Sunday, 24 April 2016

Gone for ever.......

.......or is it my taste buds?
The Jersey Royal potatoes are 'in' and I bought my first lot on our market on Friday because both the farmer and I love them.   To say that we were disappointed was an understatement.   They tasted of absolutely nothing.   What has happened to the taste?   The farmer says that he thinks he read somewhere that they used to use seaweed as a 'manure' and that they can no longer do this.   Whatever the reason I shall not be buying any more.   If anyone else samples them than I would be interested to hear how their taste buds reacted.

I do think our taste buds fade as we age.   I remember as a child, when we had a big vegetable garden, our first new potatoes were always dug early in the evening, and we all eagerly awaited that first boiling.   My father would bring in a bucket full, pour hot water on to them and stir them round with the copper stick to remove loose skin and dirt.   Mother would gently boil them and then put them into a dish add a knob of butter and garnish with chopped mint.   Food of the gods.

No potatoes taste like that any more.   Or do they?   Is it just me?

The same applies to tomatoes.   First my rule was never to buy tomatoes in winter because they were tasteless, but now the rule can
almost be extended to summer because tasty tomatoes are so hit and miss.   Up here in the North of the country, without a greenhouse, it is more or less impossible to grow one's own and get them ripe before Autumn.   And foreign ones are sometimes sweet, sometimes not.

And don't get me started on eating apples.   When I was a child I knew so many different kinds of eating apples - we had Ellison's
Orange Pippins and Beauty of Kent in the garden and our neighbours had an Egremont Russett, so we always exchanged a few of each.   Not so many years ago I went to a town in Worcestershire where there were boxes of rather scabby local named apples in crates and they were disappearing like wildfire.  We bought some and the taste brought back those childhood days.
But where are they now - among the Braeburn, the Golden Delicious, the tasteless?

So - is it my taste buds, or are things really like this?

38 comments:

ADRIAN said...

Jersey potatoes have been tasteless for at least five years. I wonder where they come from as an island the size of Jersey would have to grow them in tower blocks to supply enough to load all the supermarket shelves.
I no longer waste money on them.

thelma said...

I think as we get older our taste buds become less so, but it is true that probably all our vegetables are grown in conditions that can hardly be described as good. We have hybridised so much that everything has become the same, I find some ordinary potatoes very sweet, not just the 'sweet' potatoes and tomatoes are terrible.
I grew my own fruit, 30 odd apple/pears trees and and all the soft fruit, the surplus was made into apple juices, and definitely not the apple juice you get at the supermarket. The supermarket is probably the main culprit it just does not stock enough variety.

Acornmoon said...

I agree that so many things taste bland now, tomatoes, potatoes etc but I am sure it is more to do with agriculture and less to do with ageing. We have lost so many varieties of apples, I can recall the flavours and sometimes the noises of apples! What was the variety that rattled when you shook it?

Heather said...

You are right about the flavour of things though I did buy a small bag of Jersey Royals last week and enjoyed them though the flavour was diminished by having been packaged. I love them and have some every year. I hope the loose ones will still be tasty. I try to buy English tomatoes which seem to be improving in flavour, otherwise it is only Italian ones which taste like they should. But neither are as sweet as the ones my grandad grew in his greehouse.
Apples: Why don't more retailers sell English grown varieties? I suppose the supermarkets have put all our growers out of business. Sad, very sad.

Sarah said...

You have to grow your own to get the taste nowadays. And grow them in the ground not in tubs or bags filled with bought compost. I am lucky to have an allotment and I grow enough potatoes to keep us supplied for nine months - midsummer to Spring equinox when stored potatoes start to sprout, I have a cool well-ventilated garage and I keep my potatoes in several layers of brown paper sacks. I grow three different varieties of apples and these keep well until January. I only eat fresh outdoor tomatoes from July to October, the rest of the time it's Italian tinned tomatoes. I worry about the cost to the environment of producing tomatoes indoors all year round. Soon I'll be picking asparagus, then salads, strawberries, summer raspberries, broad beans, all the lovely summer veg, squashes, Autumn raspberries...

