Imagine experiencing a deeply spiced curry, or a rich, buttery risotto, without your sense of smell, or of taste. You wouldn’t want to. But there’s an element at play in your flavor experiences more crucial than any one of your senses alone: your brain. The very thing that allows you to imagine a tasteless dish creates a tasteful one, every time you eat.
A new article from Culinate considers the way our brains synthesize all of our sensory experiences to create one taste, or flavor. (And we thought cooking could be a lot of work.) Surprisingly, our tongues aren’t the most important player, second to the brain: the most imperative component of flavor is actually smell, not taste, which we evidently do in two different ways.
Hidden in the article, too, is a pearl of encouragement for those of us who cook, as though we needed any at all:
“Cooking, writes Shepherd, has allowed us to take in more energy faster, increased our pleasure in eating, and driven us to wander the world over in search of new flavors. Our preference for cooked food has impelled us to organize societies to hunt, gather, and raise food; to store and protect it; to create vessels and utensils to prepare it; and to eat together.”
How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters from Culinate
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