Last week I wrote about what taste really is and focused on the taste buds themselves .But we experience food with all our senses. Today I'm going to focus on how we experience food with our other senses in addition to taste.
The direct taste experience mainly consists of a combination of taste, aroma and touch. Where we often focus on the combination of taste and aroma, that is what we would call flavor. It's flavor we really talk about if we say that something tastes like raspberries or bananas. It is difficult to distinguish between what is smell and what is taste when we put food in our mouths. Therefore you have the word flavor to describe the experience. The problem that arises, is that flavor is sometimes used as word when it's really talked about pure scent, which leads to confusion. The scent of food can also change between when we smell the food with our nose and when we experience it in our mouth. Because we experience aroma even when we have the food in our mouths and chew. Which occurs through the pharynx which has an open passage between the mouth and nose. When we chew the food, fragrances can be released that we could not perceive before, which leads to a different smell sometimes.
The taste experience is also very directly affected by the texture of the food, which we feel with our touch. Here, there are certain components that have been questioned if it is touch or should be considered as taste. Like the feeling of heat in a chilli or the cooling feeling of mint. The most talked about are tannins, substances that give a tightening or dehydrating feeling in the mouth. You do not feel any of it if you spill a dry wine on the skin, but notice it clearly in the mouth. Is it then a feeling or taste? However, the more concrete different textures we experience in the food is something we clearly feel with our touch. And the texture plays a big role in our experience of a meal, which I also mentioned in a previous post. When it comes to textures, you usually need at least three different within a dish to make it feel complete. If you only have one or two textures, the food is often perceived as quite flat. Which may be one of the reasons why it can be difficult to appreciate food when you have chewing and swallowing problems, which requires a more uniform texture of the food.
However, we are also greatly affected by the appearance of the food and then it is perhaps more about how we perceive the food psychologically than purely physically. Food that looks appealing and that we perceive as looking good, will create an expectation in us and we can feel how it starts to water in the mouth and we become hungrier. Just thinking about good food can make us feel this. Or scrolling through pictures of amazing food, so I'm starting to get quite hungry writing about this.:)
The sense that is usually talked least about when it comes to the taste experience is hearing. But it too has a big impact on how we will perceive food we are eating. Especially on if we at all will perceive how the food tastes. Since all the senses work all the time and everything is processed by the same brain, we can have a hard time perceiving impressions from one sense at the same time as another is overloaded. This means that it is difficult to appreciate the taste of fantastic food in a messy environment. And many times when we eat, it may not be the food we focus on. It may be more important to make sure that the children get something to eat or that you focus on the conversation with your date. However, I have a hard time eating in total silence also (know that there are people who prefer it though). Since the conversation and the whole meal experience is so important to me. If I want to take in more of the flavors, I prefer to close my eyes temporarily, to relax the sight and be able to focus more on the pure taste experience. We can also trigger the taste with the help of hearing and then it is mainly about crisp tastes (which is really a touch sensation). For who does not get hungry for chips or apple, when you hear someone eat that?
No matter how we twist and turn the whole thing, all the senses are involved in our experience of the food we eat. But as I also mentioned, there is much more that affects too. Which I will delve more into the coming weeks. There is so much more to say about all this. Therefore, I will offer a course for anyone who want to deepen their knowledge and get concrete tips on how to develop their own taste experience. I'm launching that in Swedish in the coming days and I hope to be able to give it in English within a couple of months.
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Remember: Only eat what you enjoy and enjoy all you eat.
Hope to see you next week!