The 5 Basic Tastes


The thing that I will remember five years from now is the 5 basic tastes. This concept of our taste buds only being able to taste sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami is very interesting to me. Before learning about this I would have never thought that our ability to taste different foods would come down to five simple taste categories. After learning this I now understand why my favorite candy is sour patch kids and sour skittles. This is because it uses two of my five basic tastes in sweet and sour. The sensation of have the first wave of sour with an after wave of sweet is amazing.

My mother has always asked me why I loved the candies that are sour and sweet more than any others and I have never had a valid explanation for her. I will now be able to explain to her this concept and she will not be able to question me again. The taste of umami also explains why many people love to sit down and have a great burger or steak dinner. You can find umami in almost every one of my main dishes at every meal.
-Adam Hoffman


I got surprised when I read "our taste buds only being able to taste sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami".I think your story about candies does help me to explain to my mom why I like to put sugar in the water I drink everytime. The reason may be that my taste buds are so bad at telling sweet that I usually feel my tongue is bitter.

These five tastes are interesting because they are the end product of thousands of years of evolution. These were obviously adaptive features at one point, but in this era they seem to be much more detrimental. For instance, if people didn't crave and seek out foods that are high in fat or high in sugar, obesity would be much less prevalent. This is another example of how humans are not prepared for thriving in a world of excess.

An interesting experiment that could be conducted would be to find out if taste is hereditary or not. I would argue that the physical structure of the taste buds and the orientation of the taste buds on your tongue are hereditary and a result of genetics however environmental influences may have lead you to prefer different tastes than your ancestors.

There are so many dishes made everyday, and it's semi mind-blowing to think that it all comes down to a mix of five tastes. Like someone before me, it'd be interesting to look into the evolutionary process of how are taste buds developed, and even if there was genetic connection between taste preferences (why some people don't like sweet, some people don't like sour, etc). It'd also be interesting to investigate into whether certain tastes were lost in the evolutionary process, to see which flavors we could be missing out on now.

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This page contains a single entry by hoffm983 published on April 21, 2012 2:51 PM.

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