Librarian said...

Thanks for the warning about Jersey Royal spuds! My boyfriend and I are going to spend a week on Jersey in May, and I have been reading about the spuds grown with seaweed for manure, looking forward to trying them. I'll definitely let you know what they were like!
My Dad grows different types of tomatoes in his own greenhouse (a polytunnel, really), they are his pride and joy, along with other vegetables, fruit and herbs from the allotment. They taste tons better than anything I can buy at Aldi's.
Some of the farmers who sell at our thrice-weekly market in town centre have some very tasty produce, too. They sell so well I hope they'll be around for many more decades.

Derek Faulkner said...

I also agree with the Farmer's comment, I'm sure that I read somewhere that seaweed isn't used, or allowed to be, anymore. Potatoes, like runner beans, are best harvested from your own garden, just hours before eating.
Here in Kent we have a huge greenhouse complex known as PlanetThanet which seems to supply a large part of the South with tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. and everything that they grow is pretty much tasteless. Mind you, many people still buy cheap packs of 6 toms. for 64p and that seems to be the problem these days, cheap comes before taste!
Fortunately our Farm Shop where I live, always buys large crates of local Kent apples in a lot of old varieties in the autumn, especially Russets and so we are spoilt as far as apples go.

Tom Stephenson said...

I think it could be a bit of each. I have noticed a deterioration of senses, but we have been warned that this would happen. I think you can sort of train yourself to sharpen up the senses of smell and taste (so long as things DO taste of something) but in later age, this becomes hard work whereas it was natural when we were young, and I for one don't want to work too hard to enjoy myself. Thank God for smoke alarms.

galant said...

You are right. Regardless of where they come from, Jersey Royals or the early Cornish potatoes, they just don't taste as they used to. Oh, the new potatoes we had as children, just boiled and with a knob of butter, they were so delicious, tiny, shiny pebbles on the plate, down in a mouthful, but with a taste to be savoured. Cucumber doesn't taste as good, either, and celery is green now, not white and crunchy. The only tomatoes from the shops that we like are in Waitrose and cost the earth, their aromatic ones (don't know the variety, but they are marketed as "aromatic" and they are lovely with just a tiny sprinkle of Maldon sea salt.) My late Uncle used to grow tomatoes in his greenhouse, and the aroma of the tomato leaves as you went in was wonderful, something that just can't be captured in a fragrance (I know some perfumiers have attempted this - we once had a room spray of tomato leaf and it was vile!)
Margaret P

Rachel said...

My Jersey Royals have been wonderful and tasted just as good as ever. Waitrose is getting good ones that's for sure. Put the mint in while they are boiling. The tomatoes on the vine from East Sussex are also good and full of flavour. White celery is available in the winter from the Fens and sold in the shops here, including Waitrose. The rest of the year it is imported from Spain and tasteless.

galant said...

PS Just a response to Tom Stephenson. I wonder if this lack of a sense of smell happens to men more than to women, just as men are (reputedly) better at special awareness than we women? Husband has a total lack of a sense of smell (not aided by over-use - prescribed by our GP - or a nasal spray which my husband has now ceased to use and, subsequently, his nasal passages have improved; I maintain be became allergic to the spray and it was making matters worse.) But he can't smell gas, smoke, the scent of roses, my perfume, a meal cooking, freshly mown grass, or even when (how can I put this nicely?) when someone's been to the loo or has flatulence or when our little grandson's nappy needs changing. I mention this might be a male thing only because I've heard friends say that their husbands are also olfactorally-challenged.
Margaret P

Maria said...

I have Hashimoto's hypothyroidsim disease. So I think the reason for not allowing seaweed as a manure is because of the high iodine content it has. Seaweed is not good for who has a thyroid disease; it can worsen the disease or alter the hormone balance of medications. Greetings Maria x

Derek Faulkner said...

