Ah yes, finally! We’ve now covered what goes through my mind’s, heart, body and soul through a Foodie’s sense of smell, sight, hearing and touch. Which leaves us with the most important interpretation of all — TASTE!
A depiction of someone actually eating something need not apply here, as pretty much any photo of food registers in our brain as related to the sense of TASTE, either familiar or not.
A BITTER-SWEET MOMENT
Getting scientific here for a brief moment, there are five known primary sensations of taste:
- Sweet – usually indicates energy rich nutrients
- Umami – the taste of amino acids
- Salty – allows modulating diet for electrolyte balance
- Sour – typically the taste of acids
- Bitter – allows sensing of diverse natural toxins
The Kitchen Geekery goes on to say:
“Our ability to taste comes from molecules (tastants) released during food intake, which stimulates special sensory cells in the mouth and throat. Humans’ sense taste via taste buds, which are numerous sensory cells clustered together. Each cluster contains about 50-150 taste cells.
These chemical tastants dissolve in saliva and are then able to enter the taste buds through pores. They then interact either with ion channels or the proteins on the surfaces of taste receptors. This triggers stimulation of chemical signals which causes them to be transmitted to the brain via the central nervous system.”
That absolutely fascinating article on the science of taste goes on to explain why it varies so much, just on a that sense alone, not even factoring in how our other senses we already covered, including smell and touch, and how that affects the final way our brain interprets how food tastes.
Which goes to show just how complex we as humans are, both biologically and psychologically. Who would have thought a woman would crave chocolate during that time of the month (ma’i) due to hormone changes? Or why I “binge” on Shrimp Cocktail for three weeks, then get sick of it, then the next three weeks, I binge on Japanese Ramen, and so on, and so on. It’s ultimately about how our brain reacts after we finally taste the food we eat, and our mood plays a huge part in every step of the process that leads to that. It’s VERY complicating.
I once did a post on the “Costco Sample Lady”, waxing eloquent about how odd it is that the food samples she hands out in the warehouse club TASTES SO ONO! in the store. However after you get suckered into buying it, then take it home and make it yourself, it’s not nearly as good as it tasted when you tried it in the store from da’ “Coshco Shample Leddeh”.
Well, I’m 99.99.759% + or – .001.423% sure it’s a lot more than the physical sense of TASTE in the mouth that’s going on here. Now we’re talking the sense of smell, sight, hearing and touch, which yes, is all factored in by AMBIANCE. The combined aromas and scents (SMELL) of all the wonderful food that “Coscos” is stocked with. Along with the abundant, well organized presentation (SIGHT). The comfortably cool feeling of the air conditioning and the cold handle of the massive shopping cart you’re pushing around, and all the groceries you’ve already handled and put in there (TOUCH). Add to that the SOUND of people in the store talking to each other, which makes us feel good, that we’re in a positive and friendly social environment.
So our brain instinctively connects those senses with HUNGER. And the more hungry we are? Yup, the better food TASTES! How novel!
I’LL COOK FOR YOU
You see where I’m going with this here, right? Taste is far beyond the physical, but has a lot to do with our psychology as well.
Again back to the “Costco Sample Lady”, not only do our sense of smell, sight, hearing and touch factor in to how food ultimately tastes, but also how we interact with it. Does the Costco Sample Lady’s cooking skills, her toaster oven, skillet and chopping board have “magical Irish powers” that somehow makes food just taste better there than you can at home with your comparably inferior resources? Of course not.
It’s because YOU haven’t yet TOUCHED, SMELLED, SEEN, HEARD and of course TASTED it yet. So when you finally get to sample the end result? Wow, effin’ aye, it tastes AWESOME!
CHANGE TAKING PLACES
All that said, as with everything else, when it comes to food, everyone has different tastes, of course. And not only that, our own sense of taste changes as we ourselves change through the course of our lives.
Like any other kid, as a little boy I used to LOVE sweets. Yet, ever since adulthood, not so much. However, I bet in my golden years I’ll be back on sweets again, as I’ve seen my parents and grandparents do. I also used to HATE Cilantro because I thought it smelled bad, and now I can’t get enough of it.
Yet like most folks, most of the foods I grew up with I still enjoy, because in every sense, right up to taste, it’s what I’m familiar with.
And with that, I can tell the difference in taste between one day old vs. three day old Poi. Rego’s Purity vs. Redondo’s Portuguese Sausage. Okahara vs. S&S Saimin. Rainbow Drive Inn vs. Zippy’s Chili. Young’s vs. Highway Inn’s Laulau. Can someone who didn’t grow up on those foods tell the difference in taste? Well, depends how much of a “Foodie” that person really is.
And that’s all there is to it. Hope you enjoyed this detailed 5-part look into my mind’s connection to its senses as a so-called “Foodie”.