Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

nickrey

Seventh Taste?

Recommended Posts

The article in this link describes research that indicates that humans vary in their ability to identify the level of presence of fatty acids by taste even when they are in texture-matched foods such as custard.

If this is correct, we taste food along the four conventional Western Taste Dimensions (Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter); the additional Asian Dimensions (Umami, Piquancy); and Fat.

Sensitivity to the fat taste was shown to vary between individuals. Those who are more sensitive to fat tend to eat less of it and have a correspondingly lower BMI.

The scholarly reference for the story is: Stewart, J.E., Feinle-Bisset, C., Golding, M., Delahunty, C., Clifton, P.M. & Keast, R.S.J. (2010). Oral sensitivity to fatty acids, food consumption and BMI in human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition. (First View Article).


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just thinking about what I was going to label as taste number six, but reading your summary I guess I'm proposing taste number eight: metallic. The metallic taste doesn't seem to fit into any of the existing categories, or does it?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my line of work, metallic sort of falls into umami or bitter, when it's being rated, and that's pretty much what I do every day is rate things based on tastes. Not flavors or aromatics, but tastes. We use umami, and we also have a scale for "biting/heating" which is probably the same as piquancy.

As far as my job goes, fat and fatty compounds come in as a mouthfeel, which is a whole other set of ratings. I would be interested to see (or get involved with) more research on fat as an actual taste.

Really groundbreaking stuff.

Some of the things in the article missed, for me, like that umami is the taste of protein rich foods. It's more than that, it's found heavily in tomatoes, seaweeds, and loads of vegetables, but not found in bland plain chicken or much in eggs, as far as I know. Also, they only tested 33 people? It's a good start, but I'd want to see a more widespread study, like with thousands.

I know some people can't taste bitterness, or taste it differently. Something like 33% of people. Some people I work with can't, and it's something we have to keep in mind, when presenting data.

Very interesting. I'll have to ask my boss about it, this would interest him.


Edited by Lilija (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fat is such a crucial nutrient that it seems quite plausible to me that evolution would equip us with receptors to detect it and hence give us a basic taste sensation of fattiness.

But is it a sixth or a seventh taste?

The case against piquancy/hotness (as being basic taste number six) is that it is detected not by taste buds but by the nerves - that's why chilli peppers produce a hot sensation if rubbed on the eyes or any sensitive spot not just on the tongue. (I doubt if rubbing a lump of parmesan on some sensitive skin gives us an umami/savory sensation - though I haven't tried it!) Evolution didn't give us any specific taste receptors for detecting piquancy, instead it just gave us nerves with general ability to warn of heat/pain. So, biologically piquancy is not a distinct taste, but admittedly culturally it could well be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just thinking about what I was going to label as taste number six, but reading your summary I guess I'm proposing taste number eight: metallic. The metallic taste doesn't seem to fit into any of the existing categories, or does it?

What does metallic taste like? What foods set off this sensation?


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me it's mostly either non-food items or combinations of foods. For example, dental fillings and iodine both can trigger a metallic taste sensation. Likewise, I get it if I drink red wine and shellfish together.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe the metallic taste requires an electric current, like chewing aluminum foil with amalgam fillings. Human blood tastes metallic to me, it makes me think of iron. That is, my own blood from a hockey stick to the mouth or some other injury.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Human blood tastes metallic to me, it makes me think of iron. That is, my own blood from a hockey stick to the mouth or some other injury.

Pleased you clarified that ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Heat" or "burn" falls in the sensory category, trigeminal, along with cooling (menthol) and carbonation. These are not considered basic tastes.

I think there is a greater variety of basic tastes than the ones identified so far. Various minerals other than sodium can surely be detected. Zinc (think of those cold lozenges) and potassium chloride (Mrs. Dash) are definitely perceived on the tongue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The person who introduced me to artichokes about 50 years ago described them as tasting like "iron". Some truth in that, I think.

It seems that there may be a confusion between basic taste categories and tasting. You can identify "chicken" on your tongue, but that does not mean there is a basic taste called chicken.


Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The research I've seen from the last decade seems to dismiss the idea that there only a half dozen or so discreet tastes. Much of this yet to be supported by multiple studies, but my impression is that there are over a dozen known tastes, and a likelihood that more will be discovered. Among these are several distinct forms of bitterness, at least one metalic taste, alkalinity (we perceive it as soapiness), and fat. This is in a addition to umami, which may still be uncategorized, and non-taste physical sensations like pungency, "coolness," and tanins.


