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5 Reasons We Taste What We Taste

Daisy Chow | Chef's Blade

Smell Makes up the Lion’s Share

When we think about what a food tastes like, we are thinking about the various, complex, and often delicious sensations that make up flavor. The brain analyzes flavor through a combination of taste—sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory—and smell. In fact, the olfactory sense contributes 80 to 90% of what the brain perceives as flavor.

Food stimulates our sense of smell when we inhale airborne molecules through the nostrils and when air wafts up the back of the throat and into the nose as we chew and move food around in the mouth. The olfactory nerves in the nose are sensitive to odorant molecules from food and send messages to the brain that enhance the taste messages coming from the taste receptors. The nose can distinguish anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 different odors, allowing us to differentiate between not just apples and oranges but lemons and limes. Also, the hotter the food, the more odorant molecules evaporate into the air, the stronger the aroma and the more the food stimulates the appetite.

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