Your life has been a lie since its inception, at least when it comes to truths about food. You probably have your tastes, some foods you don’t like and others you love, some because or thanks to their tastes, others for reasons of flavor, texture, acidity, bitterness and so on. It’s normal. Now if we told you that your brain can fall into many traps because of food, would you believe it? We are going to show you some examples of foods or concepts that will prove to you that in the end everything is not a matter of taste, quite the contrary.
1. Neurogastronomy, a new science of food and the brain
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Neurogastronomy brings together scientific researchers, cooks, sommeliers and neurologists to understand how our brain interprets a taste. With several studies the researchers discovered that there were a certain number of parameters which came into play when one ate something, and that by manipulating the brain one could completely restore taste to food to people or deceive their vigilance.
2. The appearance of the dish changes the taste
The simple vision of what you are going to eat can change the taste you will have of a food. In one experiment people ate meat and fries lit by very dim light, they were asked what they thought of the dish and they said they liked it. Then we turned the light back on and they realized the fries were green and the meat was blue, we had added food coloring to the dish. Several of them began to feel nauseous and most refused to continue eating, simply because of the vision which had so far not influenced their taste sensation.
3. Smell plays a key role
The taste sensation that you will have of a food is also manipulated by its smell, which makes you wonder how some people like sausage when it smells like shit. In a certain experiment scientists made people eat the same dish twice: for the first people said that it was too bland because it was not salty at all and on the second that it was better because it was just salty. The truth is that neither dish had any salt in it, the only difference between the two plates was that the second had been flavored with the smell of ham, which people’s brains associated with salt before falling into the panel.
4. Ghost Taste: The Truth About Skittles
Neurogastronomy takes these parameters into account and can then cause your brain to create what is called a “phantom taste”. There is nothing that differs in terms of flavor on food but between the smell and the visual your brain will interpret a very singular taste. Take them Skittles for example, if you always thought that there were different tastes between these sweets your brain fell into the trap because they taste absolutely the same. Two things differ: the color and the scent associated with each of these colors and that’s what really pissed you off.
5. Bitterness is better blocked by salt than by sugar
If you eat your grapefruit with a spoonful of sugar because you think the fruit is too bitter, you are making a small mistake. The sugar will cover the bitterness, but if you put a pinch of salt on it you’ll see that it will actually tone it down. Not only will the bitterness be less pronounced but the sweet taste of the fruit will be even stronger, all because as the salt will block the bitterness your brain will favor the reception of other tastes of the fruit, therefore the sweet taste. It also works with kiwis, apples and other fruits for that matter.
6. Mint makes you feel cold…
If you eat mint gum or even a small mint leaf, your mouth temperature will feel like it has dropped. In reality there is no temperature difference in it, but your brain thinks so. All that comes from menthol which affects the system of sensory sensors called somesthesia, it is the neural system which partly manages touch, pain and temperature and which is completely different from that which manages taste. But again you’re not cold, just feeling cold, which is enough when you’re hot and drinking a mojito.
7. … And the chilli a feeling of heat
Similar to the menthol in mint there is a compound in the pepper that causes the opposite effect in the body: capsaicin. This compound affects the same neural system as menthol, and the brain interprets it as thinking your body is on fire: your circulation quickens, your eyes get watery, and your skin begins to show signs of sensitive sweating to temper. such as sweating and perspiration. Another effect your brain also does at these times is to release natural “pain killers,” endorphins, which makes eating chili peppers legally kick your ass. But again, there’s no fire in your mouth and no one just put out their barbecue on your tongue, your brain thinks so, but it’s wrong.
8. Vinaigrette can ruin a good bottle of red wine.
Your brain doesn’t always interpret things well, sometimes it’s a little stupid, like when you eat your salad with a good vinaigrette and you find that wine you absolutely love absolutely disgusting. Basically your taste buds will get used to the acidity of the vinegar, so after eating it they will only be able to detect an even stronger acidity. Your glass of red wine which (normally is less acidic) is a fine balance between the sweet taste and the acid taste, so it will immediately seem only sweet and unpleasant to you. Not recommended, as long as your brain cannot make sense of things.
9. The artichoke that makes water sweet
An easy experiment to do the next time you eat artichokes: drink water. It’s stupid huh? Wait I’ll explain, basically we find in artichokes cynarin, a compound that will block the receptors of the tongue that manage the sweet taste. And it is simply by drinking a glass of water which will rinse the receptors and make them “restart” that we will have the impression that the water was sweet when no, it was water. .
10. Bonus (a bit off topic but still cool): until the food has mixed with your saliva you can’t taste it
Simply because your chemoreceptors can detect stimuli and send that information to the nervous system, such as a smell or a taste. In your mouth and especially on your tongue these receptors need a liquid to interpret tastes and saliva contains several enzymes that receive different tastes.
You can experiment: dry your tongue with toilet paper (clean the paper) and close your eyes. Tell someone you know to put a dry food like a sweet cookie on your tongue and try to guess what it is. (For it to work it is better not to see the food, because as we said above, vision accentuates the taste).