The rythm of taste
Taste is a trend – and robots are also a trend. But did you know Robots are able to distinguish between a sample of wine, - with a sensor developed at Aarhus University- better than a trained sensory panel?
How is this possible?
Taste is the answer. In this post you will discover what is taste, how do we recognize it and how we can use it in your products.
Taste is regarded as the most mysterious and less studied of our senses. Humans, and now robots, are able to identify the chemical compounds in food as sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami.
How do we do that?
When we eat food, the chewing process release both volatile and non-volatile compounds. Which will be recognized by receptors in both tongue and the nasal cavity, as this compounds ascend from our mouth to the nose. The combination of chemicals will allow us to recognize a large number of ingredients.
This flavours depend on different classes of chemical compounds- for example bitter foods will have a higher quantity of alkaloids that our brain translates as a bitter flavour (somehow an alert of danger during evolution).
But what we can - and robots can’t, is to determine what combinations taste better to the human palate.
When a food is chewed, the robot will use their sensors to adjudicate each chemical component to one category of flavour and will use a rational approach to evaluate the final taste. But our brain will process
all the signals in a special way … that surprisingly we don’t know , combining it with memories and other attributes .
We create a subjective opinion from an objective matter.
This means from for example a salty flavour, we say we like or – we don’t. Can we control this process? Maybe
We know we can perceive flavours, sweet and sour. But why do we like it so much together? Does our brain process one before the other? What about fat, or calories, can we taste them? Or even better can trick our brain to do so?
Taste is the key characteristic for developing new foods. Soy bars can be healthy, but selling them requires a good taste (someone listening?). And the food pairing techniques can help to combine them with other foods increasing acceptability for the users.
This feature depends of the called food pairing technique, where combinations of flavours from different foods are put together and analysed with sensory techniques looking for matches. This process was recently showcased in MadridFusion 2015 where chefs shared their knowledge about the greatest combinations for the mouth.
Now you know taste and robots are related, but what about rhythm?
Taste is music. When you listen to a song, several instruments are used together creating a melody. You don’t focus on the instruments as individual attributes, but on the rhythm they form together. When you eat a food, the process is the same, the individual components in each food will combine together, and depending on the pairing made, the end result will be totally different creating a new whole range of possibilities for food developers and chefs. Who would think that orange filled chocolate would taste so good!
The theory behind food pairing shows that the higher the number of compounds in common between two foods, the easier it will be to combine each other. For example an apple have more than 400 different taste and smell compounds, a pineapple has around 290. Apple and pineapple share more than 100 of this components. Can we make a good tasting smoothie with them together? Food pairing says yes (I say yes too).
Now is your turn to create amazing melodies using the science of taste.
By Javier Gines Galera
June 1st, 2015