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3 Most Important Elements of a Plate...


emhahn
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Here, I'll help.

The secretion of saliva is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, parasympathetic stimulation produces a large volume of liquid low protein saliva. Stimulation of the sympathetic system produces a small amount of viscous saliva. The sight of, or the thought of, appetizing food switches on the autonomic stimulation and you start to salivate in anticipation.
While some researchers continue to focus their attention on the density of or the decline of taste buds as a possible cause for the loss in taste ability, one focused his studies on the tongue's ability to produce adequate amounts of saliva in the mouth (e. g. Spence, 1989). Spence mentioned that a reduction in saliva could interfere with a dissolving food's reaction with receptor cells on the tongue. This information, in turn, could explain why some foods taste dry to some elderly individuals.
It soon became clear that saliva played a major role in control of taste function. This realization led to performance of the first systematic studies identifying the major proteins in human parotid saliva and identified gustin, a zinc metalloprotein, as a taste bud growth factor. This work has continued through the present time, performed with the assistance of Dr. Brian Martin of the NIH, with identification and sequencing of gustin as the enzyme carbonic anhydrase (CA) VI They identified CAVI as a growth factor in maturation and development of taste buds through its action on stem cells in the taste bud by a mechanism similar manner of the effects of nerve growth factor (NGF) on sympathetic ganglion cells.
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really nice started a new topic about developing a menu, but I think it deserves a repeat here:

I started observing Cabrales post--3 Most Important Elements of a Plate... until the second page when a food fight broke out. I agree with Cabrales initial post and my 2 cent contribution is for all to read The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Here you will learn how we first feast with our eyes; then with our stomachs. He is also the gentleman who wrote, "Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you what you are." This should sound familiar to Iron Chef fans. The book is a great read and Brillat-Savarin is well-respected among the Carême and Escoffier crowds.

Anyway, I think my post is related as I'd like to know how you go about progressing a menu. How you develop the menu is just as important as presenting the plate. I've done some pretty impressive stuff in the past, see my posts titled, Last Night's Dinner to get an idea. Typically, I've made six- and seven-course dinners with wines such as Penfolds Grange and Petrus.

I'd like to know how you develop your menus.

I know the basics such as:

Wine:

white to red

dry (white and red) to sweet (white)

excption: sauternes with foie gras as a second course

Food styles:

Light before dark

Cold before hot

Raw before cooked

Soft before chewy

Creamy before crispy/crunchy

Light before heavy

Mild before spicy

Savory before sweet

Soup styles:

Clear before creamy

creamy before thick

Food entrees:

Vegetable before protein (fish, shellfish, poultry, fowl, pork, beef/lamb)

Fish before shellfish

Shellfish before poultry

Poultry before fowl

Fowl before pork

Pork before beef/lamb

All the above before dessert

Tasting Threshold:

Salty before sour

Sour before savory

Savory before sweet

Basic (French) Menu Composition:

Three courses: Cold app or soup, Main course, Dessert

Four course: Cold app or soup, Hot app (fish/shellfish), Main course, Dessert

Five course: Cold app, Soup, Hot app (always fish/shellfish), Main course, Dessert

Six course: Cold app, Soup, Hot app (fish/shellfish), Main course, Salad, Dessert

Seven course: Cold app, Soup, Hot app (fish/shellfish), Intermezzo (sorbet), Main course, Salad, Dessert

I did a search on "Menu" on eGullet.com and came up with nothing that applied.

So, any productive assistance out there? What do you do with your 'gourmet' dinners?

-lav

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I think you guys are all wrong here and Fat Guy has it dead on. The issue isn't whether presentation does make a difference in how something tastes, the issue is whether it should. And to any of you who claim that taste is influenced by the visuals, you need to do a better job of divorcing those two concepts. Yes presentation might make it more enjoyable to eat, yes more attractive and yes more appealing, but not taste better. It is physically impossible

Regarding visuals not affecting the taste of the food...

How does the visual of a dirty restaurant with smudgy silverwear, condiments with dried caked on whatever dribbled down the side, and perhaps a server bringing your food to you with grimy hands and an open wound affect the taste of your meal? Maybe there is even a dead fly or 2 on your plate. I say there would be a strong psychological component that would physically affect how that meal would taste to you (providing you didn't lose your appetite all together). Do you disagree?

