Tag Archives: sour

SOUR, THE MOUTH-WATERING TASTE

Pickled in vinegar ... make your mouth water?

Pickled in vinegar … does this really make your mouth water?

(Originally posted on Sensorium, May 4 2014)

“Sour is the Basic Taste that makes our mouth water the most”, says Barb Stuckey in Taste: What You’re Missing:

This happens because a supersour food enters the mouth with more acidity than the permanent resident, saliva, which rushes in to try to manage this huge change in acidity in the mouth … Once there’s enough saliva to dilute the sourness, the waterworks stop. (pp. 227-228)

I thought that was interesting, but it was only the start of a fascinating exploration of sourness.

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SALT, THE DISREPUTABLE FLAVOUR

Many different kinds of salt are sold at the supermarket these days. Which is kind of strange, given salt's bad reputation.

Many different kinds of salt are sold at the supermarket these days. Which is kind of strange, given salt’s bad reputation.

(Originally posted in Sensorium, March 10 2014.)

The labels are everywhere on supermarket products. “No added salt”. Or “Reduced salt”. And it’s common knowledge why that is.

Salt—which used to be so highly prized—is now considered mighty unhealthy.

So why does my small and limited local supermarket stock a whole range of different kinds of salt? I can buy the regular iodised kind, sea salt flakes, and preloaded grinders filled with exotic varieties including pink Himalayan, blue Persian, smoked Cyprus and black Cyprus. That’s a lot of choices of something as elemental as salt.

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EATING BITTER

Bitter melons— some people crave them, and other people find them unbelievably awful.

Bitter melons—
some people crave them, and other people find them unbelievably awful.

(Originally posted on Sensorium, January 27 2014)

Eating bitter”: in Chinese culture, the phrase refers to “necessary suffering to get to a better end”—a resigned, determined reaction to the vicissitudes of life.

John Thorne, in his essay “Reflections on a Tin of Vienna Sausages”, understands the phrase in a more head-on, assertive way, as meaning “to endure bitterness by wilfully eating it” (p. 187).

Although the two interpretations are different, both of them link the emotion of bitterness with the flavour.

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12 THINGS I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT TASTE

Salty, sweet, bitter and sour: a balanced meal?

Salty, sweet, bitter and sour: a balanced meal?

(Originally posted on Sensorium, October 28 2013)

Strangely, Diane Ackerman’s section on taste in her wonderful A Natural History of the Senses pays much attention to food, food rituals and food symbolism (pp. 127-172), but little to the actual experience of tasting. This intrigued me, because taste is a sense that gives us great pleasure. Even so, there is a kind of irony there. We often eat unthinkingly; the true abilities of our sense of taste go unused and unnoticed.

When I began looking into taste, I soon learned a whole heap of interesting things. Here are 12 things that convinced me I needed to pay more attention to what was going on in my mouth.

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