Food and the 5 senses

Smell and taste

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Four… or more tastes?

Sweet, salty, sour, bitter and...
At the end of the 19th century, we knew about 4 tastes: sweet, salty, sour and bitter.

... the fifth basic taste is called umami. Have you ever heard of it?
The Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda discovered the fifth basic taste in 1908. He called this taste umami, which means tasty in Japanese.
Umami comes from sodium glutamate and is found in a wide range of Asian dishes as well as in meat, sauces and mature cheeses, etc. 

So, today there are 5 basic tastes.

On the tip of your tongue?
The whole surface of your tongue picks up tastes, but the intensity varies between different parts of your tongue.
For example, you perceive bitterness mostly on the back of your tongue, whereas sweet food is best perceived on the tip of your tongue.

Do we talk about a strawberry flavour or a strawberry taste?
We often talk about the flavour of strawberries, but it is actually an olfactory experience, so we should refer to a strawberry aroma and say that strawberries have a sweet and sour taste.

What are trigeminal sensations?
If your mouth burns when you eat chilli peppers, if pepper makes you sneeze and onions make you cry, and if mint gives you a nice fresh feeling, these are all trigeminal sensations. They are caused by the chemical molecules in food and are transmitted to your brain by your trigeminal nerve.

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