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Accepted abstract - Creative Tastebuds Symposium

Biased flavour or just flavour?

By Martin Marchman Andersen, Technical University of Denmark

As the sense of taste only detects the basic tastes, it is commonly understood that the taste of food  is much more accurate captured by the concept of flavour, following ISO (and most of the literature), the rather “complex combination of the olfactory, gustatory and trigeminal sensations perceived during tasting.” Within the last decades, however, several studies have found colour, sound, information, and circumstances to impact flavour, and, subsequently, it seems common to say that flavour is deceived, or flavour is biased.

Addressing flavour as biased, however, presupposes some distinction between the (very) flavour and the perceived (but biased) flavour. But such distinction also seems artificial. Only very rarely, if ever, do we eat blinded for sound, vision, and information and we never eat blinded for circumstances.

Moreover, following Gordon Shepherd, flavour is not literally a property of food, though it depends upon its molecular composition, but a subject’s sense reaction on a substance. In other words, flavour is in the brain, not the food.

So what then justifies the current and commonly used definition of flavour? In this paper I will argue that the concept of flavour ought to be redefined. Subsequently I will suggest how.