10 Things We’ve Learned About Taste

Smithsonian Magazine:

Tomorrow, most Americans will say they are grateful for many things–except, chances are, they will forget an important one, taken for granted.

I’m talking about our sense of taste, a faculty more nuanced than sight or hearing or touch, and one that’s become sadly under appreciated as eating has turned into just another thing we multi-task.

But this is a holiday during which the sense is celebrated, if only for a few hours. We savor flavors again, slow down enough to remember there are actually five distinct tastes we experience–sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami, or meaty–instead of one indefinable gulp of bland.

In that spirit, let’s pay due respect to taste with a rundown of what research has taught us this year about the sense.

But it’s still weird to keep different foods from touching on your plate: If you engage in some kind of ritual before you eat food, you are more likely to enjoy it, concludes a study published in Psychological Science. In one of several experiments they performed on the subject, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that people who were instructed to first break a chocolate bar in half, unwrap one half and eat it, then repeat the process with the other half rated the treat higher–and were willing to pay more money for it–than people who were told to eat the chocolate however they wanted.

Read the whole story: Smithsonian Magazine

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