Laura and I have been eating asparagus at least once a week for a few weeks now. She bakes a simple filet of salmon and some lightly salted asparagus. It’s been one of the highlights of our newly established cooking routine. Well, she cooks; I just do the dishes.
As most people who have enjoyed the tasty veg have later experienced, the asparagus leaves its mark on your urine. I am humble enough to realize I’m not the first to write about this. A long line of notable scholars and well-educated people have commented on this phenomenon. Ben Franklin, in 1781, penned a letter to the Royal Academy at Brussels that stated: “A few Stems of Asparagus eaten, shall give our Urine a disagreable Odour”. The letter is a sarcastic request for scientists to find a way to “Discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreeable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes.” Check it out.
But before you think this whole post is about asparagus pee, let me get to my idea. How awesome would it be if everything we ate made our pee smell differently?
Think about it. Maybe the bathroom at McDonald’s would smell like French fries instead of unwashed employee hands with a hint of urinal mint. The WC at your local pub could smell like bad buffalo wings instead of roofies and that guy who overdosed on Brut. And at Chick-fil-a? Well, it will always smell like homophobia mixed with hate.
Perhaps with some bioengineering, we can live this dream. C’mon, scientists have developed a way to get spiders’ silk-spinning genes into goats, thereby, creating goats that produce spider silk in their milk. Why can’t they use these talents to make my pee smell like freshly baked cookies? This is the world in which I want to live. Who’s with me?
And, with all my hopes that this will one day come true, I know in my heart of hearts that there would be absolutely no hope for porta-johns—nothing can be done for them.
I think the lowly, often forgotten asparagus is the key to a new, better world.