Shortbread cookies as cancer patients taste them


Imagine eating good old fashioned shortbread biscuits, but with an extra ingredient, spilanthol to give you the impression of how it is to taste biscuits the way a cancer patient tastes them.

The Internet tells us that spilanthol is a plant whose medicinal uses includes treating tooth pain and infections of the throat and gums. In other words, when you eat these cookies, they are tasty, but the spilanthol slowly takes over and makes the whole inside of your mouth tingle in an unpleasant fashion. And drinking water doesn’t help, which makes the whole experience ‘disgusting’, according to the Dutch who tried the biscuits.

That is the taste sensation of the ‘Awareness Through Experience’ (ATE) biscuit, developed by Robert Greene, chairman of the Hunger and Thirst foundation. The biscuits were made by chef Christian Boomker.

Before Greene himself was diagnosed with colon cancer, he was a nurse in an oncology department. Knowing that half of patients are underfed due to the terrible taste they experience when eating, he wanted to find a way to share this impression with others and draw attention to the issue.

(Link:, photo by Maëka Alexis, some rights reserved)

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