Outside magazine isn’t usually my source for food knowledge, but I recently read an intriguing tidbit there. The article was about a young professional snowboarder, Kevin Pearce, who sustained brain damage from a near-fatal accident in the halfpipe in December 2009. He’s lucky to be alive and sentient, but the trauma has taken its toll: He had to relearn how to walk, may never snowboard again—and almost certainly will never compete—and has serious short-term memory deficits.
One side effect is less troubling, though more relevant to a food blog: Ever since awakening from his post-accident coma, Pearce has had frequent, intense cravings for basil pesto, a food he had no special feelings for before. Although the article doesn’t go into more detail about this quirk of his brain injury, he’s not an isolated case. When a certain part of the right hemisphere of the brain is damaged by trauma, stroke or tumors, some patients develop “gourmand syndrome.” First identified by neuroscientists in the 1990s, the disorder is marked by “a preoccupation with food and a preference for fine eating.”