Notes from the underbelly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"It seems that there may be a confusion between basic taste categories and tasting. You can identify "chicken" on your tongue, but that does not mean there is a basic taste called chicken."

There's two components to flavor: basic taste and aroma (or more specifically, aroma-in-the-mouth). If you can smell it, it's an aroma in the mouth, not a taste. The majority of chicken flavor comes from its aroma, combined with maybe a little umami and a smidgeon of salt on the tongue.

I still maintain that there are other minerals besides salt whose taste we can discriminate on the tongue, although the jury's still out on that. I can't smell zinc but I know I can taste it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What does metallic taste like? What foods set off this sensation?

Some raw oysters have a metallic taste. I'm thinking specifically of Belons (European flat oysters) which taste a little bit like licking a battery, but not in an unpleasant way... at least not to me.


Edited by isomer (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oysters are high in zinc and iron, which I guess is what is responsible for the metallic taste.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brilliant! Can't wait to have a thorough read of this article. On the same topic, I found a recent article in Chemical Reviews (below) to be a very good (and simple) summary of the current thoughts about taste. It covers some of the issues raised in this thread too.

Molecular Gastronomy: A New Emerging Scientific Discipline. Peter Barham, Leif H. Skibsted, Wender L. P. Bredie, Michael Bom Frøst, Per Møller, Jens Risbo, Pia Snitkjær, Louise Mørch Mortensen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got this "talent"  in fact, many years ago I did a "party trick" because I could tell what type of fat was in pie pastry (or some other baked goods)  in blind tastings.  The only time I was stumped was when a strong spice was included in the mix - cinnamon and cardamom were the main culprits.  But plain biscuits, rolls and any "short" pastry like pie dough or similar types, were a cinch.

 

I could tell the difference between lard, vegetable shortening, butter and margarine and even some combinations.

 

People could not figure out how I did it but to me the tastes were distinctive and I couldn't understand why other people could not taste the difference.

Of course that was when I was quite young and there was none of this "modern" research.

  • Like 2

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I too can tell what kind of fat is in most foods/recipes just by taste. I avoid most fatty foods. I particularly dislike (and I can always tell it is present) margarine (never been fooled - it is definitely NOT butter), but, I am not a fan of lard or vegetable shortening either.

 

Looking back at the beginning of this old thread, I see according to research, I should have a much lower BMI as a result. I wish that were true.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could never consume margarine - way back in the '50s, when I first tasted it, I thought it had kerosene in it because that is how it tasted to me.

 

I once nearly got thrown out of a restaurant because the dish of "butter pats" that was on the table was clearly margarine, even though in the menu only BUTTER was mentioned with pancakes and waffles.

The server insisted it was butter but I knew it was not and could plainly taste the chemical flavor.

I refused to eat the waffle that also had a pat of the stuff on it.

 

Finally the manager came to the table and asked me about my complaint.  He took the server aside and shortly she took my plate away and the little bowl of margarine, came back a few minutes later with another waffle and a small cup of whipped butter and it was actually butter.

  • Like 2

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could never consume margarine - way back in the '50s, when I first tasted it, I thought it had kerosene in it because that is how it tasted to me.

 

I once nearly got thrown out of a restaurant because the dish of "butter pats" that was on the table was clearly margarine, even though in the menu only BUTTER was mentioned with pancakes and waffles.

The server insisted it was butter but I knew it was not and could plainly taste the chemical flavor.

I refused to eat the waffle that also had a pat of the stuff on it.

 

Finally the manager came to the table and asked me about my complaint.  He took the server aside and shortly she took my plate away and the little bowl of margarine, came back a few minutes later with another waffle and a small cup of whipped butter and it was actually butter.

 

I've had similar experiences in London. Small restaurants/cafés/greasy spoons offering bread and butter or buttered toast. I always asked "Is the butter really butter? and was usually told yes, but it often wasn't. It was the cheapest possible margarine.

I always complained, seldom successfully.

(I should add that was about 20 - 30 years ago.)

  • Like 1

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With people drinking 2%, fat-free. skimmed milk, low fat cheeses --- nowadays, I would think that butter would be plentiful and would be free.

 

dcarch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...