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"My drive now is the fascination of why one dish can taste fantastic to one person and disgusting to another and how we process the information from our mouths to our brain."

I am intrigued by your above statement. Do you have any preliminary findings as to why people "taste" things so differently?

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Eating is the only thing we do that involves all of the senses. I don’t think that we realize just how much influence the senses actually have on the way that we process the information from mouth to brain.

So many things influence the way that we perceive flavour. Even just the acceptability of food involves a complex process of evaluation.

Firstly, we register the basic tastes, sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami. These are then broken down into sub tastes, for example, spicy, metallic and astringent.

We then evaluate the intensity of the flavour and its aroma along with the texture and temperature of the food, something vital to whether we decide to like it or not. Up to now these factors have been directly linked to taste.

Now we have to process information that is indirectly linked to taste but directly linked to palatability. The colour and general appearance of the food and even its’ sound will have an influential role to play.

Finally, even with all of this information processed we have not quite finished; whatever our food may taste like, it still has to pass on the accessibility stakes!

Our health and mood will also directly affect whether or not we like a particular food, as will our environment and cultural background.

This complex process might explain why one food can taste so good to one person and so bad to another! It really is that subjective.

This might also explain just why our pre-conceptions can, on their own decide for us whether or not we like the taste of something.

Eating, above all should be a thing of pleasure and, dare I say it, fun! It should stir conversation and not stern silence. It should excite, charm and challenge and not become a chore.

There is alot of work being done at the moment on this very subject by people ranging from Nerologiists to Prof. of flavour technology and is something that warrants pages of text.

Heston Blumenthal

The Fat Duck

The Fat Duck website

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