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Chefs try to make food attractive because they want their work to look good, not because they think it will taste better that way. If I owned a restaurant and the chef came to me and said, "We need to buy plates so the food will taste better," I'd find a new chef.

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)

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Chefs try to make food attractive because they want their work to look good, not because they think it will taste better that way. If I owned a restaurant and the chef came to me and said, "We need to buy plates so the food will taste better," I'd find a new chef.

Fat Guy,

That's not the point. Ducasse, Keller, Daniel, Gagnaire, JG, Gras, Troigros would not serve their food on anything but what would best present their food. If you want to tell them to take a hike because the plates cost too much, OK.

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Chefs try to make food attractive because they want their work to look good, not because they think it will taste better that way. If I owned a restaurant and the chef came to me and said, "We need to buy plates so the food will taste better," I'd find a new chef.

Not that they're right, but it's often chefs who say things like -- You eat with your eyes.

I imagine that there are many chefs who believe presentation will make their food taste better.

Clearly presentation in terms of arrangement of food on the plate, and table settings etc. can't alter the taste of the food, but there's no doubt that it can influence the taster.

I think it's naive to suggest that chefs only present food according to their desire for it to look good. It seems much more connected with diners' expectations and price. Complex plating routines complicate service and are labour intensive; as I've already said, elaborate presentation is a hallmark of expensive dining. Part of the expense (a significant part) is incurred by the extra labour necessary to produce and plate stuff that doesn't necessarily taste different or better. There are many, even too many, restaurants that are expensive for this reason alone.

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I was involved with a restaurant where the food was great, but the presentation plain.

We sold it and the sucessors served average food but great presentation - two colour sauces squiggled together on the plate, caramel hats, synchronised cloche lifting, the lot. Attendance (and revenue) doubled.

Talking to the chef he pointed out that most people did not have trained palates, but wanted food which they could not prepare easily at home.. Thus they select visually. Squiggling two sauces on a plate is easy for a restaurant (thanks to squeeze bottles) but a fuss for home cooking

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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Clearly presentation in terms of arrangement of food on the plate, and table settings etc. can't alter the taste of the food, but there's no doubt that it can influence the taster.

Clearly. No doubt. I agree.

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)

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Here, I'll help.
The secretion of saliva is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, parasympathetic stimulation produces a large volume of liquid low protein saliva. Stimulation of the sympathetic system produces a small amount of viscous saliva. The sight of, or the thought of, appetizing food switches on the autonomic stimulation and you start to salivate in anticipation.
While some researchers continue to focus their attention on the density of or the decline of taste buds as a possible cause for the loss in taste ability, one focused his studies on the tongue's ability to produce adequate amounts of saliva in the mouth (e. g. Spence, 1989). Spence mentioned that a reduction in saliva could interfere with a dissolving food's reaction with receptor cells on the tongue. This information, in turn, could explain why some foods taste dry to some elderly individuals.
It soon became clear that saliva played a major role in control of taste function. This realization led to performance of the first systematic studies identifying the major proteins in human parotid saliva and identified gustin, a zinc metalloprotein, as a taste bud growth factor. This work has continued through the present time, performed with the assistance of Dr. Brian Martin of the NIH, with identification and sequencing of gustin as the enzyme carbonic anhydrase (CA) VI They identified CAVI as a growth factor in maturation and development of taste buds through its action on stem cells in the taste bud by a mechanism similar manner of the effects of nerve growth factor (NGF) on sympathetic ganglion cells.

right and wrong: right for the masses, wrong for the elite.

the elite, particularly the professionals, of any trade are taught methods of focusing on the objective facts before them. this may of course never be 100% perfect, but it's a lot better than what those outside the trade can do. which is why it's always a treat to hear the elite of a trade discuss things you happen to be interested in: there's so much to learn.

and reversely: if they can't "deconstruct" they're not part of the elite.

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

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Interesting how the discussion has focused around presentation and, for the most part, ignored the third element in the original post-temperature. Is this because people consider it to be relatively unimportant?

A food definitely tastes different at different temperatures.One of the problems I find with elaborately presented pre plated food is that in "building the dish" the food is cooling down rapidly. As a result, by the time it reaches the diner a lot of haute cuisine food is served lukewarm, or at a kind of "room" temperature. I accept that with some dishes and foods this is the "correct" temperature, but I'm convinced that with others it is not and that the restaurant is sacrificing temerature, and therfore taste, on the altar of presentation.

