Lex's plate of tastes included (clockwise from top) spinach chiffonade, Cocoa Powder, Blackstrap Molasses, cheese Puffs, and Smoked Oysters (blech!)

If you’ve ever watched a season of Top Chef or Hell’s kitchen, you will have seen talented chefs put their palates to the test – to figure out, by taste alone, a selection of ingredients laid out before them.

For years, we’ve been trying to figure out a way to organize a similar blind tasting with our foodie friends from Toronto, L&G.

The thing that has always tripped us up has been figuring out a way to do this without bringing in a fifth person to run the test. Without that extra person, at least one person in our group would need to know what’s being tasted. It took us some time, but we’ve managed to sort out a reasonable way to organize this such that we all get to take part. And, with L&G visiting us for the week, we were actually able to pull it off yesterday. It worked really well.

We started with a trip to the store, fanning out into the various sections of Loblaws and the Bulk Barn, each in search of five flavours to challenge our compatriots. Once acquired, we each stored them in opaque fabric bags and headed home to the kitchen where we took it in turns to lay our flavours out on a plate, covering them with a bowl. We then sat ourselves down in a circle to challenge our taste buds.

We took it in turns to offer a tasting. The three tasters would put on a blindfold while the tester would place something in their mouths (using a spoon/a toothpick/the taster’s finger…). Once they each had the taste, the tester would cover any visual evidence and everyone could remove their blindfolds to discuss the flavours. Each person would write their answer down and then the tester would reveal the correct answer.

Mostly we all picked stuff that was pleasant to taste – or at least not horrible – although Junkii didn’t care much for the blackstrap molasses, L disliked the canned ham, G wasn’t a big fan of the Raita, and I could have done without the smoked oysters. We all agreed the cheese puffs were good.

My own taste offerings included ginger, date, water chestnut, sour cream, and radish – all of which were easily guessed. I’ll need to find less unique tastes next time. Junkii’s offerings included maraschino cherry, avocado (particularly tricky to identify), the ham, the raita, and some soursop juice (a hard one, given how obscure this tropical fruit is in North America). L – who took the only photo – offered the molasses, the oysters, the cheesie, some spinach, and cocoa powder. And G offered some tough ones – fortune cookie, celery salt, fenugreek, liquid Stevia, and one other that slips my memory.

Too bad it’s taken us so long to pull this off. It turned out to be a really fun afternoon and we’ll likely do it again next time we get together.


5 responses »

  1. Lex says:

    I’ve shared my version, shockingly similar to yours, over on unsweetened.ca

  2. Lex says:

    I was talking to dad this morning about the tasting and I had a realization: my score was unfairly influenced by knowing who was presenting the taste. E.g. 2 of Gerry’s tastes that I identified I might not have known if I didn’t know they were from Gerry. Both the Stevia dn dried pear might have left me flummoxed if “blind” included blind to source. not sure how to address this… But consider this issue raised for debate

    • RoC(k)r says:

      I don’t think there’s anything to debate. It’s absolutely true that, if you knew the tastes came form your own pantry, you had an unfair advantage. Having shopped separately for new ingredients meant that we were essentially source-blind otherwise.

  3. […] You can read Rockr’s post about the experience in his post Blind Tasting. […]

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