If You Can’t Smell, You Don’t Know Beans
November 7, 2010
As Whiff-afficianados know by now, the taste buds of human beings can identify only 5 basic sensations: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory. All more subtle shades of taste are actually flavors, a co-mingling of those 5 recognizable tastes with the over-10,000 smells recognizable to humans.
In fact, as we learned in Olfactory Fact #21, an experiment by The Food Network’s popular Food Detectives blindfolded and nose-clipped a four-man panel of tasters, and discovered that the subjects were unable to distinguish between the flavors of peach and mango, coconut and cherry jelly beans, or apple and raw potato.
Here’s a nifty little experiment you can perform for yourself. Just pinch your nose closed while eating a jelly bean. The flavor of the jelly bean is reduced to a simple slightly sweet sensation in the mouth. As soon as you release your nose while still chewing on the jelly bean, you’ll get a sudden rush of flavor, demonstrating how flavorless life would be if we actually depended on taste alone to appreciate the food we enjoy.