My Gifted Child, You’ve Been CHOPPED

My Gifted Child: “Mom, did you use unsalted butter on my bread?  You know I don’t like unsalted butter; it just tastes so flat and lends no flavor to the bread.  I can’t eat this.  Do you have any ‘specific name brand’  butter?

Poor Mom of Gifted Child: “Uh…No”  (Looking dazed and confused, and thinking who the hell can taste the difference between salted and unsalted butter on a piece of fresh, homemade rosemary bread)


Welcome to my kitchen where dinnertime seems more like the final round of CHOPPED on the Food Network, and my gifted child is much like the most critical of the CHOPPED judges on the panel, deconstructing each and every morsel of food I prepare with his discerning palate, and pointing out the lack of that one, missing grain of salt which fell to the floor while I was cooking AND rushing to open the door for the UPS man who needed me to sign for that huge package I could barely squeeze through the door.  Yup, I should have grabbed that grain of salt and used it because you know, the 5-second rule is real.

Gifted children have a myriad of traits and characteristics beyond their intellectual strengths.  Many have overexcitabilities. “A small amount of definitive research and a great deal of naturalistic observation have led to the belief that intensity, sensitivity and overexcitability are primary characteristics of the highly gifted.”   These intensities can be emotional, imaginational, intellectual, psychomotor and sensual.  The sensual overexcitability involves the senses – sight, sound, taste, touch and hearing.  Not all gifted children have overexcitabilities, and if they have OE’s, they may exhibit just one or a few.

My gifted child seems to have the OE I like to call the “gifted palate”.  Forget all the burdens of gifted children  you have read about.   Take it from me, those are all a cakewalk compared to frantically cooking in the CHOPPED kitchen everyday of your life and waiting for that  judge with the gifted palate to pick apart the meal you’ve meticulously just prepared.  Talk up stirring up some stress with a side of french fried fear!

I was born and raised in south Louisiana – Cajun Country.  Cooking is a way of life there, and I learned to cook from the best.  Let’s just say my cooking skills are pretty solid.  On the flip side of the spatula, every time my child with the gifted palate sits down to take his first bite, I nervously wait for the critiquing to commence because, for my son with the tasteful “gifted palate”, my cooking has rarely made it past round one.


My Gifted Child: “Mom, when are you going to make gumbo again?”

Poor Mom of Gifted Child: “I’m not sure.  I usually only make it for Christmas Eve, but maybe soon.”

My Gifted Child:  “Well, when you make gumbo again, I want it to be like the one you made three Christmases ago.  That was the best one you ever made!  You know the one where you cut the onions and bell peppers up into 10mm squares so that there was like just small bursts of flavor, but they didn’t compete with the chicken and sausage?  I want it just like that one!”

Poor Mom of Gifted Child: “Uh….okay.”  (Thinking mais poo yie – Cajun French for OMG – does he really remember what something tasted like three Christmases ago?  And how am I gonna reproduce that gumbo when every one I make is different because I never, ever measure anything or follow a recipe, much less measure the size of the cut-up bell peppers and onions!)


My resident food critic is discerning about food textures, food colors, temperatures of foods, how foods are seasoned, and he insists on the balance of all of these!  A complex dish that combines flavors of sweet, savory, sour and spicy such as in Thai food will definitely whip up my child’s version of Restaurant Impossible, and I will inevitably end up feeling like I have been on the worst episode of Worst Cooks in America!

Do you think I’m kidding?  Here’s one more: My precious “gifted palate” saunters into my kitchen, with a deep-in-thought look on his face, and  he states that he is hungry for something savory with not much saltiness to it, and he feels it should be at room temperature.  Really?  R e a l l y?

I stand there dazed, confused and just a little perturbed and flatly state, “fix it yourself.”

BAM! My gifted child, you’ve been chopped!


Footnotes and afterthoughts:

Despite my tongue-in-cheek version of overexcitabilities, they are a real struggle for gifted children and their parents.  Gifted children deal with many burdens trying to fit into school and society, and all of these burdens are real and need to be recognized and understood.

*Learn more about the burdens of the gifted here.

*Learn more about overexcitabilities from SENG – Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted:



*We have been watching and loving Food Network at our house for years, thus my references:

Food Network


WORST Cooks in America

Restaurant Impossible

27 Comments on “My Gifted Child, You’ve Been CHOPPED

  1. Oh Lordy! This is my life!

    My uber-math geek seven-year-old will only drink ONE brand of milk. He completely freaks out when I buy anything else. He insists they taste different.

    Apparently he really can too. The other day I ran out of “his” milk and tried to use a different brand. He was half asleep, but he took one bite of his breakfast cereal, spewed it all over the table, and ran for the bathroom clawing at his tongue and screaming: “WATER-WATER-WATER-WATER-WATER!!!!!”

    You can bet I’ll never try THAT again!

    • Oh my goodness, I spewed my Diet Dr. Pepper while reading this because I couldn’t stop giggling! Yes, of course different brands of milk taste different . . . it’s the cows! 😉

      Oh yeah, the gifted taste buds! We know them well at our house too!

      Thanks for sharing your story about the milk! That made my night!

