a mash-up of senses & aging
Writing from a perspective that is purely anecdotal, one may oft note two interesting data points on the spectrum of what one might call taste adventurousness.
Point One: Children hate (or at least the author’s own kid hates) spicy food… won’t touch it… in fact will spit it out and would rather go hungry than eat something with even a little heat.
Point Two: The elderly, while they may be among those who recall fondly their days of eating spicy food, are also so often unceremoniously slotted into a bland existence, living in residences where they spend their golden years eating humdrum or over-salted meals.
Of course, there are exceptions to both of these points. This data is merely observational, drawn from a narrow and personal collection of (admittedly North American-biased) subjects, and one could likely find outliers whose experience would broadly differ, particularly incorporating data from a wider variety of cultural diets. But one supposes that the point may not be far off of accurate for a broader, generalized notion were one to actually conduct a more scientifically precise survey, or in wagering that those two statistical tails exist, even just somehow and however vaguely correlated to age, that kids and old folks are less inclined to eat spicy meals.
Either way, the points dangle the question in curious wonderment for anyone who enjoys a bit of heat in their cuisine: is there such a thing as life’s peak spicy. Alternatively put, is there a point in the life of the average person when spiciness –craved, enjoyed or otherwise– is at it’s maximum? And subsequently asked: if so, is peak spicy tied somehow to the sensitivity of the sensory organs and how they change as one ages?
Searching the Internet for the answer justifies the assertion of the (anecdotal) evidence. “Why don’t kids like spicy food” typed into Google answers the query with countless parents seeking advice on when to introduce hot peppers to toddlers or pondering the notion of gradually weaning babes-in-arms onto sriracha.
Similarly, asking “why don’t old people like spicy food” of Google kicks back a plethora of mixed results, many of which wax subjectively (no judgement here) on the gradually-looming intolerance to heat as age creeps ever on.
People, it seem, max out their spicy enjoyment potential between youth and old age, and one may assume perhaps that this is a blend of many factors, too many to account for herein.
Nor is that the purpose of this article. Rather, the point of these words is to wonder simply, sadly, and as the author’s own inevitable age grows past his prime, if such a peak exists. Will we all, one day, turn our individually aging noses at a taste so acquired and oft enjoyed. And when life’s peak spicy passes us by, will we mourn that moment, or settle in and enjoy the tamer tastes offered?