Food Inspiration Magazine is the online magazine for foodservice professionals in search of inspiration and innovation.
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INT21 No waste
INT20 Plant centric
INT19 Food and healthcare
INT18 Reach of the chef
INT17 Vote food
INT16 Menus of change
INT13 Future cooking
INT12 Understanding the millennials
INT11 Ownership to Usership
INT10 Plant Based
INT08 Reinventing Traditions
INT05 Shift Happens
INT04 Food & Responsibility
INT03 Food & Trends
INT02 Food & Farming
INT01 Food & Tech
Everyone is familiar with the tastes sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. But not everyone is able to distinguish between different flavours. Our frames of reference vary greatly and our palates can change. How do you taste the five ways of preparing Parmesan? And can you actually tell two Parmesan cheeses apart?
Photo’s: Paolo Terzi
You can do more with Parmesan than simply grating it. The Italian Massimo Bottura from the Osteria Francescana restaurant - named third in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 - –has been serving a dish featuring only Parmigiano Reggiano cheese since 1998.
The cheeses, varying in ages, are presented on the plate at different temperatures and in different textures. A taste explosion, with five different levels of umami, according to the three-star chef from Modena. The dish consists of a 24 month old Parmigianno demi-soufflé, a mousse made of 30 month old cheese, a liquid cream incorporating 36 month old Parmesan, a crispy wafer of 40 month old cheese and an espuma made with the crust of a 50 month old cheese. Apart from the five textures on the plate, the cheese is served at different temperatures: hot, warm and cold. And as creamy, soft and crunchy.
The sequence in which the elements are eaten is crucial for the taste experience. This is what makes the dish different every time. Start with the soufflé, then your pallet will slumber through the creamy layers of the elements. The crispy wafers as starting point ensure a sharp wake-up call for your taste buds. And the foam of the 50 year old cheese is better left to last. As light and airy it may look, the taste is so strong that it can be dominant for minutes.
Taste changes throughout our lives. Children like sweet things, and avoid extreme flavours. Elderly people who claim that something doesn’t taste like it used to, are usually suffering with taste loss.
One single negative experience can turn what was your favourite food or drink into something permanently disgusting. It’s a fact that in general, women have more taste buds than men, and thus are more sensitive to flavours. Studies show that women will pick up sour, bitter and salty tastes sooner than men.
A 2008 Danish study amongst 8,900 children showed that girls can taste sweet and sour better than boys. Boys prefer the more extreme sweet and sour tastes, whilst girls go for the milder flavours. At about the age of thirteen or fourteen, humans develop a better appreciation for sour.This is when sweet flavours become less popular and people become less sceptical about trying new ingredients.
Besides your sex, genetics play a role in your ability to taste flavours, particularly bitter. The general opinion that men prefer food rich in fats and protein has been ruled out by Swedish researchers. It’s the genes that actually play an important role in the predisposition for obesity.
Photo: Compass Group
Compass Group recently visited the University of Gastronomic Science in the Italian town of Bra. In the laboratory for sensory research they tasted two sorts of Parmesan cheese, and allowed their taste experience to be analysed.
Jonathan Neech, Director of Marketing, Communication & Engagement at the international foodservice company tells us, ‘It’s not only your mouth and tongue that you use to eat, but your eyes and ears too. To experience taste, the human body uses many more sensors and combinations between the brain and senses than we previously thought.”
Prior to the test, the participants’ taste was neutralised, and they tasted familiar flavours such as chicken bouillon, and textures such as a boiled egg. Neech tell us, ‘In the Sensory Lab, we tasted two Reggiano Parmesan cheeses. One 18 months old and the other 36 months old. We had to determine the intensity of more than 20 of the cheese’s taste elements. Theresults were wide ranging. Our answers were also completely different to those of the university’s own taste professors.’
‘The results are still too fresh to be able to say what we will be able to do with them exactly,but think along the lines of improving customer engagement and developing customer education about our services and products.’
Every individual has his/her own frame of reference and experiences. Some people are super-tasters. They have a higher concentration of taste receptors (fungiform papilae) on their tongue, and in their mouth and throat. These people also have a betterdeveloped ability to smell. The gustatory cortex, that registers tastes in their brain, is also more developed. The lesser taste gods among us are the sub-tasters.
Music : John Wizard - Muizenberg | Photo's: (CC) Gail (CC) Desiree Tonus (CC) Steven Depolo
Everyone is familiar with the tastes sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. But not everyone is able to distinguish between different flavours. Our frames of reference vary greatly and our palates can change. How do you taste the five ways of preparing Parmesan? And can you actually tell two Parmesan cheeses apart? We introduce the famous Parmesan cheese as a mean to show you how complex and rich our taste buds are.