The Harm of Tasting
How did the ancients decide who would be the sucker that would have to sample foods never been tried for human consumption? We are not talking about Baskin Robbins here. Take, for example, tomatoes. Origins point to Peru before the Spanish showed up. If people had tried to eat the leaves of these poison treats, they would soon be dead or wishing they were. So imagine that first brave soul touching his tongue to a ripe tomato, hoping to God that he didn’t croak like his older brother Manuel, all mottled and frothing at the mouth, with the leaves sticking between his teeth. Is this what we call taking one for the team?
So how did people decide who got to be the food tester? Was it the bravest of the group? Or was it the spindly little elderly ladies that were forced to do this task? Was it a noble thing? Or was it a punishment for abomination? Well, if the strongest were ’sacrificed’, and the food was indeed poisonous, then a tribe would have lost its strongest member. However, if the weakest person was sacrificed, then did that person give up because he was weaker and couldn’t tolerate the poison? Makes you think, doesn’t it? I wonder if there were a lot of poison-related deaths in the Dark Ages.
Maybe tomatoes are evil. At any rate, I still think it would have been an adventure being a food sampler. Think of how much money you could make (as long as you didn’t value your life). Or imagine a party, where new dishes were offered on silver dishes bedecked with jewels. If you didn’t like your guests you could just suggest some succulent blowfish, or perhaps a lawn mushroom and they wouldn’t gossip anymore about great aunt (or was it uncle) Patty.