Supertasters get all the press, what with their outrageously overabundant taste buds and their sensitivity to the nuances of food. The other side of that coin—the nontaster—has gotten relatively short shrift until this month’s publication of a (print-only) essay called “Ballad of the Nontaster” in Gastronomica. CHOW contributor Emily Matchar goggles in horror at how quickly her foodie calling cards—an enthusiastic embrace of gastronomic extremes such as Vegemite and insanely spicy curry—can be transformed into hallmarks of an insensitive palate.

Upon further reflection, however, it turns out that being a nontaster has its ups as well as its downs; adventurous eating is far easier to pull off when you’re able to ride the wave of extreme flavor and texture. Matchar’s concluding question, an inquiry as to where the great chefs of the world rank on the supertaster-to-nontaster scale, is a good one; sensitivity is great, but fearlessness certainly offers its own dividends. Like durian. But not limited to durian. Thankfully.

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