I find the obsession with presentation at rerstaurants below the very highest levels to be bordering on the ludicrous. I'm not saying they should just slop it on the plate, but food can be presented perfectly acceptably AND at the right temperature if there wasn't so much fiddling and faffing about with how it looks. They MUST think that it makes people think it tastes better or else why else would they do it?

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The temperature issue is an interesting one but again it demands a certain amount of knowledge on the part of the diner

I just received a mail from a friend who tried a Bengali fish dish at Mela and sent it back because it was at room temp. The waiter was happy to exchange it but explained that, as with most Bengali dishes, it is best served at that temerature as Bengali's consider that an aid to both flavour and digestion. The other dishes were all hot, so she sent it back anyway and it was represented ( in fact re-made ) at the requested temp.

The point is she was just wrong, so the taste she experienced were in this case not authentic

I hate food that should be hot being brought out tepid, but there needs to be a balance between what the chef knows to to be correct and what the diner wants

S

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Steve,

What I don't understand is why you discount the fact that presentation is so important to most chefs?

What distinquishes one chef from another, at the level we are talking about, is the art of cuisine. It is more than the ingredients. It is the fact of that visual and sensual appeal that excites us and pushes us past that just palate feel.

edit: spelling

Liz - You changed the subject on me again. You are saying that there is a psychological component to dining that makes food seem to taste better when it is presented well, and that chefs are taught to present it in a way that maximizes this aspect of cuisine.

I agree.

But in actuality, no matter how they present it, it really tastes the same. You just think it tastes different. Taste, meaning the ability to put something in your mouth and analyze the quality is not physically dependant on sight. You can do it with your eyes closed. If that wasn't the case, that would be tantamount to saying that people who are sight impaired can't taste food as well as people who can see.

Tony - You are talking to, who I am sure is among the few people who consistantly sends food back in restaurants due to it being served at room temperature. Even at the best places. Yet I think the cause usually isn't elaborate plating. It seems to be more a result of the different dishes at a table done at different times, or waitstaff leaving your food sitting on the counter before serving it.

I think it's naive to suggest that chefs only present food according to their desire for it to look good. It seems much more connected with diners' expectations and price. Complex plating routines complicate service and are labour intensive; as I've already said, elaborate presentation is a hallmark of expensive dining. Part of the expense (a significant part) is incurred by the extra labour necessary to produce and plate stuff that doesn't necessarily taste different or better. There are many, even too many, restaurants that are expensive for this reason alone.

LML - There is a reason actors in plays wear costumes and they don't ask the audience to imagine them dressed a certain way. And like elaborate plating, there is a lot of cost attached to designing, making and maintaining the wardrobe. But if you went to see Phantom and Michael Crawford wasn't in costume, with his face made up that way, would he sing any differently or act differently? Of course not. But the audience would percieve it differently because good costumes are inextricably linked to a performance.

Presentation in dining is value added that is inextricably linked, and indispensable, in this same way. When you go to Arpege and have their famous Tomato Gaspacho Soup with the Mustard Ice Cream, they serve you a bowl of soup and then Laurent comes over with that little table and the silver ice cream container, and he rolls a big scoop of mustard ice cream on a large spoon, and then he has a very specific way of getting it into the bowl perfectly, the whole thing seems to appear to be happening in slow motion. That presentation makes for a more enjoyable dining experience. It doesn't make it taste any better. If they brought the soup to the table with a scoop of ice cream bobbing around in it it would taste the same. But it wouldn't be as enjoyable an experience.

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Indiagirl

All that scientific research is mildly interesting, but I repeat simply not relevant to the issue at hand. It's like saying that partially deaf people hear things differently from people with "perfect" hearing. We know that. We don't need scientists to prove it to us. So it's self-evident that Beethoven's 9th will sound different to a person with faulty hearing. But to go on from there and say that Beethoven's 9th sounds different if the choir is dressed in black rather than jeans is daft.

