The taste sense is a connection between the inner and outer world. Socialising, like eating, requires mixing ourselves with something other than ourselves and bearing it. Because of this maturing individual relationship to the smorgasbord life has to offer, the nine to eleven year old child can become more open to the world. In relationship to food they may open up to new flavours or even reject flavours they have enjoyed all their life.
Along with the development of the taste buds the child may also become aware of new feeling life experiences. The matured taste sense allows us to have a refined individual experience of how we ‘taste’ the world.
Hyper sense of taste
To be hypersensitive to taste means that every slight variance in flavour can be discerned. Therefore those with this sensitivity have a strong tendency to choose bland or familiar food, limit their variety, and stay with textures and flavours that are familiar. They tend to separate their foods rather than mix them up. The flavour of something could leave a lasting impression that they cannot overcome, so they withdraw from eating it. But they could also want to eat a lot of a particular food because they lose themselves in the experience of pleasure it brings them.
Their social circles and fashion sense may not be very experimental or broad.
Hypo sense of taste
A person with a hypo sense of taste lack discernment in regards to what they put in their mouth. Overall their palate is less refined which makes it easy to try new things and be less impacted by the flavour of food and the people they meet.
How to harmonise and support the development of the taste sense
By allowing mealtimes to be a time of coming together in social harmony, many of the senses can be nourished. Sharing in growing food and preparing meals provide the child with hyper sensitivity time to relate to foods that they may not be so inclined to put into their mouth at meal time; this can help them become familiar with the food. The child with a hypo sensitivity can develop a deeper relationship to each food as it is prepared. Serving the meal in separate components with the expectation that everyone eats some of each component in the proportion that suits their body, while also considering to leave portions for the rest of the family, gives the hyper sensitive child more awareness of the whole and the need for social tolerance, a naturalness towards being expected to meet all parts of the meal, and an opportunity to extend themselves without being overpowered. The child with hypo sensitivity is given the chance to come to know each food on its own, refine their discernment and develop social etiquette. It can also be a joy to wonder what is in a stew and learn to discern the individual ingredients within a combined arrangement. .
The beauty of the surroundings and tastefulness of the environment can help the child develop a healthy taste sense. Offering food that is full of life at a similar time each day, supports organ functions and processes whereas a child who is tired will be less likely to eat well or be willing to try new things. Keeping wonder, reverence and beauty alive in the way we value and present food affects the nourishment that is available in the food as well as nourishing the taste sense.
To come to discover a food, even as adults we need to taste without judgment and be able to wonder at the world. Offering food that is full of life helps to experience these greater qualities.