Why am I always dousing my eggs in hot sauce while my dad winces at the faintest chile heat? Why do I believe beets embody deliciousness while they rank at the top of your "utterly disgusting" list?
Prize-winning veteran journalist Bruce Feiler weighs in on this question and a host of others in a fascinating article Gourmet story about the fast-changing science of taste. Flavor chemist Terry Acree from Cornell University says, "Flavor chemistry is finished." He explains:
“Flavor chemistry is finding the chemical molecules that are important to aroma and taste. We spent decades doing this. But the other side of the equation is what’s been missing: how these chemicals interact with our bodies. That’s the part we’re getting to now.”
And they are getting there, thanks to big breakthroughs, many accelerated by the decoding of the human genome in 2003. By isolating the genome's individual taste receptors, scientists can begin to understand how we respond to every flavor known (and perhaps unknown) to humankind.