People with "faulty" tasting mechanisms will obviously taste food differently from others. But let's take one of your faulty salivators as an example. We give that person a simply presented dish of foie gras, and she tastes it. Now we give that same person the same foie gras, but on a $50 plate decorated with yellow chicks, and a sprig of parsley, and a piece of a bonsai tree lying at the side, and a drizzle of coulis round the outside, and whatever else you want to do to present the dish. Now does the foie gras TASTE any different to that person? Well only if the person is easily influenced :laugh:

As far as appearance initiating a salivatory response, well again that's self-evident. In fact, it doesn't even need appearance to do that. If you just say "lemon" to some people, they will start to salivate :raz: But either that's a constant (in other words it always works the same way for an individual) in which case the "presenter" of the food would need to know how an individual responded to visual stimuli before deciding how to present a dish to that person, or else it's a random response, in which case the presenter could not predict how best to present the dish to that person :wacko:

So the whole issue of salivation is just another of those general variables in how people taste. It's like the air-conditioning system, a person's mood, what metal the cutlery is made from, whether you have a cold ..... If you're going to postulate a relationship between presentation and taste, you first have to remove all those variables.

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All that scientific research is mildly interesting, but I repeat simply not relevant to the issue at hand. It's like saying that partially deaf people hear things differently from people with "perfect" hearing. We know that. We don't need scientists to prove it to us. So it's self-evident that Beethoven's 9th will sound different to a person with faulty hearing. But to go on from there and say that Beethoven's 9th sounds different if the choir is dressed in black rather than jeans is daft.

Macrosan, I think the scientific research is relevant - what I read over the last few pages before I ventured to post was a volley - the molecules don't change, so what, the molecules don't change, but taste does. My point with what shall henceforth be called the Spit Sequence was - actually, even the molecules change. It is relevant.

Also, I don't think it's like saying deaf people hear things differently. It's quite different actually. Also, while your Beethoven example may be self evident, drawing the taste conclusion based on it is not. Here's why: If everytime you saw blue jeans, your ear drums became a little thicker, and you processed sound differently, your music analogy would work.

People with "faulty" tasting mechanisms will obviously taste food differently from others. But let's take one of your faulty salivators as an example. We give that person a simply presented dish of foie gras, and she tastes it. Now we give that same person the same foie gras, but on a $50 plate decorated with yellow chicks, and a sprig of parsley, and a piece of a bonsai tree lying at the side, and a drizzle of coulis round the outside, and whatever else you want to do to present the dish. Now does the foie gras TASTE any different to that person? Well only if the person is easily influenced laugh.gif

I think if you used a yellow chick egg cup instead of plate it would. :)

Seriously? Yes, I think it could. It would not work for me, it may not work for you, but if it did work for someone and it made their mouth water than it would taste better to them, no?

The only reason I brought up the people with faulty taste mechanisms was because most of the research in how saliva stimulation retards taste mechanisms is done on senior citizens with deficiencies. No other relevance.

As far as appearance initiating a salivatory response, well again that's self-evident. In fact, it doesn't even need appearance to do that. If you just say "lemon" to some people, they will start to salivate tongue.gif  But either that's a constant (in other words it always works the same way for an individual) in which case the "presenter" of the food would need to know how an individual responded to visual stimuli before deciding how to present a dish to that person, or else it's a random response, in which case the presenter could not predict how best to present the dish to that person wacko.gif

I agree with you here, on every point. If you could say "lemon" to a person and it made them salivate and it improved the taste of whatever they next put in their mouth, would you not say that judicious use of the word "lemon" could enhance their dining experience? :)

In response to the latter part of your paragraph - yes, it's a random response but also, there are also certain things that trigger common responses. That's what restaurants and food ads are trying to tap into.

Further, whether the presentation technique will work for every diner is not guaranteed but that it is not in discussion here - what's in discussion here is will it affect the taste? And I think your saying this:

Yes, it can affect the taste but there is no guarantee that it will.

I agree.

So the whole issue of salivation is just another of those general variables in how people taste. It's like the air-conditioning system, a person's mood, what metal the cutlery is made from, whether you have a cold ..... If you're going to postulate a relationship between presentation and taste, you first have to remove all those variables.

It appears to me that what we are discussing on this thread was whether or not appearance was a variable. I think we all agreed, yes.

Then we talked about whether it was a *real* variable or whether it was something only the stupid, peer pressured mass of humanity bought into.

