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5 Reasons We Taste What We Taste

Daisy Chow | Chef's Blade

Taste is Tactile too

The sense of touch adds another dimension to flavor. Texture and feel influence our perception of flavor. A crunchy apple and a juicy orange make for more pleasant eating experiences than their mealy or dry counterparts. A baguette is not the same without the crispy crunch of its fresh-baked crust. A smooth ice cream beats out a grainy, icy one. Even the fizz of a bubbly drink is a tactile sensation. Touch adds to the fun of food.

Spiciness is also a touch-related sensation that helps food pack a flavorful punch. The spicy kick from chilies is caused by compounds called capsaicinoids, which stimulate heat and pain receptors in the mouth, causing your mouth literally to burn in pain. The body’s nervous system releases pain-relieving endorphins in response, a pain-pleasure cycle that may explain why chili-laden foods are often so addicting. (Doesn’t everyone have a favorite hot sauce?) Whereas these foods set off heat receptors, menthol in mint simulates the feeling of cold temperatures. All these tactile sensations serve to enhance the flavors of food.

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