No Matter What You Think, Radishes Aren’t Actually Spicy

Radishes may seem spicy — but they’re not. They don’t have any spicy flavor compounds in them, the way chili peppers do. So why do they taste spicy when you bite into them?

Source: No Matter What You Think, Radishes Aren’t Actually Spicy

Radishes do not have a lot of nutritional value.  There is vitamin K in radishes – 1.5 mcg of vitamin K per 116 grams of radishes.  Not a lot, but it can add up if you don’t watch out …assuming you can stand to eat that much.

Why We Love the Pain of Spicy Food

…the chili sensation isn’t just warm: It hurts! It is a form of pain and irritation. There’s no obvious biological reason why humans should tolerate it, let alone seek it out and enjoy it. For centuries, humans have eagerly consumed capsaicin—the molecule that generates the heat sensation—even though nature seems to have created it to repel us.

Like our affection for a hint of bitterness in cuisine, our love of spicy heat is the result of conditioning. The chili sensation mimics that of physical heat, which has been a constant element of flavor since the invention of the cooking fire: We have evolved to like hot food. The chili sensation also resembles that of cold, which is unpleasant to the skin but pleasurable in drinks and ice cream, probably because we have developed an association between cooling off and the slaking of thirst. But there’s more to it than that.

Source: Why We Love the Pain of Spicy Food

There is the argument that eating spicy food is beneficial in hotter climates (closer you get to the equator) because it provokes sweating, cooling you off. Which makes sense that the rats in the studies would not take to consuming spicy food – rats, like dogs, do not sweat.

Spices, not just spicy ones, had been used for  preservation (including bacteria killing) before refrigeration became possible.

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.