I’m a pie person, not a cake person. I’d like coffee, not milk, with my chocolate cake. Dr Pepper, not Mountain Dew. And I like salty snacks.

I must confess to many, many bad habits, gentle reader. Along with biting my nails, humming the occasional tuneless little ditty in elevators, and chronically allowing the deadline for personal projects to slip past (the original mockups for snarkout.org were done in 1998, when CSS was but a meaningless acronym to me), I am a compulsive classifier. The world can be divided neatly into halves any number of wonderful ways: the Blue-vs.-Red political map Salon loves so; people who read for pleasure and those who would be caught dead before doing any such thing; cat lovers and dog lovers; pie people and their nemeses, cake people. Playing this game with food classifications makes a dandy little icebreaker, in fact, as it’s one of those things — like the Oscars or crimes of the century — that almost everyone has an opinion on. Determining what people called a carbonated soft drink in their part of the country (soda, pop, soda pop, and, strangely enough, Coke) was one of the ways people in my freshman dorm started conversations, which is probably to be expected, as I went to school in a state where milkshakes are called "cabinets."

I’m a pie person, not a cake person. I’d like coffee, not milk, with my chocolate cake. Dr Pepper, not Mountain Dew. And I like salty snacks. It’s not that I don’t want a cookie now and again, and I adore Fox’s Glacier Mints, the best candy ever from a country that makes damn good candy. But I’d almost always rather have a handful of Doritos or a pretzel than something sweet. (Sorry, Everglades-trashing sugar industry, but it’s true!) And thanks to the miracle of modern science (and the search capabilities of Google), I now know that there’s a reason that those of us in the halophilic side of the world are the potato-chip-craving way we are: our mothers’ morning sickness.

Ain’t science grand? And there have been whole conferences dedicated to studying umami, the fifth flavor, translated variously as "meatiness," "savoriness," or, as we like to refer to it at my house, "tastiness flavor." Knowing that there are serious researchers exploring why Parmesean cheese, MSG, and mushrooms taste so good helps me sleep better at night.