  2. There isn’t a way to stop it is there?! If there is I want to know because when you notice the small stuff in food everyone just thinks you are a fussy eater and tries to make you eat. Saying to a dinner lady every single day “this tastes different to yesterday’s pasta (for example ). I dislike this gets old and ,to others who don’t get it, annoying. It makes me hate eating at people’s houses and in around of others at school (if I bother getting any by now)

    • Yeah, I can understand why you would want a way to stop it–having such a sensitive sense of taste. Two of my sons had a very sensitive sense of taste, but I didn’t know back then when they were little that this was part of their giftedness. I too used to think they were picky eaters. We all just gradually learned to adapt to each other’s differences and quirks, but it helped me when they could explain how they felt about their sense of taste. But having a sensitive sense of taste isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m sure the best chefs in the world must all have a very sensitive sense of taste which is a trait that makes them successful. Thank you for your comments!

  3. I wish my gifted nephew would be this vocal occasionally. He’s 13 now and learning ( becoming brave enough) to sort foods out for himself and cook a bit bit. Before we worried he’d starve.
    For my daughter and I itss smells, which carries over to food somewhat. Just don’t ask us to linger in the cleaning product aisle while shopping. Instant headache!

  4. I’m so glad I found you on FB. I have never had my son tested but I really think he’s gifted. He is also a visual spacial learner. I brought him home this past year to homeschool (3rd grade). I’m so glad I did because I’m learning so much about who he is and how he ticks. Thank you, Thank you for this post. I’m constantly failing in the kitchen too! How do they remember everything???? I never share his abilities with anyone so not to cause jealousy. Parents really have NO idea what it’s like raising a child that’s gifted. I’m totally exhausted by the end of the day! He is never quiet and always has a question. I love him to the moon and back and wouldn’t trade him for the world. 🙂

    • Cecile, you’ve used the all same descriptions in describing your journey with your son that so many of us use to describe our gifted children! Thankfully, many more of us are finding our voice to speak up and not feel afraid to talk about our child, so you will see your are in good company! I’m glad you found my site and it helps you in some small way!

      Exhausting – yes, that is one of the most common adjectives used, lol! Enjoy your journey with your little guy!

  5. Is that what it was? gifted palates? 🙂 I always wondered how she can specifically tell the differences in my cooking. I tried to give excuses or respond by saying, no, it is exactly the same but she can always tell. Always enjoy your article and the comments. Good to know I am not alone.. unsalted vs salted butter

    • Thank you, Janet! And yeah, I’m sure many of us have many names for it. Gifted palates was the most civil one I could think of! 😉

  6. Oh, my daughter and her gifted palate! She’ll beg to go to sushi, but only at one particular restaurant, because they’re the only ones who do tako right. It’s raw octopus. How many ways can you get that wrong? She doesn’t understand why her friends don’t want to join us. Doesn’t every 9 year old love flying fish eggs as a side dish? The plus side is that the owner of the restaurant dotes on her. She’s their youngest patron, and their most charming.

    However, her discerning palate has led to issues with eating. She hasn’t gained any weight in the past six months, despite being three inches taller. I’m trying to find creative ways to increase her menu, but with her palate and her texture issues, it’s a challenge. I’m proud to say she ate oatmeal for the first time in three years last night. Usually, she’d rather go hungry than eat something that doesn’t taste or feel just right.

    And I have to agree with your son on the butter. Unsalted butter is like kissing your brother. Sure, it’s still a kiss, but you only do it when you have to, and then it’s without passion and you hope nobody sees you. 🙂

    • It is amazing to me to read about all the other gifted people with gifted palates; I just never thought there were so many out there! And just like your story shows, it is a double-edged sword! Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. You must be an awesome cook, because he wouldn’t know what perfect foods were like if he hadn’t experienced some! Seriously get him to help in the kitchen. Between your knowledge of cooking being passed down to him and his appreciation of perfection, I bet he could be a great chef.

    • Thanks, Laura! I had at one point encouraged him to help in the kitchen, but then he just takes over, and is constantly telling how I could be doing things quicker, better, cleaner, tastier and more efficient! lol But, you gave me a great idea – I need to just have him cook meals for the family by himself!!! Thanks so much, Laura!

  8. This was great! I’m sending it to my mother. Christmas baking at a standstill because the cherries aren’t the “right” cherries. Or venison that wasn’t marinated exactly like the version I had asked for. I didn’t understand cooking based upon what was in the cupboard. To me, cooking was measured, scientific and exact. My poor mom. She’ll enjoy reading this.

    • Yes, Brandy, us poor moms who have to cook for all those gifted palates! lol

      Thanks for sharing your “gifted palate” story!

  9. My son and I are both supertasters and gifted. So we both are like this. Since I’m the main cook, it doesn’t bother me, but this is very real. One day my poor husband (who is not a supertaster) bought a super-sized container of hummus to help save some money. My son tasted it and said that it tasted different from the usual size. My husband insisted that it was the same brand and flavor and therefore it couldn’t taste any different. I tasted it, and I too could tell a difference. I would eat both containers, unlike my son, but there was a distinct difference to us. This could be a fun science experiment if anyone’s interested.

  10. My ultra-picky three year old enjoys sitting down to dinner and saying “Hmmm. Let me see what’s wrong with this dinner.” Ahh, the joys. 🙂

    • Yes, yes, yes!
      That most definitely is what is going through their minds at every meal! – “Hmmm. Let me see what’s wrong with this dinner.”

      Love it! And thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *