Monday, 24 March 2014

gustatory hallucinogen

It seems rather strange that the sense of taste is a myth-bearer, and once disabused of these traditional beliefs, the contrary is still widely held, and usually as only an enhancement to the palette.

Consider this keen little primer on the distinct taste of umani—otherwise savouriness that went dismissed for a century after its isolation, an infusion by a European chef and a Japanese chemist of a new understanding of cuisine, as some imaginary and unwelcome addition to the accepted panoply of flavours, sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Asian dishes often carry notes of this taste, as do many preserved and processed foods (which surely adds to their appeal and possibly accounts for the delayed recognition) but is also present in pungent cheeses, tomatoes and mushrooms. The tongue itself was subject to misunderstanding, the terrior of tastes popularised and stuck by a poorly translated anatomic treatise by German doctor D. P. Henig, who in 1901 first described the taste-buds, papillae, which can each detect the spectrum of flavours, regardless of location. I just found it odd that umani has sort of crept in as something as created or added and not something revealed, and it seems like people are quicker to accept concepts like self-styled (mostly) super-smellers and super-tasters or synesthesia, where perceptions are automatically assigned with other cognitive macros, giving colours to the days of the week. What do you think? Are such nuances real and made digestible by giving them a scientific reality?