What Are You Able To Taste?

August 4th, 2014

What are you able to taste?

Everyone seems to know there are really only four basic things you can taste: salty, sour, sweet, and bitter. Right? Later on we added a fifth one called umami or savoury to cover those items like mushrooms, cheese, cooked tomatoes, chicken, fish etc. that didn’t clearly fit into those basic four. I have always questioned this theory of such limited taste senses. I often thought I could smell and also taste different basic elements in many foods and even some wines like the grassy herbal fresh sauvignon blanc to the kerosene petrol of aged riesling. Now there is growing research support for this premise set out in an article by Peter Andrey Smith published by the New York Times in their Well Section on July 22, 2014 titled “Beyond Salty and Sweet: A Budding Club of Tastes.”  They state that “Contrary to popular belief, there is no tongue map – responsiveness is present in all areas of the tongue.” Richard D Mattes a professor of nutrition science at Purdue University is quoted “What started off as a challenge to the pantheon of basic tastes has now opened up, so that the whole question is whether taste is even limited to a very small number of primaries.” The author mentions support for many new tastes to consider including listed soapiness, lysine, electric, alkaline, hydroxide, metallic and fattiness. This later one seems to have the most support and varies from the rich gooey texture we like to the rancid taste as a warning sign that we don’t like it. What are you able to taste? What expansion of basic tastes do you support?

Do you believe that humans have more than the four basic tastes?

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August 4th, 2014

One Response

  1. Unless you have experimented with tasting something while tightly holding your nose, you simply cannot know whether you are smelling the substance or tasting it; and then many times you are still not sure. I have only experimented with this a few times, and was impressed with the number of sensations I could not identify without smelling. But… and this is a big “but”… what I have experimented with is a tiny percentage of everything out there. However, based on my limited experiments, there was nothing but the basic “tastes” that I could identify without smelling. One caveat: I had not heard of Umami when I last tried this experiment.

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