Is It Finally Time to Accept Fat as the Sixth Taste?

There are five acknowledged tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and (slightly more controversially) umami. For awhile now, researchers have suggested the existence of a sixth taste: fat. Now, a new study has researchers saying they may have finally isolated it—and they’ve given it a name: oleogustus.

Source: Is It Finally Time to Accept Fat as the Sixth Taste?

Fat seems like a broad term to me. Pig fat (lard) has a vastly different taste than butter (milk fat), and both are different than olive oil (plant fat). All have very distinct tastes. Does oleogustus encompass all of those? Do all fats have that exact thing in them?

Know How to Maximize Food’s Flavor with the Flavor Star

Understanding how to combine and balance flavors is an incredibly important cooking concept, and it’s especially evident in Asian food. I think this is why just about everyone enjoys Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, or Japanese cooking (they’re definitely the most popular meals in our meal plan archives).

Every dish is so dynamic in flavor. A Thai curry has sweetness from coconut milk and sugar, savoriness from fish sauce, spicy and earthy notes from herbs in the curry paste, and sour from the finish of lime juice. All these different flavors combine to achieve a delicious balance on our taste buds.

Luckily, you don’t need to go to culinary school to learn how to do this. We’re here to give you a graphical study of flavor profiles as part 3 of our ‘How to Maximize Flavor’ series.

Source: A Study of Flavor Profiles

Another alternative/supplement: incorporate some quality fats into the dish to smooth out the flavors. Rendered duck fat, ghee, and lard (leaf) aren’t as terrible as their reputation.

Your Sense of Taste is Better Than You Realize

The old “tongue map” from our elementary school textbooks has been roundly debunked. Experimental confirmation of “umami” expanded Westerners’ traditional four basic tastes—sweet, sour, salty, and bitter—into five. But did you know those 5 basic tastes might actually be 6 . . . or 7, 8, or more?

Advances in the technology and techniques available to researchers have led to significant new discoveries in taste perception. Receptors have been discovered in the last few years for “tastes” long assumed to be entirely smell or texture dependent. What tastes have you been tasting your whole life without even knowing it?

Source: You Have Better Taste Than You Realize

Since the full sensation of carbonation involves both taste receptors and pain receptors, you might also just not enjoy the pain.  But there are “supertasters” who are significantly more sensitive to taste than the general population.  Women are much more likely to be supertasters – 35% of women vs. 15% of men.

Spicy (and menthol) triggers the non-taste general sense cells (which is why it also burns if it gets in your eyes, or up your nose, or even on your skin in sufficient doses). Several non-Western cultures consider “spicy” or “pungent” to be a basic taste, but within the scientific community’s current general understanding of “taste,” it isn’t one.

Taste researchers do work to isolate smell from taste when they’re doing experiments, because even a tiny bit of odor can go a very long way. Just a whiff of vanilla, for example, can make people think they’re tasting something sweetened, even if it contains no sugar at all.

Somewhat surprisingly, nose clips are usually enough to keep smell out entirely. Because they cut off airflow on one end of the nasal cavity, they also stifle airflow past the back end where it opens into the back of the mouth. Sometimes in rat experiments the researchers will go even further to seal things off, but with humans the clips are generally enough to be sure that their subjects are tasting, not smelling.

…but you could use a little more salt.