Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines taste as:
(noun) the one of the special senses that perceives and distinguishes the sweet, sour, bitter, or salty quality….
(verb) to ascertain the flavor of by taking a little into the mouth.
Due to conceptual and word redundancy in the definitions, I’ve cut them short. The essence of the sense is that means are provided to determine taste. The tongue receives chemical signals that are translated into tastes by the brain and flavor with the help of the nose. Taste buds line the surface of the tongue; they contain taste receptors that each specialize in a particular kind of chemical molecule associated with a particular taste. This mapping is similar to sensory specialization [see Touch] and odor specialization [see Smell]. The taste receptors transduce the chemicals into signals then sent to the thalamus and relayed to the primary and secondary taste cortex in the frontal lobe for interpretation.
Four basic tastes are sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Two controversial tastes are umami (Japanese for “yummy,” more or less; Okami, 2013) and fatty. Flavor happens when tastes are combined with smell. For example, taste determines that the ice cream is sweet and flavor determines that the ice cream is peppermint, not chocolate.
1. Tap into all six different tastes. Plan out ideal representations for each taste in as much isolation as possible from other tastes. For the purist form, you may take in honey for sweet and salt for salty. Or consider more substance. Below are possibilities:
Umami…...... Seafood, cured meats, mushrooms (savory)
2. Use recipes or buy food products bold in combining tastes. Examples include salted caramel ice cream or cranberry horseradish sauce. Post examples of what you tried.
Cranberry horseradish sauce
1 (12-oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1 (6-oz) jar prepared horseradish, including juice, or 1/4 cup firmly packed finely grated peeled fresh
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
Bring cranberries, horseradish, sugar, and water to a simmer in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved. Simmer, uncovered, stirring and mashing berries frequently with spoon, until berries break down, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve sauce warm or at room temperature.
3. To experiment with natural flavors, avoid processed foods for a day or a week as well. This is disturbingly difficult to do because processed foods are prevalent and often easier to access. One strategy is to only shop on the periphery of grocery stores where everything fresh resides. Similarly, cook with only fresh ingredients: herbs, garlic, cranberries. The flavor is so much more vibrant.
4. Food that combines fat and sugar doesn’t reside in the natural world. Recent research explores the brain’s limbic system reaction to such foods. Activating the limbic system can be experienced as pleasurable and drive further consumption of high fat/high sugar foods. Take back control. Experiment with reducing intake of such food combinations. Also consider limiting high sugar beverage consumption. Drinks such as soda are high in calories and low in nutrition.
5. The site active.com has an article listing 10 bitter foods that purportedly cleanse the body and boost performance. Try it out. The foods include: arugula, bitter melon (small cucumber with bumpy skin), coffee, dandelion greens, dill, Jerusalem artichokes (knobby potato-looking vegetables), kale, saffron, sesame seeds, turmeric. Post on how effective the bitter foods are at cleansing and energizing.