Flavor: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense

Flavor: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense

by Bob Holmes


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A journey into the surprising science behind our flavor senses.

Can you describe how the flavor of halibut differs from that of red snapper? How the taste of a Fuji apple differs from a Spartan? For most of us, this is a difficult task: flavor remains a vague, undeveloped concept that we don’t know enough about to describe—or appreciate—fully. In this delightful and compelling exploration of our most neglected sense, veteran science reporter Bob Holmes shows us just how much we’re missing.

Considering every angle of flavor from our neurobiology to the science and practice of modern food production, Holmes takes readers on a journey to uncover the broad range of factors that can affect our appreciation of a fine meal or an exceptional glass of wine. He peers over the shoulders of some of the most fascinating food professionals working today, from cutting-edge chefs to food engineers to mathematicians investigating the perfect combination of pizza toppings. He talks with flavor and olfactory scientists, who describe why two people can experience remarkably different sensations from the same morsel of food, and how something as seemingly unrelated as cultural heritage can actually impact our sense of smell.

Along the way, even more surprising facts are revealed: that cake tastes sweetest on white plates; that wine experts’ eyes can fool their noses; and even that language can affect our sense of taste. Flavor expands our curiosity and understanding of one of our most intimate sensations, while ultimately revealing how we can all sharpen our senses and our enjoyment of the things we taste.

Certain to fascinate everyone from gourmands and scientists to home cooks and their guests, Flavor will open your mind—and palette—to a vast, exciting sensory world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393244427
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/25/2017
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 357,469
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Bob Holmes has been a New Scientist magazine correspondent for more than two decades. He has a PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona, is a passionate home cook, and is a member of Slow Food Canada.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Broccoli and Tonic 13

Chapter 2 Beer from the Bottle 44

Chapter 3 The Pursuit of Pain 86

Chapter 4 This is Your Brain on Wine 105

Chapter 5 Feeding Your Hunger 132

Chapter 6 Why Not Iguana? 164

Chapter 7 The Killer Tomato 202

Chapter 8 The Cauliflower Bloody Mary and Other Chefly Inspirations 228

Epilogue: The Future of Flavor 260

Acknowledgments 273

Notes 277

Index 297

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