Still no to pumpkin spice

A latte served without pumpkin spice. (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

Some people think I’ve unjustly maligned the innocent pumpkin spice latte. Indeed, I’ve never tasted one. I also have a long-standing hatred for nutmeg and cloves, half of the four required spices in the iconic pumpkin spice mixture. Perhaps the spice blend is my version of cilantro?

Coriander or cilantro, a parsley-lookalike, is an herb used in cooking to enhance various dishes. I’ve always included it in recipes, especially salsa. In 2012, N. Eriksson, S. Wu, Do, C.b. et al., published a study, “A Genetic Variant Near Olfactory Receptor Genes Influences Cilantro Preference,” which used genetics to track why the herb tasted like soap or dirt to some people while enhancing cuisine for others. My husband, who can usually eat and appreciate any food, finally discovered why he can’t tolerate certain foods. It all came down to the soapy, dirty flavor of cilantro.

Pumpkin spice is my cilantro, except substitute soap for my grandmother’s linen closet.

Pumpkin spice conjures up smells of a slightly musty, old lady’s closet, but in a coffee. It doesn’t help that I’m triggered by shopping in stores now, dedicating aisles to products drenched in spice flavors. Do dogs need pumpkin spice treats? Even though pumpkin may help a pet’s digestion, are the spices essential? I understand wanting to share experiences with our animals, but I can’t wrap my brain around spiced donuts or beer for dogs. Other additions to the pumpkin spice universe are popcorn, salmon, hot dogs, chips, trash bags and body wash.

At the urging of a friend, I finally did try a pumpkin-spiced latte. Yes. I sipped on a beverage that brought back cozy memories of shelf-lining paper and stuffy bedsheets saved “for good.” I will remain in my apple-picking lane. We can all have our versions of autumn–cozy sweaters, changing leaves and eating apples. My season will stay spice-free.


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