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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Hallet

Tales of Taste #1: The Big Five

How do chefs decide how to pair certain flavors together? What the heck is Umami? And why does everything taste better covered in chocolate?

"Honey could you run to the store? I just ran out of things to dip in chocolate."

Some food is just too delicious. You've been there. You fall under its spell when you order it at a restaurant. You realize you're full about halfway through, but you keep eating, your fork pulled back to the plate over and over, as if you're helpless, hypnotized by its extreme tastiness, and you just don't want it to stop. There's a word for that. It's called moreish.

There's a reason some food is just pretty good and other food is please-lord-never-let-this-meal-end-good. In order to understand what makes something moreish, you've gotta start with some basic principles of taste. Every chef in the world knows these principles, and they apply pretty much universally, from regional and traditional dishes to modern gastronomy, though the ingredients used may vary. This blog series, which we’re calling Tales of Taste, will investigate four of the five basic tastes identified by philosophers, scientists, chefs and gustatory enthusiasts throughout history - Salty, Bitter, Sour, and Umami - to see what happens when they are paired with the fifth (and arguably best) taste: Sweet!

Food and drinks from around the world will be our case studies as we try and figure out why and how certain tastes go together. You’ll learn more about the biological mechanisms and evolutionary basis of your food preferences, and even learn some ways to change your mind about certain tastes. We’ll also study the history of the science of taste, and meet some of the scientists, chefs and foodies that made big strides in the study of what we eat and why.

Ideas and examples about new flavor combinations abound in each post, along with a recipe to try if you find your interest piqued.

Commercial food research shows that most people show more interest in products that offer layered flavors, rather than foods and beverages based on a single, one-dimensional flavor. Cola, for example, will always beat out orange soda, due to the relative complexity of it's flavor profile. Here at Chocolate Chip of the Month, when we develop our recipes we do a ton of research on how to build those complex flavors in order to make the most delicious, and compelling, chocolate chip cookies.

Stay tuned to the Baker's Dozen to catch the whole series, and make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter to get the latest updates and announcements about blog posts, flavors, specials and more.

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