Flavor vs Taste and When One is Lost


Taste is one of the five sense, what we pick up through the taste buds on our tongue, often simplified to the basics of sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and umami. Flavor, on the other hand, is the combination of the senses taste and smell. If you’ve ever had a head cold with a stuffed up nose you might notice that things don’t “taste” quite right–a bit of a misnomer since, really, all you’re doing is tasting, not, um, flavoring.

This was my predicament last week. It started on Monday afternoon when I grabbed a mini-Reese’s cup and couldn’t taste the chocolate at all, and barely the peanut butter. I still had some of my coffee from the morning, so I took a sip, paying attention this time, and found that I could only describe it as sweet; no particular flavor, and certainly not the vanilla that I’d used when I made it. Hmmm.

The strange thing was, even though I wasn’t feeling fabulous and I did stay home on Tuesday to try and sleep away whatever it was in its early stages, I didn’t have a stuffy nose. I could breathe just fine, etc. It was really strange. And this small bout of anosmia (the technical term for the lack of a sense of smell) lasted through Friday–longer than I’ve ever dealt with, even that time I had 3 cases of bronchitis & sinusitis in 3 months (more like the first cases never went away, but it was still the reason I didn’t even try to see the ball drop back in 2003).

Cooking supper this week was a series of ‘honey, I hope this tastes right!’

OTP 1-11-1-17

Monday: Broiled Tilapia and Roasted Sweet Potato Risotto

Tuesday: Cranberry BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Corn on the Cob

Wednesday: Orange Chicken with Rice Noodles and Green Beans

Thursday: Eggs, Grits, Turkey Bacon & Links

Friday: Corn Chowder with Cheddar Garlic Drop Biscuits

Saturday: Beef Negimaki with Not-Fried Brown Rice

Sunday: Chinese Take-out

Todd assured me everything was tasty this week. What I took away from the week’s experience was a renewed respect for the basic tastes (sweet was the easiest to detect, sour the next best) and the importance texture plays in our enjoyment of food.

Take, for instance, our BBQ pork night. I always use a bit of mayo and sweet relish on my barbecue sandwiches. While the flavors definitely play a part, the creamy texture of the mayo and the crisp cuts of pickle are a great counterpoint to the sauced pork. Another texture highlight were the rice noodles with the orange chicken–they were perfectly chewy without being too crunchy or too gummy.

I’m more than happy that my nose is working again and food has regained its flavor. Still, being without one sense, while frustrating, gave me a different perspective. And perspective is always good!

Have a tasty week!

42 thoughts on “Flavor vs Taste and When One is Lost

  1. I live in a house full of picky eaters, so it’s tough for me to introduce new tastes into my meals. I do try and sneak things in, though.

    1. That’s definitely a challenge, Robin! Growing up we didn’t have the option to be picky, Mom made dinner and you either ate it or went hungry 🙂

    1. And it’s so simple, TaMara: add 1/2 a bottle of your favorite bbq sauce and a cup of whole-berry cranberry sauce to a slow cooker with a 2lb pork loin roast and maybe 1/2 cup of water. Cook 6-8 hours and shred, so tasty!

    1. I’m sorry to hear that, Debra! Hopefully you’ll find your inspiration, if not here then check out Menu Mailer, eMeals, or Foodie Dice 🙂

  2. I love trying out something new every now and then, but it isn’t often since my family and I are picky eaters. By the way, that Roasted Sweet Potato Risotto sounds so delicious!

  3. My kids love new dishes and we get tired of the old dishes!! Thanks now I have some new ones!!!

  4. I hate when things don’t taste right thanks to head colds. Everything just tastes bleh. Thank goodness for gracious husbands who are brave taste testers!

    1. That’s trust, right??? I’m just glad I realized it before making dinner Monday night, otherwise I’d have probably added way too much salt trying to bring the flavor up!

  5. As a fellow food-lover, I can definitely commiserate with your temporary lack of smell (so glad it was temporary!). It just takes so much joy out of one of the biggest pleasures of life.. 🙂 Sounds like you did a great job though, even with a handicapped sense! (better than me, I’m sure) 😉

    lauriel (EyeForElegance.com)

    1. Cooking is similar to muscle-memory, you know what’s supposed to go where and in how much, you just lose the ability to fine tune it. I’m also glad it was temporary!

    1. Like I told Robin, we didn’t have the option to be picky and Mom definitely wasn’t about to make multiple meals–we ate what she made or we didn’t eat. Was that the right or best way? Who knows! But we all grew up just fine and I don’t think you could call me or my brothers picky eaters 🙂

    1. My friend, Lyssa, often orders Negimaki at our favorite Japanese restaurant and it’s surprisingly simple! The not-fried rice was only because I didn’t make the rice ahead of time to cool, trying to make fried rice with hot rice never works out 🙂

  6. When I was younger, my mom got a horrible flu and when she finally came out of it, she had lost her sense of taste…it hasn’t come back. I can’t even imagine not being able to taste food! Your meals look delicious though!

    1. Oh, gosh, that sounds horrific! I know that as we age our senses dull, and smokers often have reduced senses of smell and taste, but to just have it gone like that. It would be quite an adjustment!

    1. And it’s super-simple, CourtneyLynne! 2lb pork loin, 1/2 bottle bbq sauce, 1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce, 1/2 cup water, and slow-cook for 6-8 hours on low and shred.

    1. Oh, if only that were the case for me; it would be a consolation prize, lol. Despite not being able to fully enjoy what I was eating, my blood sugar still drops if I don’t fuel up regularly, so I had to eat even if it wasn’t all that appetizing.

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