Day 17: Eat nothing but asparagus all day long…Posted: January 17, 2011
…to ascertain just how noxious your pee can get.
“[Asparagus] transforms my chamber-pot into a flask of perfume.” (Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann / Swann’s Way, 1913)
Studies have suggested that, while the production of “asparagus pee” seems to occur in all or most who consume the vegetable, only about 22% of the population can actually smell it. I happen to be in that 22% – and I can testify that asparagus pee is, indeed, both noxious and distinctive. When you smell asparagus pee, there’s no question about what it is – assuming, of course, that you’re one of the folks who can actually smell it. I wonder what asparagus pee smells like to people who can’t tell what it is – normal pee? excessively stinky pee?
To digress momentarily: one of the chemical compounds in asparagus that contributes to asparagus pee – methanethiol, which apparently has a “rotten cabbage” odor on its own – was released in a Russian home-supply store, making dozens ill, in what is ominously referred to (on Wikipedia, anyway) as the “St. Petersburg Incident.” Fascinating, isn’t it?
Anyway. I didn’t eat asparagus exclusively today – my wife made this for breakfast, how could I refuse it? – but I did eat quite a bit. Lorna roasted some this afternoon, and I ate at least a score of stalks (maybe a score and a half, I wasn’t really counting) for an early-afternoon snack. Roasted asparagus is like candy, like vegetable candy that makes your pee smell bad.
The urine that resulted from those stalks was indeed smelly (or “perfume-y”), but it didn’t strike me as any more pungent than is normal with asparagus pee. Fortunately for us all, I had another chance: Lorna used what remained of the roasted asparagus (which was quite a bit – we bought three bunches at the store) to make cream-of-asparagus soup, and it was quite tasty – parmesan cheese on top, pesto-toast on the side. I had an espresso shortly before dinner, and a scotch shortly after – with the asparagus, a trifecta of diuretics – and when I next micturated, I was greeted by an odor so foul, so fetid, that it brought tears to my eyes.
Success, I suppose, though at a high price. A Pee-rrhic victory, as it were.