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emhahn

3 Most Important Elements of a Plate...

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"Taste is about the ability to notice things properly. I can't stress the word properly enough, especially the ability to notice which elements are present and work in harmony with other elements. And while that might include noticing and appreciating enhancements, which change perceptions, it will always be about the ability to notice what is actually there, not what is only perceived to be there."

Steve, taste is just not finite. How we taste things is very personal and according to Helen Bauch "may very well be as individual as our fingerprints." To quote Diane Ackerman, "A Natural History of the Senses" : "No two of us taste the same plum."

When you speak of taste, the definition, in its purest form is actually a very narrow definition. It includes the 4 basic tastes - sweet, sour, salty and bitter plus the fifth unami which is somewhat controversial and based on a reaction to the glutamate ion and translates as tasty or "yummy."

Quoting Bauch again: "All other experiences during the evaluation of flavor are not taste, but are related to odor, the feeling factors - texture, pressure, pain and temperature, and finally, sight and sound."

Moreover, you eat with your brain as well as your mouth. Andy Lynes wrote an interesting article on The Fat Duck. http://www.ukgourmet.com/heston.html

Part of his review said:

"I still disliked the crab, pigeon and pea creation for the simple reason that it reminded me of the texture of the chivers jelly and evaporated milk that my mother used to give me for dessert occasionally. On reading his notes, it turned out that this childhood taste memory of jelly coated with cream was exactly the sensation that Heston was trying to emulate. He loved it, I hated it."

A part of taste, then, is memory association.

Taste preference is also culturally linked. One man's meat is anothers poison. They have even done experiments that show that what a mother ate during her pregnancy influences flavor preferences of infants. They had two groups of pregnant women, one group drank either water or carrot juice. When cereal was introduced into the diet of the infants, the infants whose mothers drank carrot juice seem to prefer the carrot-flavored cereal more than the "regular" cereal.

edit: spelling


Edited by lizziee (log)

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Liz - All of that is true. Except it doesn't matter very much. Food is still tied to the good ingredients standard. Nobody orders a Bresse chicken to have it taste like a Landes chicken, or a Bell & Evans chicken, or a Purdue chicken, or to taste like a duck. So it doesn't really make a difference that taste isn't finite, or that you taste things differently then I do. The differences between us are so small that we manage to like the same restaurants.

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So it doesn't really make a difference that taste isn't finite, or that you taste things differently then I do. The differences between us are so small that we manage to like the same restaurants.

But the *real* question is, do you and Lizzie taste things differently, slightly or otherwise, because of how they look?

I think it's the end of my shift.

:laugh:

edited grammar


Edited by indiagirl (log)

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But the *real* question is, do you and Lizzie taste things differently, slightly or otherwise, because of how they look?

Even if we do, it's not enough of a difference to make a difference.

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Scenario 2 - A molecule of food is brought to your table. It smells divine. It looks gorgeous. Your mouth does not water.

why shouldn't it?

give up, guys. plotters is right.


christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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Lizzie, you raised some interesting issues in your last few posts. But I want to stick to my own angle on this, which is to do with one individual person's perception of taste. I am trying to remove the variables of whether one person perceives differently from another, or has different memories and associations, or is a super-taster as against a non-taster.

I'm also trying (successfully) to resist Wilfrid's diversion into defining the nature of taste, or the different meanings people apply to the word. Similarly the Prof's and the Profess's scientific approach to proving the influence of external (and alternative internal) agencies on perception. That paper on Synesthesia is fascinating, isn't it ?

I am sticking to Macrosan's Chicken Experiment. One person at one point in time in one location, virtually all the possible variables removed apart from cosmetic presentation, tasting two dishes which I maintain taste identical. The only person on this thread who answered my question "Would they taste different" has been The Prof, and he simply stipulated that they would without offering any evidence apart from his own belief. However, my supreme confidence in the Prof leads me to believe that he will actually conduct my experiment on himself and maybe Mrs Prof :smile: and report back on the results. But no-one else has expressed a view on my experiment, and I am deeply hurt by this :sad: Perhaps Bresse chicken wasn't a sufficiently enticing ingredient, so I am willing to up the stakes to Osetra caviar :raz:

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Perhaps we should just organize a telling Plotnicki he's wrong rota. I'll take the 10 to 2 EST shift.