My response to that was to attempt to demonstrate that the fact that how one tastes something has been biologically proven to be affected by saliva, which in turn is affected by multiple sensory stimuli. i.e. in a rare defense of the teeming masses on eGullet I wanted to prove that everybody is affected by how food looks and smells.

I think Cabrales summed it all up beautifully in her first couple of posts. My position is no different, if less eloquent:

Forget extremes: crap served to look gorgeous. They prove nothing. Nobody is discussing that.

I'm sticking with what I said: Presentation can make good food taste better and bad food taste worse. FG's immediate translation of that into "presentation can make bad food taste good" is not a valid inference. My first post showed a series of equations, I'm still wondering about those.

Objectivity in tasting to me is this - I'm in a restaurant. A dish is being bought out. Placed on the table, the smell and presentation make my mouth water or stimulate me intellectually and make me more aware or concentrate on the dish more. I objectively make a note of that, give the restaurant points/kudos whatever for trying to tip the scales and then eat.

Objectivity is not becoming an automaton, it is understanding the inevitable psychological and physiological influences that are in play and filtering them through reason, if needed.

I will not succumb to the image being parlayed in some of the posts here - of being some mindless blob in a restaurant where if they served every meal with my grandma's photo on top, I would think it tasted wonderful. But neither will I be an automaton in a restaurant where if they served every meal so that it was designed to stimulate all my senses, I would not recognize it's impact on the taste of the food.

Sigh. I think I need to change my sig file to:

Long posts remain unread.

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I'm sticking with what I said: Presentation can make good food taste better and bad food taste worse.

India Girl - This is a false statement. Presentation cannot make food taste better. What it can do is improve the dining experience, and that can influence how you react to the food. But it can't make it taste any better. It can just make you like it more.

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Clearly presentation in terms of arrangement of food on the plate, and table settings etc. can't alter the taste of the food, but there's no doubt that it can influence the taster.

Clearly. No doubt. I agree.

After being away from this thread for a little over 24 hours, I find it amusing (if not, I would find it depressing) that it has gone right back into the old litany of "subjective/objective" and even that perennial favourite, "is the chef or the diner right about how the dish should be cooked?"

I was trying to make a very simple point. We have almost no access to taste as physical phenomenon, only to taste as reported perception.

In the Muller-Lyer illusion (the two lines with reversed arrowheads on the ends), most viewers unfamiliar with the illusion will report one line as longer than the other -- this is well established experimentally.

We can establish that the lines are actually identical in length by measuring them.

Please tell me how we can do something similar as far as taste perception is concerned.

We can measure visual acuity: whether you are nearsighted, farsighted, astigmatic, colourblind, etc. This is done either by getting people to look at specific patterns and report what they see, or more frequently by actually measuring the physiological characteristics of the eye.

As I skimmed this thread, I saw a lot of the usual talk about "good tasters", "bad tasters" and such. Please tell me how (other than by asking Plotnicki) we can distinguish a good taster from a bad taster.

I personally don't believe that a dish tastes different in a blue egg cup than a white one, with or without chicks painted on it. And to me it seems a matter of common sense that the colour of an egg cup wouldn't influence the taste of a dish.

But all we have access to as far as taste is what people report. And hence, something that influences the taster could influence his or her perception.

---

Edit: On re-reading the thread I see Wilfrid said something reasonably similar to this, earlier on. The extreme cases he describes seem nonsensical to me.

I am still curious how people would suggest we draw the distinction between expert and less expert tasters. I think there is a distinction, but it is challenging to get agreement about how it plays out in specific cases.

Edited by Jonathan Day (log)

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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We have almost no access to taste as physical phenomenon, only to taste as reported perception.

Completely agreed.

We can establish that the lines are actually identical in length by measuring them.

Please tell me how we can do something similar as far as taste perception is concerned

You have to find reliable tasters to listen to and;

1. You have to surbordinate your opinion to theirs if a preponderance of evidence disagrees with you or;

2. You have to have a clear, concise and articulate argument of why the preponderance of people are wrong

The problem is, the best this gets us are valid opinions and invalid opinions. But I believe, and I was trying to make this point earlier, that if we were willing to reject false statements on their face, we could take the conversation further. Look at how much time has been spent here parsing the taste of food from the experience of eating it. It would seem to be that on it's face, nothing about what mood you are in makes food physically different. You might react differently because of externalities, but I submit that it is physically impossible for my physical condition to change anything about the food. Yet, we can't get people to agree to that concept.

