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!