. He could still sense and enjoy a whole library’s worth of smells and odors that come with cooking and baking, but once it hit the taste buds on the tip of his tongue, nothing.

Fortunately, Wellock has found ways to tastefully adapt to his new taste-less lifestyle. First, he only eats foods that spend very little time in his mouth. A perfectly grilled filet mignon or a decadent dark chocolate bar don’t hold much pleasure for someone who releases no flavor from chewing. Second, he eats a lot of strongly-flavored foods, using herbs to enrich the smells he can still savor spices that induce non-taste feelings, like heat and pungency. However, this does garner him the occasional odd look. Spicing up your Cheerios with chili powder or dipping fresh strawberries in mustard aren’t exactly flavor pairings that would make their way to most menus. On the other hand, who thought pineapple on pizza would work? (It does. It definitely does.) Maybe Adrian’s loss can be our gain as we strive to find new and unexpected ways to zest up the meal we all share, that pizza we call life.

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