Food and Your Senses • In order to judge the quality of food or decide if you will eat something, you will use your senses. All five of your senses are involved in these decisions (touch, taste, smell, sight and sound) • Flavour is the interaction of taste, smell, texture, mouthfeel, sights and sounds of foods. Each food has its own unique combination of these characteristics and these help you to distinguish foods from each other.
1) Appearance (sight) • Helps you judge quality, ripeness and spoilage • You tend to avoid foods with dark spots, bruises, mold or colours that you don’t expect
Appearance cont’d • Visual appeal also affects food choices. Foods put together on a plate that are all the same colour will be less appealing than one with varied colours. Size and shape should also be varied. Garnishes can also be added to increase visual appeal. • Examples of garnishes: parsley, spices, mint sprigs, carrots, lemon wedges, radishes, lettuce, edible flowers, cinnamon, paprika, cherries, limes
2/3) Taste and odour (smell) • These two senses work very closely together. If one is not working well it affects the other. If a person is tasteblind they can’t distinguish tastes very well. Taste buds are less sensitive as you get older, or when you have a cold. Certain medications and illnesses can also cause you to be tasteblind. Smoking and drinking a lot of coffee can also affect your sense of taste.
Taste/odour cont’d • There are four main types of tastes which are sweet, salty, sour and bitter. There is also a fifth taste called umami which is described as “savory”. This type of taste is associated with MSG, which is a salt that interacts with other ingredients to enhance salty and sour tastes. It may be added to food, but it occurs naturally in others, such as mushrooms.
Taste/odour cont’d • Olfactory System- airborne particles dissolve on the surface of the inside of your nose. They are picked up by sensory neurons which send a message to your brain. Your nose is capable of detecting a wide number of smells even at low concentrations. The human nose is better than lab equipment designed to detect smells.
tAste/odour cont’d • Temperature will affect smell and taste. Warmer foods have more smell than cooler ones (more particles can be freed- more volatile). Sweet foods taste sweeter when they are warm but salty foods taste saltier when cooled.
4) Texture (touch) • The texture can indicate the quality of a food (grainy, chewy, gritty, slimy, etc). Texture can be altered by temperature (steak, ice cream, cheese) • Mouthfeel- how a food feels in your mouth (peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth, quality ice cream is smooth)
5) Sound • You have certain expectations of sounds you should or shouldn’t hear when eating certain foods • Example: crunchy chips- good crunchy pudding- not so good