Could it also be because people still old fashionedly boil their potatoes, I always steam all my vegetables in a steamer and a lot less of the taste is boiled away.

galant said...

Response to Derek Faulkner - I also steam new potatoes (and other veg) these days, Derek, but even so, new spuds just don't taste as good as in the 1950s when I was a child. And we didn't need to steam new potatoes then, either. Mum boiled them and they tasted wonderful.
Margaret P

Devon said...

I am very fortunate living in northern California, it is so often sunny allowing me to have a year round garden. My vegetables and those I buy from my local farmers market are very flavorful, but I never buy tomatoes from the grocery store as they taste very bland.

Derek Faulkner said...

Fair comment Margaret and I also think that you may have a point about male taste buds. The one good side of a steamer though is that everything goes into the one steamer stacker and saves various pots and pans to clean up.

Gwil W said...

I noticed recently in Italy that the tomatoes and lemons had a more intensive taste and aroma than locally bought produce. I put this down to sea air and sunshine. The blandest tasting food is generally to found in supermarkets. Supermarket bananas for instance taste like toilet paper.

Joanne Noragon said...

We anticipate asparagus every year and remarked last night about following the taste of of across the country, until, at last, we pick our own and savor every bite because it's "real" asparagus. I think it's not a taste bud issue, but the issue of getting fresh produce to market across a continent or ocean or two.

Linda Metcalf said...

My favorite is always new potatoes with creamed peas...no one seems to grow peas anymore. And the tomatoes always seem to have tough skins. Like you say they just don't taste like they used to. We have a farmers market every Saturday from May thru October and we get our veg from the Amish who sell there. Always good.

Frances said...

Weaver, reading this post and the prior comments makes me even more glad to have access to farmers markets. This is a grand time of the year when every visit presents the chance of seeing some new spring crop's arrival. Over the winter months, there are many varieties of delicious apples and lots of root veg. Tender greens are now beginning to show up. Last week I bought some wild arugula and it is flavor filled. It will be months before the tomato celebrations begin.

xo

jinxxxygirl said...

Hubs and i agree with you on many of the things you mentioned... For me potatoes ARE pretty tasteless .. its all about what you add to them... But then maybe i'm just used to eating tasteless potatoes...lol . Tomatoes... Hubby is a big fan of tomatoes... fresh out of the garden preferably...And good ones are hard to find in the store any time of year...Fruit... its not just apples.... Hubby loves peaches and plums and nectarines and the ones at the store are always rock hard and tasteless... so sad... hugs! deb

Derek Faulkner said...

Another thing that our Farm shop does in the winter is to by large wooden crates from local farmers, of BrusselS sprouts left still attached to 2-3ft stems. By hanging the stems in a cool place like a garage they keep for ages and the sprouts picked at will.

galant said...

Response to Gwil W. I've not tried toilet paper, har, har! Much depends on the type of banana. The very small ones are usually OK. The big ones taste of nothing at all and clog up the mouth. Bananas, a bit like pears, are only fit to eat for about half an hour of their life span. It's being there the moment they are fit to eat! Over the half hour and they're only fit for the bin or, in the case of bananas, making a banana and walnut loaf or a banana milk shake.
We tend to eat more tinned fruit. The tinned William pears from Lidl's are the best ever.
Margaret P

Mac n' Janet said...

Tomatoes bought at the store are rubbish, no taste at all. We have a hard time growing them, but keep trying each year. We've found that the only potatoes we like are the red ones and we just dug up our first lot of them yesterday and they were so good.

Rachel said...

The best bananas I ever tasted were in Agadir. They were like nectar. I haven't been able to eat a banana since because nothing would ever come up to that taste.

Doc said...

I agree with the hybridization being part of the problem, here we get enough warm season to grow delicious tomatoes. I only grow heirloom varieties, my mouth is watering just thinking of them.

angryparsnip said...

