During asparagus season, "Members are requested not to relieve themselves in the hat stand" - Reputed British Mens Club Sign
Some years ago I attended the annual IACP conference in Dallas, Texas. There were many interesting and informative venues presented, but the one I found most fascinating was a panel discussion that was promoted to represent many culinary science topics, but ended up being dominated by a strange phenomenon amusingly called "asparagus pee." It started with the first question to the panel from the audience. A lady was given the microphone and allowed to ask the first question. She hemmed and hawed and couldn’t seem to produce a coherent question. Finally. panelist Shirley Corriher stood up and in a loud voice said “oh, you want to know about asparagus pee”. It brought the house down. I thought these staid culinary professionals would be put off by the subject, but boy was I wrong. Everyone seemed to sit forward in their seat and the subject dominated the entire discussion period.
Though the chemical that causes asparagus pee is now known there is still a great deal of confusion about who actually produces smelly pee after consuming it and who can actually smell it. It's an either/or option. The story we got from the IACP conference was that there are two genes involved. One gene is unique to the producer and a different gene is unique to the fortunate soul who can smell it.
No one knows exactly what percent of people produce it, but it is estimated to be about 10%. The number who can smell it is estimated to be about 20%. To me the most interesting question is how did they find each other? I can think of many scenarios that would make discovery possible, but the mystery continues.
Which gene do you have?