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brit, that's not fair. though on other threads plotz may have been...a bit overzealous, i think his efforts here - like mine - have been directed towards sorting out the problems in bundling taste, visual impressions, ambience etc. - and pointing out that, to the expert of a trade, it's second nature to analyze these things as single parts. and every trained craftsman knows this to be true.


christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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brit, that's not fair. though on other threads plotz may have been...a bit overzealous, i think his efforts here - like mine - have been directed towards sorting out the problems in bundling taste, visual impressions, ambience etc. - and pointing out that, to the expert of a trade, it's second nature to analyze these things as single parts. and every trained craftsman knows this to be true.

I'm not known for being fair. I think this thread is excellent, to discuss the interacting effects of taste, visuals, ambience, and associated influences is what this board is about, so no argument from me. It's the "taste is absolute" regardless of circumstances argument that I'm getting bored with.

No cigars

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Nobody said taste was absolute. What was said was that ingredients have specific tastes to them (i.e., chemical makeup) that are independant of people's ability to taste them. The second thing that was said was that in relation to the original post, the manipulation of a diners ability to taste things was limited to the context of dining, and as such, not material to our ability (I should say my ability, I can't speak for yours) to determine the quality of the ingredients present.

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Taste is not about the ability to notice things. It has nothing to do with understanding food or wine or being able to discuss it. That's at a different level. All along I've been discussing what happens when food or drink meets the olfactory system and taste buds. It seems absolutely obvious that not every person, on every occasion of tasting the same food, has exactly the same taste experience. If that's the case, it's simply false to say that elements extraneous to the actual food cannot effect how it tastes.

I have no idea why anyone would deny what I've just said. It seems elementary. But we can keep going until Britcook swallows his spatula, if necessary.

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Taste is not about the ability to notice things. It has nothing to do with understanding food or wine or being able to discuss it

Well you just keep changing the definition of the word taste from the objective to the subjective. The wine is from the Musigny vineyard is a statement about Musigny and not the person tasting the wine. That is a constant and can't be changed by human perception. Tasting is an objective analysis. The key part of the analysis is noticing what trace elements are present. It is tied to a standard based on the ingredients you are tasting. They are always constant.

One's ability to taste things is a different use of the word. And in that instance, I agree with you, different people taste things differently. But, and it's a truly large but, not differently enough so that the legitimacy of the concept of quality in ingredients, which I demonstrated above, is undermined.

In fact, if you go to a greenmmarket and there are heirloom tomatoes on offer and you pick one up and taste it, and I ask you how it is, I want an answer that is objective about it's qualities. I have little use for your personal take on it. Because experience shows me that singular opinions that are outside of the box on these things are likely daft. But a valuable opinion about the tomatoes is one that notices more qualities then the average person would notice. Tasting, as it applies to food, will always be about noticing what is there.

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Steve, but isn't the tomato's presentation of itself indicative of its qualities?

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Stuck in the mud. Steve, you taste things differently. I give you a glass of wine. Then I give you a mouthful of chocolate. Then I give you the same wine again. It tastes different. If taste was determined only by what was in the wine glass, it would always taste the same.

If you'll concede me that, then the only question is how many extraneous influences there might be and how successfully we can control for them. As to the original point of all this, concede that psychology or just mood can influence taste, and there seems to me then to be no reason presentation can't influence taste. I just want to slay this nonsense about taste being determined by the actual food and drink and nothing else.

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Macrosan,

Re: the chicken experiment. I'd think the two chicken dishes would taste different to the same taster. The first chicken, when the taster's mouth had not yet experienced either chicken, would be different from the second chicken, after the taster had a plate full of the first chicken.

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i think his efforts here - like mine - have been directed towards sorting out the problems in bundling taste, visual impressions, ambience etc. - and pointing out that, to the expert of a trade, it's second nature to analyze these things as single parts. and every trained craftsman knows this to be true.

I think not. I work with radiologists who are extraordinarily well trained in detecting small abnormalities in various scans. In some tests – ultrasound, mammography, chest x-rays – the changes can be so subtle that you and I would not recognize them even after they've been pointed out. I suspect that a radiologist's ability to detect these visual cues is every bit as acute as a wine expert's ability to detect the olfactory cues that identify a particular wine. And yet if I were designing a study to compare the sensitivity of two types of x-ray film, say, I would 'blind' the radiologist to the type of film he was reading. Otherwise his expectations (that the new film is superior, say) will bias the results. This is not a conscious attempt at 'cheating' on the part of the radiologist but simply the effect that expectations have on judgments. The necessity of blind trials is universally recognized in science.

