Tasty

Tasty

The Art and Science of What We Eat

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
4
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A fascinating and deeply researched investigation into the mysteries of flavor--from the first bite taken by our ancestors to scientific advances in taste and the current "foodie" revolution.

Taste has long been considered the most basic of the five senses because its principal mission is a simple one: to discern food from everything else. Yet it's really the most complex and subtle. Taste is a whole-body experience, and breakthroughs in genetics and microbiology are casting light not just on the experience of french fries and foie gras, but the mysterious interplay of body and brain.

With reporting from kitchens, supermarkets, farms, restaurants, huge food corporations, and science labs, Tasty tells the story of the still-emerging concept of flavor and how our sense of taste will evolve in the coming decades. Tasty explains the scientific research taking place on multiple fronts: how genes shape our tastes; how hidden taste perceptions weave their way into every organ and system in the body; how the mind assembles flavors from the five senses and signals from body's metabolic systems; the quest to understand why sweetness tastes good and its dangerous addictive properties; why something disgusts one person and delights another; and what today's obsessions with extreme tastes tell us about the brain.

Brilliantly synthesizing science, ancient myth, philosophy, and literature, Tasty offers a delicious smorgasbord of where taste originated and where it's going--and why it changes by the day.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2015.
ISBN: 9781451685008
1451685009
Characteristics: 291 p. ; 24 cm.
Alternative Title: Art and science of what we eat

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susan_findlay
Feb 19, 2017

I'm not sure how to rate this book. It had some interesting anecdotes - but the overall 'story' was not particularly coherent, and I felt that many of the anecdotes were incomplete (like somebody at a cocktail party telling you stories they half remembered). So, on the one hand, I'm going to look up some of the references to read more about the more interesting anecdote but on the other hand, this book is making me do that because it didn't go into enough depth about them and jumped around too much.

a
anchoa4
Mar 01, 2015

pulitzer

ksoles Jan 27, 2015

A new addition to the "why X explains human behaviour" genre, "Tasty" argues that our sense of taste has shaped us into a restless, curious species that dominates the planet, suffers from high rates of disease and groups itself according to meal preference. Pulitzer-winning science writer John McQuaid's engaging book abolishes the biased view of taste as the crudest and least interesting of the senses. Instead, McQuaid tells of taste's power to create giant industry, enforce social norms, and shorten life spans. He writes: “More than vision, or hearing, or even sex, flavor is the most important ingredient at the core of what we are. It created us.”

Perusing the pages of "Tasty," you’ll learn that recognizing bitterness has proved more crucial to the development of advanced life-forms than any other flavour; hence, the human mouth has only three types of receptors for sweetness but 23 for bitterness. You'll learn that taste drove the domestication of animals and new technologies such as fire. You'll learn how entrepreneurs try to crack taste's codes.

McQuaid leaves much unsaid on this vast topic and admits that much remains unknown. But he certainly proves his talent for vivid metaphor and deftly explains often complicated research. He looks at the quandary of why human beings take pleasure in eating painfully spicy food, possibly as a way to feed our hunger for risk and arousal without risking actual bodily harm. Ultimately, McQuaid shows that, “Flavour...is only the capstone of a vast, hidden system.”

d
delfon
Jan 24, 2015

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/book-reviews/in-depth-research-and-a-sense-of-narrative-sweeten-tasty-the-art-and-science-of-what-we-eat/article22606048/

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