Quick Recipes and Easy

Cooking With Your Senses

Food appeals to all our senses. Earlier, we discussed how the eyes play a huge part in the way that food tastes. Probably the number one sound sensation is sizzle. What about the sense of smell? This is a huge factor in how people respond to your food. For instance, when you have guests for Thanksgiving, the minute that you open the door they are enveloped in the sense of roasting turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pies. They can’t wait for dinner. But some people have a highly developed sense of smell, they can tell if their food is even slightly off. There are times that even someone with a really terrible head cold can tell that the food is off. This is one reason that it is so vital that everything that you prepare is fresh. Meat, poultry and especially fish can have a really terrible odor. Make sure of your use-by-date.

Our fourth sense is touch. This is represented by the texture of food. Texture is more vital than most people realize. Care for a soft soggy cracker? How about a nice limp pickle? Some people like the flavor of banana bread, but won’t eat a plain banana, because of the soft texture. Texture can be defined by a number of characteristics, including viscosity, smoothness, softness, hardness, rigidity and elasticity. In addition to, and perhaps even beyond, a product’s texture, is the mouth feel, measured in terms of dryness, lubricity, smoothness, sandiness or fluffiness.

Most people reckon taste is the most vital sense when it comes to food. But before most people have even tasted your food, they have made up their minds about how they are going to like it.

There are five primary taste sensations.

Salty

Sour

Sweet

Bitter

Umami

Umami is the only one that you may not be familiar with. Umami is a Japanese word for savory or meaty. It describes the flavor of meat, cheese and mushrooms. High levels of glutamic acid can even trigger cravings. Why can’t you eat just one potato chip? It’s not the salt. It’s really the umami in the potato that makes them addictive. When the potato slices are fried, they lose eater content, which concentrates the glutamic acid in each mouthful.

How do you know you’re tasting it?


Foods high in protein are best for sensing umami. For example, parmesan cheese is high in protein and aged, which means the moisture escapes and the glutamate concentrates. Umami is part of the Japanese culture.

The flavour also comes in vegetarian form. It’s the “meaty” taste especially present in juicy beefsteak tomatoes (the riper the better), sugar snap peas, grapefruit, tofu and shiitake mushrooms. Piles of umami toppings on pizza — tomatoes, pepperoni, mozzarella and mushrooms — could very well be responsible for why people, and especially kids, like it.

Carolyn Flesch

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