So, no matter how skilled the taster, no matter how strenuously he attempts to separate appearance from flavour, I do not believe that he will entirely succeed. All the evidence that lizziee, indiagirl and I have presented suggests the opposite. All I see on the other side of the debate is wishful thinking.

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Stuck in the mud. Steve, you taste things differently. I give you a glass of wine. Then I give you a mouthful of chocolate. Then I give you the same wine again. It tastes different. If taste was determined only by what was in the wine glass, it would always taste the same.

For the fifty millionth time, I agree with this. But this example has nothing to do with the dining experience which as a practical matter means it is invalid. Dining is about enabling us to to taste it better. Not to hamper our ability to be able to do that in any way. When you go out to dinner, they don't serve you straight vinegar to numb your senses before giving you something with a delicate flavor to eat. In fact, they give you something to clean your palate with when that is at risk.

That is the reason we are stuck in the mud. All of the examples you raised have nothing to do with dining. They are science experiements. The only valid answers to Eric's original post, are examples of how presentation adds to [the dining experience. It has nothing to do with how we would taste things if we spent two weeks at the Nasa training center being sleep deprived.

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We are arguing about different things, Steve. I am arguing about the assertions made early in the thread that taste cannot be affected by anything other than the actual food and drink, and that therefore presentation cannot affect it. The premise there has nothing to do with dining, and there is no reason to confine it to those terms. And if the premise is false, which you agree it is, the conclusion does not follow. You (not you personally - whoever) need a different argument to support that conclusion.

Now, if you agree with me, perhaps we can move on. :cool:

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Has waiter presentation come into this one yet? A waiter serves the same dish to two people. When placing the dish before diner number one, he smiles warmly and proudly, and explains, "This is an extra course from the chef - his signature poached snipe in an ortolan/truffle coulis. With our compliments".

When placing the dish before diner number two, the waiter just puts the dish in front of the diner without explaining it, and walks off.

Would not the two diners perceive the dishes differently?

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Taste is not about the ability to notice things.  It has nothing to do with understanding food or wine or being able to discuss it.  That's at a different level.  All along I've been discussing what happens when food or drink meets the olfactory system and taste buds.  It seems absolutely obvious that not every person, on every occasion of tasting the same food, has exactly the same taste experience.  If that's the case, it's simply false to say that elements extraneous to the actual food cannot effect how it tastes.

I have no idea why anyone would deny what I've just said.  It seems elementary.  But we can keep going until Britcook swallows his spatula, if necessary.

I'm not going to deny that because I totally agree. Besides which my diet strictly forbids the ingestion of spatulas.

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We are arguing about different things, Steve. I am arguing about the assertions made early in the thread that taste cannot be affected by anything other than the actual food and drink, and that therefore presentation cannot affect it. The premise there has nothing to do with dining, and there is no reason to confine it to those terms. And if the premise is false, which you agree it is, the conclusion does not follow. You (not you personally - whoever) need a different argument to support that conclusion.

No Wilfrid you are wrong. This is a food board and all statements are made within the context of the dining experience. To misappropriate those statements into the context of a science experiment, or to test the exactness of the language in the context of linguistics, is where we always go wrong (well not me, but the scientists and the pedants :cool:.)

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No Wilfrid you are wrong. This is a food board and all statements are made within the context of the dining experience. To misappropriate those statements into the context of a science experiment, or to test the exactness of the language in the context of linguistics, is where we always go wrong (well not me, but the scientists and the pedants  :cool:.)

Actually, were the scientists go wrong is trying to base a judgement on facts, drawn from conclusions made from observation, when opinion and hand waving carries so much more weight. :cool:

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Yes, and their conclusions are oh so valuable, especially when they are based on examples of things that have about a million in one chance of happening in the context of the dining experience. But you know what, tonight when I am at Daniel, prior to my tasting the Petrus I am going to ask them for a glass of chocolate milk.


Edited by Steve Plotnicki (log)

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