Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sense-ational Part 3 - Tastefully Done...

Bite into an ooey, gooey dark chocolate caramel pecan turtle (like these Pecan Turtle Clusters from ChocolateMadness ) and what do you taste? Your initial response would probably be sweet, decadent goodness. Try it, but really think about the flavors as they hit the taste buds on your tongue. Amazingly, these receptors, which can differentiate the subtle differences between sweet, salty, bitter, savory, and sour, will send a number of signals to your brain as you're munching on that delectable treat. They detect the slight bitterness of the chocolate, the sweetness of the sugar, and even that pinch of salt that was probably added to the recipe.

I think the most interesting thing about taste is how much one person's perception of taste can differ from another. I tend to be a food purist - I rarely add salt or pepper to my food at the table and I can honestly say I like to enjoy most foods with a limited amount of additional seasonings. Al, on the other hand, likes his foods highly seasoned and almost invariably has the salt shaker in his hand before he even tastes his food. A few months ago after a discussion with some friends about this subject (over a meal), I decided to see what information I could find to explain this difference. I ran across this interesting article explaining a quick and easy way to find out whether you're a super-taster, a normal taster, or a non-taster. If you take this test, post a comment here and let us know what you are!

On to the yummy goodness...

Etsy has its share of edibles and potables, so tracking down examples of tasty sounding goodies wasn't difficult - narrowing the selections down definitely was! There are some products there that look and sound absolutely amazing in their descriptions, and these were my own personal favorites from what I saw.

First up let's look at sweet... definitely the hardest category to pick a single item from since there is such a great variety of candy, cookies, and cakes on Etsy! Fudge is one of my favorite sweet treats so this Creamy Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge That Melts In Your Mouth from the OhFudgeStore definitely appeals to my palate! And for those of you who aren't plain chocolate fudge purists, they have a huge variety of other flavors like Peanut Butter, Cookies and Cream, Raspberry White Chocolate, and Coconut Cream - just to name a few.

(Wiping away the drool...) On to salty! If you're going to indulge in salty goodness, sea salt is one of the healthiest ways to go. These Bavarian Pretzels from MissMunchie look absolutely scrumptious - and again, Miss Munchie offers a variety of other toppings (as well as some other amazing munchies) to suit your own favorite tastes!

Next up is bitter - I can see you scrunching up your nose at the mere mention of the word. While it's true that most Americans shy away from bitter tasting food, some items fall under the "bitter" food and beverage category that are actually pretty popular - like beer, dark chocolate, and coffee. There are also a huge number of common vegetables that, if you like vegetables, you probably enjoy. Among these are arugula, radishes, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. If you like to "grow your own", be sure to check out Etsy for shops that specialize in garden supplies and seeds... but since I'd rather indulge in the yummier (and sweet) side of bitter-sweet, I chose these Coffee Truffles from calabasascandyco. Dark chocolate and coffee meet the "bitter" definition, sweetened perfectly to make them worthy of satisfying your bittersweet craving!

How sour a food tastes is usually determined by its level of acidity, and can be naturally sour or transformed into a sour tasting food. Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and grapefruits fall into the naturally sour category, while sour cream is a good example of a food that is purposefully acidified to make it sour. Most people have a love/hate relationship with sour - and whether or not they enjoy sour foods often depends on how they are served. Kids, I think, just deal with sour tastes better... perhaps as we get older our taste buds change and our tolerance for sour changes as well. All I know is that all of my granddaughters love sucking on lemons (at least once they get past the initial sour shock) and I remember my kids and their friends enjoying sour gummy candy when they were younger. That trend still continues in these Pucker Ups by LaughingCrowCookies . Now would these be a great special treat just to say "you're special" to those little ones?

There was a time when science didn't realize that taste buds also recognized savory flavors, but that is knowledge that has come of age. About time! I love savory flavors... just to clarify, savory flavors are those that are more salty than sweet or sugary, more piquant and full flavored than merely spicy. Purposedesign 's shop on Etsy is full of just such spicy, savory goodies. I think this small global blends spice kit is a great collection - sure to turn that pot roast or stewing chicken into a savory, tasty main dish or add a wonderful touch of flavor to everything from fish to fresh baked bread.

Next week, I'm going to tackle shopping for products that are sound-rich to appeal to your sense of hearing, so be sure to check back by for part 4 of this series!

1 comment:

Lazy Apples said...

My mouth is watering, I want chocolate!!!

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