Edited by Steve Plotnicki (log)
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I submit that it is physically impossible for my physical condition to change anything about the food. Yet, we can't get people to agree to that concept.

That seems perfectly reasonable. I for one agree with that. The condition of the taster doesn't change the molecules on the plate. Who would disagree?

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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I submit that it is physically impossible for my physical condition to change anything about the food. Yet, we can't get people to agree to that concept.

That seems perfectly reasonable. I for one agree with that. The condition of the taster doesn't change the molecules on the plate. Who would disagree?

While the molecules on the plate don't change, the sensors on the tongue do and surely taste is an interaction of the two and a reaction of one to another

S

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That seems perfectly reasonable. I for one agree with that. The condition of the taster doesn't change the molecules on the plate. Who would disagree?

Well nobody disagrees with this (I don't think?) But that still doesn't stop people from trying to reformat the question to be about the dining experience, which means their input is necessary because it is a critical evaluation of performance, from the way things taste, which is an analytical assessment of the trace substances present.

For me, the latter is fundamental to be able to do the former well. And I think that however we identify those good tasters you asked about two posts ago, that is the technical definition. The goal, for any taster, is to be able to taste what is actually there. That is the only useful information as far as I am concerned. And it isn't until we pass that threshold that we can reformulate the question into part of the overall dining experience.

edited in after

Simon's response is a good case in point of how diners try and grab this issue. Nothing about anyone's tongue sensors change the special qualities of Devon cream, even though it might taste different to a range of people. In reality what he has said is that an impairment in tasting should be given the same consideration as someone who is a good taster. I'm not buying that.

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Simon's response is a good case in point of how diners try and grab this issue. Nothing about anyone's tongue sensors change the special qualities of Devon cream, even though it might taste different to a range of people. In reality what he has said is that an impairment in tasting should be given the same consideration as someone who is a good taster. I'm not buying that.

I said no such thing

Difference doesn't have to imply inferiority. It can, but it doesn't have to

What are the special qualities of clotted cream, steve? That would be a starting point. What do you taste when you have it and I don't care if it from a bucket or a silver spoon

S

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While the molecules on the plate don't change, the sensors on the tongue do and surely taste is an interaction of the two and a reaction of one to another

Sorry Simon you misunderstood the point I was trying to make. I was trying to point out that this condition you described does not matter. Devon cream is what it is whether people can or can't taste it. Those who can't taste it, or need it served on a silver spoon to make it taste good, have less valid opinions then people who can taste it blind and in the process of analyzing it, recite all the various trace substances (something I can't do by the way) which are present. But for some reason, people are loathe to admit that yes indeed there is someone out there can do this. And not only is there, in fact, he can tell you which patch of land the cows graze on just by tasting the cream.

I am trying to point out that the way this is almost always refuted is that someone says, well the important thing is how it tastes to me. And to me your statement about the tongue sensors is a variation of that theme.

But I'll be happy for you to correct me.

But it can't be both things. Either things have a specific taste, or they are fungible and are manipulated by the diner. In fact, it can't even be a combination of both.

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we'd be very rash to conclude that appearance has no affect on our perception of flavour, no matter how experienced we are

By using the phrase "perception of flavour" are you agreeing that perception of flavour and actual flavour are two distinct concepts? Or do you think flavour is meaningless without perception as an integral part of the definition?

The latter. Just trying to be unambiguous since you forensic types get so picky.

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That seems perfectly reasonable. I for one agree with that. The condition of the taster doesn't change the molecules on the plate. Who would disagree?

Well nobody disagrees with this (I don't think?).

I do because it turns out to be wrong.

Saliva contains the enzyme alpha-amylase which breaks down starches to maltoses. This process begins in the mouth and will be more rapid in someone who is salivating freely. Since salivation is stimulated by sight, appearance can affect the molecular composition of the food, if not on the plate, then as soon as it touches the tongue.

See, Pedersen et al. Saliva and gastrointestinal functions of taste, mastication, swallowing and digestion, Oral Diseases 8, 117 (2002).

This process is, of course, entirely independent of the expertise of the taster.

OK. That’s that settled.

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