“We all think of taste as something that’s centred in the mouth,” Youssef says. “It’s almost like ventriloquism in that, because we’re chewing and crunching and everything is going on in the mouth, we presume that’s where flavour is produced.” In fact, 90 per cent of what we perceive as flavour is actually connected to our sense of smell, we’re told. We test this out in the study, by “tasting” a jellybean while wearing pegs on our noses. I can taste sugar, a certain sweetness, but little else. In the next experiment, I am pleased to discover that I am a “supertaster”, as I can distinguish certain flavours. It may go some way to explaining why I was a picky eater as a young child, I am surprised to learn.
Then there are other factors, physiological, psychological, emotional and even cultural, that affect how we experience food. For you, no apple crumble may match your grandmother’s recipe, or you may never be able to replicate that tomato salad you ate at sunset in Capri. “We all live in our own unique, personalised flavour and taste worlds,” says Youssef. “This is based on everything from our age, our cravings, our sense of smell, even pH levels of your saliva will affect how you taste food physically, and then mentally there are all the rich cultural associations that we have.”…..