How Do We Taste?

 

Ahhh food, don’t you just love it? Chocolate gateau, cheesy pizza, fresh tomatoes with a bit of balsamic vinegar and basil…mmm yum! We eat every day to live healthy lives, but nowadays it’s not just about survival, it’s about enjoyment.  It seems new restaurants pop up all the time providing the next weird and wonderful experience… Nettle sorbet? Breast milk ice cream…Cockroach soup anyone?!

So, what is it about your mouth that lets you enjoy and detest different flavour creations?  Have you ever pondered about it whilst devouring that homemade slice of cake?

Your Tongue

The first key player is your tongue; it’s literally a food genius. Not only does it let you taste flavour, they tell us how hot or cold something is and even its texture.

So how does your tongue let you taste?  The answer…Taste buds

Your tongue is COVERED in thousands of taste buds that are each made up of a collection of taste cells. That’s up to 10,000 cells!! These cells are sensitive to food and drink particles, so when you eat, they basically switch on and send a signal to your brain. Neet eh?  If you’re keen on delving a bit deeper into taste buds then you can check out a video I made below, otherwise carry on to the next major player…

 

Smell

Hidden right up your nose are cells that are sensitive to food particles. They’re rather like taste buds, but just in a different place…a snottier place! When particles enter your nose, they stimulate the cells and send a signal to the brain allowing you to smell.

But do you need both your smell and tongue to taste properly? Short answer, yes.

The cells on your tongue and in your nose create a rather bland flavour by themselves. Ever been ill and struggled to taste some hearty soup? You can blame your blocked nose for that! Because the food particles can’t travel up your nose, then the special cells aren’t stimulated and your brain doesn’t receive a signal.

But when you combine smell and taste buds together, that’s when taste EXPLOSIONS happen!  You can actually test this out by doing a taste test following this very simple method…

  1. Find some food (fruit works well for this)
  2. Ask your friend to close their eyes (or you can blindfold them).
  3. Also ask your friend to pinch their nose.
  4. Then give them the food to taste…can they guess what it is?
  5. Ask them to try it again without their nose pinched and see if it makes a difference!

My friend and I had a load of fun doing this one afternoon. You can check out the video below, which also gives a bit more detail on how taste and smell work together!

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