The Real Reason You're Craving Burnt Food

Do you and your family members ever fight over the burnt ends of a baguette, or a blackened blackened bit of barbecue? Or, do you order your bacon so crispy it's actually burnt, or purposefully letting the popcorn cook for a few minutes past when you can hear the last kernel pop? It might seem odd to some, but the craving for burnt food isn't all that uncommon.

On the one hand, blackened food can really enhance the flavors of your cooking, which you'll know if you've ever broiled peppers, tomatoes, or onions until they were blistering. In vegetables like these, letting the skins blacken can create a depth of savory flavor that is almost meat-like (via the The New York Times). In other foods, like cookies, for instance, it can be a nice, crunchy, textural contrast as well (via Epicurious). In other cases, burning food can completely ruin everything about it with an overpoweringly intense bitter flavor and dry texture. 

If you find yourself craving burnt foods often, this can actually be indicative of a nutrient deficiency that will take more than burnt food to solve.

The sweet solution to a burnt food craving

Of course, there's a difference between enjoying a bite of blackened food and really needing something, and if you're craving the bitter or umami flavor of burnt toast or meat, it can mean that you're deficient in carbon (via NatuaLife). Unfortunately, the answer to a carbon deficiency isn't necessarily to start purposefully scorching everything you cook. Instead, a more effective way to address this deficiency would be to add at least two servings of fruit into your diet each day to increase your carbon levels, and mellow out that craving (via Shared). If you're not a raw fruit fan, a nice compromise might be charred fruit as a dessert (via The Washington Post).

If, on the other hand, you eat enough fruit and still just can't get enough of the flavor created by the Maillard reaction (which happens when food blackens), try not to go too far past a dark brown char, since at that point you're likely to start setting off fire alarms and disappointing your dinner guests. You can also try out recipes from Vietnam, the Caribbean, and Mexico, where that burnt flavor is a cultural staple in foods like nuoc mau and mole.