Assessing taste and quality of dishes

“Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.”
Marcel Boulestin, chef, food writer (1878-1943)

It is very important for us chefs and foodies to continue to assess the quality of our food by constantly tasting while we are cooking. In this way we learn about flavour and the changes that happen when different ingredients are added to a dish. The continueation of this will make us become more skilled in blending and mixing different flavour components over time.

While cooking we use our senses to guide us in the creation process of a dish. We detect the flavour through our to main senses of taste and small. The overall taste of food is made up of one of more primary tastes which there are four of.

These are:

  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Salt
  • Bitter

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Our sensation of taste is detected by the taste buds in our mouth, mostly on the upper surface of the tongue. Different parts of the tongue are particularly sensitive to different primary tastes. Our sensitivity to different primary tastes varies between us greatly.

Besides taste, the colour of food is extremely important and part of the enjoyment of eating food. People have become very sensitive to the colour of food they eat and will tend to reject any food that is not considered to have the accepted colour. There is a strong link between the colour and the flavour of food. Our ability to detect the flavour of food is very much connected with its colour, if the colour is unusual our sense of taste becomes confused. For example, if a fruit jelly is red we automatically assume that the flavour will be that of a red-coloured fruit, such as raspberry or strawberry, even if the flavour turns out to be lemon or banana.

The depth of colour also effects our sense of taste. We tend to associate a strong depth of colours with strong flavours. For example, If I place five different shades of jellies down in front of you, you would automaticlly think the darker shade will have a stronger depth of flavour. This is because as you know, the nose shares the same air way with the mouth so we taste and smell our food at the same time.

With taste and smell, we first decide whether a particular dish is edible and then we go onto sample its chemistry simply to enjoy it.

The temperature of food also affects our way of tasting food. Low temperatures decrease the rate of detection. The maximum taste sensitivity ranges from 22 – 44°c. Sweet and sour are enhanced at the higher end, salt and bitter at the lower end.

Our sensitivity to flavour of food in our mouth is greatest when we breath out with our mouth closed. This is because the air from the lungs passes along the back of the mouth on its way up to the nose and brings some of the food vapours along with it. Give it a try next time you have something to eat.

Sorry for the lack of posts guys, I have been very busy since coming back from Philippines in May.

I hope you have found this post informative and if you have any questions please do leave them down blow.

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