I think they have to conform to so many new laws that might be the problem ?
But I agree with everything you said.
The Red Delicious Apples from Washington State were wonderful but they had some yellow streaks in with the red. The buyers only wanted all red apples. So they bred in the red and in the process bred out the taste.
So very stupid.

I wish I could taste all the apples that you talk about.
cheers, parsnip

The Weaver of Grass said...

What a brilliant and interesting lot of comments. And I do like how you have all had conversations with one another. It does seem that by and large we do all agree that nothing tastes as good these days. Rachel's comments about bananas in Agadir reminded me of oranges on Marrakech. My hotel had a huge bowl in the foyer and te oranges in it were freshly picked each morning for us to help ourselves. The taste of those oranges, fresh from the tree, was like nothing I have tasted before or since.

Thank you so much for contributing to such a lively debate.

Midmarsh John said...

I am sure you are correct. Part of the problem is our taste buds do fade with the passing years. Conversely that is why young children turn their noses up to some foods. They are so strong tasting to them.
So many fruits and such are available all year round these days. I always have a punnet of strawberries with my Asda deliveries. At this time of year they are the correct colour and have reasonable taste but they are hard rather than succulent.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Strawberries I bought from the market were totally tasteless, suspect they'd been long deep frozen. Really disappointing.

Coppa's girl said...

Commercially produced fruit and veg are picked before they are ripe, chilled and then transported - sometimes half way across the world, then stored in chillers again, before they finally make it to the supermarket shelves, or market stalls. Nothing will retain it's flavour when treated this way - no way will it taste as though it's just been picked.
Alas, age has also something to do with it too, our taste buds diminish.

Chris Elliot said...

I still remember my first experience with a tomato that tasted so delicious I just ate it out of my hand. It was on my first trip to France as a teenager and we bought local tomatoes for our lunch. Now, the one's I grow in my garden come close to that taste (especially the cherry tomatoes)but I agree our taste buds deteriorate with age.

Sals View said...

I totally agree that food tastes different now. Russet apples used to be my all time favourite but for the past few years they have none of that unique taste.

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

I am pretty sure that with potatoes it is not my taste buds playing tricks. The potatoes are really variable in flavor, not just between different varieties, but even within the same variety. Last week's Yukon Gold potatoes were very good, but the week before I bought some small red potatoes. They looked like they would be good, but the potatoes seemed like they had a smokiness to them, and that was when I was slicing before they were even cooked. The awful smoke flavor was still there after steaming them. It would have been better if they would have had no flavor. It was almost as if they had been through some sort of fire, but they were nicely formed, unblemished fresh looking small red potatoes. Maybe it was some sort of soil additive they used for growing. So now when I shop for potatoes, not only do I check each individual one for blemishes, nicks that may mold, and big lumps that around here seem to mean there is rot/mold inside, I also sniff each one to be sure it doesn't smell charred.

I grew my own potatoes last year and they were so delicious.

Virginia said...

I totally agree, Weaver. Some of it can be put down to commercial production, and distance and time from farm to table, but I read a very scary article recently about how almost all commercial seeds came from the same source, so contamination/variety and supply were all at risk. I try to buy locally produced food - there are some countries food I will not buy because I am concerned about the growing conditions. We have a (very small) garden at the back of our townhouse and grow our own herbs, greens and carrots, but other things we have not the room for. So you have to cope, and accept that "things ain't what they were"!

Cro Magnon said...

If I was to write everything I would like to write on this subject, I'd be here all day. So, I'll just say that I agree with you 100%.

The Weaver of Grass said...

A few more replies since I wrote, but we do all seem to agree. Thanks to you all.

Dartford Warbler said...

I`m sure Sarah is right in saying that home or very locally grown fruit and vegetables are still the only way to find the true, old fashioned tastes. Modern food storage and chilling might help things to stay "fresh" for longer but they don`t help the taste.