10 things you didn’t know about flavour


Taste is fairly well understood. It is detected by the tongue and is neatly categorised into sweet, bitter, sour, salty and umami. If food was only experienced as taste, chefs and restaurant critics would be out of a job. Luckily, taste is only one facet of the complex thing we call flavour.

Flavour is, of course, the stock in trade of chefs. For centuries, they have been combining flavours to create something that is more than the sum of its parts. From a scientific point of view, however, flavour is not that well understood. Although there has been a drip-feed of research over the years, there has been no cohesive effort to study flavour as a discipline.

That has just changed. BioMed Central, publishers of open access science journals, launched a new title: Flavour. For the first time, there will be a forum for flavour research, whether you’re a biologist, a chemist, a neuroscientist, a psychologist, an anthropologist or even a philosopher. Unlike most science journals, which are aimed at a narrow group of specialists and are all but indecipherable to everyone else, Flavour hopes to appeal to a much broader church, including chefs. (‘Flavour’ is published by BioMed Central (biomedcentral.com))

Before the research starts pouring in, here is a quick run down of some of the things scientists know about flavour.


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