DailyDirt: Can't Trust Your Tastebuds

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Our senses can be fooled pretty easily. A blue dress can look like it’s white. And if our eyes can be fooled so easily, our tastebuds don’t really stand much of a chance. If someone tells you a bottle of wine is aged and expensive, it’s not easy to disprove that assertion with a taste test. Here are just a few other ways to fool people’s tastebuds.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Can't Trust Your Tastebuds”

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6 Comments
Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Food glorious food.

Firstly, it is well known in the food industry that people do ‘eat with their eyes’ and many can be fooled with a great presentation.

Secondly, food tasting is something that is not trained, at least not in the culinary school I attended. Wine tasting was, and that went a long way to helping me. Professionals are fooled all the time. Several chefs in the Washington DC area got a bunch of food critics behind a screed on a Public Television show, and tore them apart for their erroneous assumptions.

Thirdly, there is such a thing as people who are super tasters. They apparently have many more taste buds than non super tasters. I am not a super taster, but use other indicators to aid me (see below).

Fourthly, along with firstly, colors and textures have a lot to do with discerning what one is eating. An experienced person who has had some training knows what to look for (and anybody doing a tasting for Jimmy Kimmel on TV should know better than to expect normality).

Finaly, the treatment of foods has a great deal to do with how it is perceived. I once got reviewed where the reviewer glowed over the fresh peas they were served. I know I was in the kitchen that night, and was training the cook on how to properly treat our vegetable du jour. Now, one in the know, knows that frozen vegetables are by definition, already cooked, so one trick is to not cook them more, but to just make them hot. This is what I taught the cook, as well as to do it in small batches, a la minute if you will. Boy was he surprised at that review, as well as my food vendor who came in wondering why all his customers were asking him why he sold me fresh peas, and not them. He kept telling them, we don’t carry fresh peas. I told him the story, and then told him how to tell his other clients how to achieve similar results.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Protip: Artifical vs. Natural ingredients.

Artificial ingredients such as when you see artificial flavors on the ingredients list are components made with laboratory processes. Such as salt (which we never really make artificially) would be made by combining chlorine and sodium.

Natural ingredients are extracted from a natural source. Natural salt would be extracted from a mine or from the sea. Natural ingredients tend to include impurities from the source, which may or may not be a good thing. Artificial sources tend to be more pure.

Flavors whether natural or artificial are made when a flavorist puts together a bunch of components to match what he or she things a flavor should taste like. There’s probably not a drop of actual cherry (or even maraschino) in Cherry Coke or Cherry Pepsi.

Just FYI.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Protip: Artifical vs. Natural ingredients.

That brings up the whole seasoning vs flavoring vs flavor additive equation.

Seasonings are limited to salt, pepper, citrus (primarily lemon and lime juice) and MSG. MSG used to be abhorred for severe influences on asthmatics, but science has changed their minds on that.

Flavorings would include things like pepper sauces, Worcestershire, vinegar’s, etc.

Additives would be like ketchup and mustard into sauces, or wines or other alcoholic beverages.

The purpose of seasonings is to bring out the natural flavors existent in the main ingredient. When used for that purpose, they should not be tasted. When seasoning is taught, the instructor starts with something simple like a soup or a sauce. Then adds a little seasoning at each step, and requires a taste. When the ‘brightness’ appears then the students understand the difference of before and after. Then the instructor goes beyond, to show that difference as well. There are some exceptions. Take Steak au Poivre as an example. Crushed peppercorns are pressed into a steak before cooking, and express a distinctive, and intended peppery flavor in the end result. There are also exceptions for salt and citrus, ceviche comes to mind.

What a chef hates to see is when his/her properly seasoned dish is set down in front of someone, and they automatically reach for the salt shaker and pour it on. In many many years of practice, I have never figured out why, explicitly. I have many conjectures.

It also used to be that the tongue could only taste four things. Salt, sweet, acid, and basic. the salt and sweet were on the sides, and the acid on the front and the basic on the back. These still hold true. But in around 1900 a Japanese person identified Umami, and in the 1990’s or so the rest of the world recognized this. Umami is tasted at the center of the tongue, and is described as ‘goodness’. If you make a soup from scratch begining with bones, and do it enough times, you can tell the difference between one that has Umami and one that does not.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ve heard lots of people say that organic food tastes better, fresher, etc. Usually along with claims of it being more nutritious. However, it’s very solidly established that neither of those things are actually true.

As near as I can tell, the only claim that is made about organic food that seems to hold up is that it is better for the environment to produce.

Anonymous Coward says:

Organic foods aren’t better in appearance, flavor, nor nutritional value. Organic is about avoiding man-made chemicals that that may slowly poison you. Pesticides are watered down nerve agents. Too high of a dose and you will literally shit yourself.
There are many ingredients added to foods in the US that are illegal to add to foods in other countries. I don’t understand why anyone would risk their long term health by eating foods that contain some of these ingredients.

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