What’s The Deal With Tastebuds?

27 September, 2019

They are the holy grail of the culinary world and what every chef on the planet works to woo. Ever wondered why your favourite food tastes so good? Or why that first
sneaky sip of beer at your Aunts birthday party left you looking for something to spit it back into, yet twenty years on you are now a connoisseur of craft beer and you slurp the amber nectar with love and appreciation and maybe even noting the botanicals or flavour bursts with each sip?

Well you can thank your taste buds, it’s these tiny taste receptors that kick off your appreciation of all things YUM (or not) & with each of them replacing themselves ever two weeks, it’s important to remember that something you tasted some years ago can taste very different now.

The average adult has between 5,000 & 10,000 of these tiny taste receptors hanging out on our tongues! It’s these transmitters of taste that suck up the chemicals that are realised by our food when we chew, and together with our nose (yes we can’t forget the conk) creates the true flavour or ‘perceptions’ of flavour. These interactions between the sense of taste across all these little receptors creates your very own perceptions of the foods you eat.

Let’s break this down 101 style. When you chew, enzymes in your saliva break down the food. Fragments of which will come in contact with your tongues papillae (aka
taste buds) each of one of your 5,000 or so papillae contains around 50- 100 chemical receptor cells that identify the five basic tastes: bitter, sweet, salt, sour and umami. And here’s something we bet you didn’t know. Your tongue isn’t the only place that has tastebuds. Yup! There are also taste cells that sit in the back of your throat and on the flap of cartilage at the back of your mouth called your epiglottis as well as in your nose and your sinuses! All these cells send signals to your brain and are converted into what we perceive as taste.

So that begs the question, is taste merely an illusion, a brain trickery of sorts? Surly not *GASP*. But yes, it’s true. Taste is a trick that our brains play on us with every
single bite of food we take – Mind. Blown. Our bodies are so incredibly smart and our tastebuds are no different, in fact tastebuds have helped evolve the human race since the very beginning. The sense of taste may have actually helped us test out new foods – either warning us with foods tasting bitter and sour which may have helped differentiate between rotting or poisonous and non- poisonous things that we put in our mouths to try.

With the back of our tongues being more sensitives to these bitter tastes, we may have been able to spit these foul foods out before swallowing, thus living to see another day. Salty and sweet foods may have also indicated to our brains that these types of foods were rich in nutrients and to indeed eat more of them to survive. Lastly, if tastebuds weren’t complex enough, have you ever wondered why you can hardly taste food when your clogged up with a cold? Well it isn’t so much your tongues tastebuds that are the culprit for this, but rather the fact that a big element of taste is odour which travels to the receptors and activates signals in your brain meaning, if you can’t smell it, you’ll barely be able to taste it!

Put those tastebuds to the test and try all the wonderous and worldly flavours that Chatswood Interchange has to offer!