You can't argue about taste… Or can you?
For a chef, everything revolves around taste and experience. Thanks to the sense of taste and smell, your guests can enjoy your well-thought out creations. But how does taste work? We will fill you in.
How do we taste?
Tasting starts when you see food. Picture this: A deliciously juicy, fried steak with a perfect degree of cooking, the smell of caramelized onion with mushrooms and garlic. Is your mouth watering yet? So that's how it works. When you take a bite, you can taste the flavours with the aromas flowing into the nose through the oral cavity.
The nose contains a lot of smell receptors with which the flavours are perceived. Tasting by mouth is called retronasal. Tasting via the odour receptors in the nose is called orthonasal. When you have a cold, you are reminded how important the nose is for tasting. This is because the nose is blocked, so the aromas do not reach the receptors in the nose.
There's no arguing about taste
But there is when it comes to tasting! It is a very personal experience. You taste with your eyes, ears, mouth and nose, but atmosphere is also linked to the perception of taste. How often do you hear that that one wine was delicious during a holiday, while exactly the same wine at home makes very little impression.
Your way of tasting changes constantly, the taste of a product or dish remains the same, but your experience with it is different after the first bite or sip. So, even your memory plays a role in tasting. Taste is therefore linked to our personal history, upbringing and culture.
The fact that you can taste the different basic tastes on different parts of your tongue is a myth that has been around for a long time. All basic tastes can be perceived all over the tongue. Your tongue is full of taste buds that contain taste receptors, which can recognize all 5 basic tastes(salt, sweet, sour, bitter, umami).
Not only your tongue provides a taste sensation, but receptors in your palate are also much smaller than those on your tongue. Not everyone tastes equally well, just as you also have people who see or hear less well. It is partly innate and above all, also dependent on your lifestyle and experience with different flavours.
In addition to taste, several other sensations can be felt in the mouth such as: texture, fizz/tang and pain, temperature and the degree to which the jaws have to be exerted. The sensation that food gives in the mouth provides important clues about what we are eating.
When we eat pureed dishes, we can hardly recognize what it once was. The Dutch taste professor, Peter Klosse explains that certain types of food provide the same experience. Salt and lemon both give an astringent sensation in the mouth, so try to omit some salt and add some lemon juice to reduce the salt content in your dish.
Do you have a taste for more?
Are you curious for more information about taste, flavour perception and aroma’s? Check out the following books:
- From food to perception – Elisabeth Guichard
- The Art of flavour – Daniel Patterson