Friday, July 8, 2011

Taste- Post 2

When it comes to describing taste, it is generally described in 5 basic sensations: salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and umami. The process of taste begins with the tongue where receptors are stimulated by the taste. The surface of the tongue also contains papillae, which is the ridges caused by the presence of structures. Taste buds are contained on the papillae and there are about 10,000 taste buds. There are a number of cells that make up each bud and the tip of each one sticks out into a taste pore. Within each cell, one or more nerve fibers are associated with it. Below is an image showing where each sensation is tasted on the tongue by taste buds.

I always questioned why I can never taste any type of food when I'm really sick and congested. I found it interesting to read about flavor actually being combined with nasal and oral stimulation. The book used the demonstration to pinch your nostrils shut while drinking a type of juice or eating any type of food. They have come to the conclusion that you will experience tasteless liquids and food. This was fantastic for me to read about due to my Italian grandmother who cooks a lot. Whenever there is something that I do not like and unable to eat it, she becomes extremely insulted. So now I know to just try and pinch my nose shut and eat something I do not like!

What I also found interesting about the taste buds is that they change over time as you get older. As you become older, taste buds may start to decrease. Usually salty and sweet tastes are lost first, but bitter and sour tastes can last slightly longer. For the longest time I have always had it in my head that taste buds change regardless after every 7 years, but that's not entirely true. In addition, a decreased sense of taste can also be caused by smoking or can be related to diseases as well.

The following Youtube video further explains about the tongue and taste buds. Each person experience their own taste, which some taste buds are more sensitive than others. After watching this video, I am very glad that I am not a "supertaster".


  1. While this can be handy for eating foods that one does not like I just found this whole idea fascinating as when I am cooking myself I now know that there are certain basic flavors that I can always play around with. While there are many subtleties, of course, the basic and most strong flavors as above are the things that should be focused on first in order to make a good dish.

    It is also interesting as on the radio a few weeks ago I heard an interview with a man who essentially had no sense of smell. As he was talking it was very interesting as when he ate food he could only taste things in the above broad categories of bitter, sour, sweet, and salty. That is it! What a bland world he must live in and he even said specifically that food tends to be rather boring for him. Clearly, smell is as important as our tongue when it comes to tasting and enjoying (or not enjoying) foods.

  2. I thought this post was very interesting. I always thought that smell and taste went together. After reading the text and this post it has affirmed my thought. What is also interesting that I've experienced, and a few of my friends have told me they've experienced, is that when given some medicated eye drops it can be tasted in the back of the throat. The first time it happened to me I thought it was very disgusting! It is interesting though that the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are connected.

    The video in this post was interesting. I always wondered why the same foods taste different to different people. Before this class I never heard of "super tasters".