On a Beach Walk: No. 49 (Taste)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Take your pick – think about your favorite food – or your most recent meal – or what are you going to eat at your next meal. Better yet, how would you describe its taste? Think beyond a mere similarity and contrast statement as it tastes like chicken.

Taste is not superfluous – taste is both serious and fun. Chefs pride themselves on achieving a certain taste in their culinary creation, yet how many of us take time to taste beyond the obvious that is associated with chewing and swallowing?

We make conclusion statements as I like it or not – but can explain why? Can we distinguish and describe flavors? That’s when taste is serious and fun!

I think about how taste serves as a protection mechanism against poisons while serving as a basis for cravings. Babies not like bitter, but over time, the same person may end up enjoying coffee.

I think about how a sommelier is trained to distinguish flavors in wine – while to some wine drinkers, simple terms in tasting notes as fruity, dry, oaky, citrus, and more may be reasons to like or dislike a wine. In school we learned about taste as sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Today, we add savory (umami) to that list. However, have you ever tried to describe the taste of a cherry to someone who can’t distinguish tastes? Better yet, to someone without a sense of taste?

Taste is serious and fun – yet to living things with that ability, taste is about meeting nutritional and survival needs. For we humans, taste starts with nerve endings primarily located on the tongue.

I like black licorice – and that means I also enjoy raw fennel – but that distinct taste is not for everyone. On the other hand, I consider the taste of caraway seeds as evil – but others love it. I didn’t enjoy sauerkraut as a kid – but today I have ways of accepting the taste. So I wonder, how much of our personal preferences lie in our DNA versus how much is learned?

I’m of Italian descent, so some automatically assume I’m a lover of garlic. Well, that’s not true for me, but I also believe garlic’s overabundance in food masks other flavors.

The sense of taste delivers the joys of culinary delights. The sense of taste distinguishes excellence from mediocrity. The sense of taste is an important aspect of what makes a meal memorable. Yet, taste is personal – but deeply personal for those who use it.

As I walk on the beach, there are days I believe I can taste sea salt from the ocean in the air – then again, maybe that’s the smell influencing that thought. Nevertheless, I like walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

50 thoughts on “On a Beach Walk: No. 49 (Taste)

  1. This is such an interesting topic to muse on Frank – especially as my mind is ready to turn towards the kitchen and what I shall make for our meal this evening……. I’m one of those odd people who find the taste of coriander (or cilantro as I think you may know it) completely unpalatable. Apparently it is a genetic thing. And I can smell the stuff a mile off. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but hopefully it gives you the idea. Apart from that I love tasty, well seasoned foods. Mmmm garlic 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pauline,
      Glad you enjoyed the tasty walk. Cilantro isn’t on of my favorites – especially if there is too much of it. There are so many herbs and spices for cooking that provide such a variety of tastes. Gotta love basil! 🙂 Ah ha … I want to know what you ended up having for dinner!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was inspired by your post Frank 🙂 I put together an all in one dish of chicken pieces, cherry tomatoes, green olives and a big handful of ripped basil leaves, sprinkled with olive oil and doused in lemon juice and seasoned…….. While it baked I whipped up a pot of potatoes, mashed them in kefer and butter and served the chicken on the bed of mash. Goes without saying everything was organic except the basil 🙂

        Like

    • Rachel,
      Thanks. You may have noticed that I’m going through the senses – so more to come. In terms of my heritage, I’m not far off the boat. My dad was first generation born in the US, my mother was an Italian citizen, I still have 4 first cousins and an aunt in Italy – and I was born in a city that is now in Italy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I also picked up on the series of sensory posts. Smell and taste are definitely related.
    (BTW, I think you meant umami.)
    From what I’ve read, there’s both a genetic and a cultural or familial aspect to what we like. “Super tasters” tend not to like strong bitter tastes. But then there are people who are just picky eaters. 🙂

    I like some anise flavor, but not licorice candy. Caraway is fine–you need it for good Jewish rye bread! I like garlic and basil and cilantro. . .Red wine, dark chocolate, walks on the beach. . . 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Taste is a good topic, Frank. Your post made me reflect that a significant part of the public I see at restaurants may be missing a chunk of this pleasure by eating too fast. People come into restaurants after us and leave before we do. This also must be a factor in the current obesity epidemic, not just in America but in many other countries. Fast food industry has produced many taste enhancements that also promote overeating.

    In addition to taste, I submit that texture is also very important. One establishment we frequent for lunch came up with a sandwich that’s become a favorite: jalopeno turkey crunch. The fresh bread contains the jalopeno kick and is perfectly set off by herb mayo and a layer of crunchy baked potato chips. My mouth just started watering. Pablovian.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jim,
      Glad you enjoyed this tasty walk. I’m right with you about people more interesting on filling their stomach and less interested in tasting. Then again, tasting requires work and thought – therefore a reason why people don’t take the time.

      Thanks for sharing the interesting tidbits about the turkey sandwich. On a similar note, chef Bobby Flay’s burger places offer a “crunchify” option – that is, adding potato chips on top of the burger (below the bun). Very interesting!!!!

      Like

  4. In recent years my sense of smell has declined, which my doctor says is common with men my age. The smell I miss the most, however, is that first wonderful wiff of salt air which used to alert me that I was within a mile or two of the ocean. Oh well, at least I can still take in a mouthful of seawater when I first wade in during a beach walk and know with certainty where I am.

    Liked by 2 people

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