[credit : iStock photo/GrenouilleFilms]
Recently I’ve been reading a lot about the science of food and flavour. My review of Taste What You’re Missing: The passionate eater’s guide to why good food tastes good by Barb Stuckey [Published by: Free Press>$26] ran in New Scientist last week.
BARB STUCKEY has some interesting advice: next lunch break, turn your mind to tantric sex, then apply the same principles to your sandwich.
In Taste What You’re Missing, Stuckey argues that our lives move so fast that we devour meals fit for a king without even looking away from our computer screens. A more tantric approach - taking the time to understand and appreciate food as it plays on the senses - could transform the most simple of lunches into something altogether more rewarding.
She draws on extensive research as well as on her experience as a food developer to explain the psychology and physiology of taste. At times the science is beautifully simple, revealing the reasons for many culinary truisms. Red wine isn’t actually bitter, it is astringent - producing a sensation that feels like dryness in the mouth. This explains why wine marries so well with the slick fattiness of a steak, which counters that dryness.
But too often Stuckey skips over the science, opting instead for clumsy, inappropriate metaphors and condescending explanations. Frustratingly, she raises interesting questions - such as why we don’t crave salt in the way we thirst for water, even though both are vital for survival - and then leaves them unanswered.
Nonetheless, with sensory exercises at the end of each chapter, this book does deliver on its promise to reconnect you with your palate, and even make you a better cook. If only Stuckey’s delivery didn’t so often leave a bad taste in your mouth.