Culture Science

The taste makers

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 “We are just beginning to scratch the surface of what happens when a molecule binds with the tongue, and then all of the biochemical events that happen after that to get a perception. If you imagine a domino trail, we’ve knocked off maybe four or five dominoes, and have a thousand more.” Taste receptors are blunt instruments. With taste alone, one cannot distinguish a grape lollipop from a watermelon one; coffee is like hot water with a bitter aftertaste, and Coke a bland sugary solution. The limitations of taste are unsurprising when one considers its evolutionary purpose. Our biological progenitors, living in the wilderness, needed to know only what was worth eating and what wasn’t. If something tasted sweet, there was a good chance that it provided energy; saltiness suggested the presence of minerals; sourness indicated the level of ripeness, and bitterness the presence of poison.

Read The Taste Makers: The secret world of the flavor factory

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.