Taste is a physiological trait that gives the ability to recognize the flavour of something when it is taken to the mouth. The word represents ‘urge to eat or to drink’ and to experience the flavour of what is taken into the mouth. In literary context, the word taste means a personal inclination to appreciate and to enjoy. It also connotes what is proper, what is good or what is beautiful.
Physiological ability to respond to something in a manner that can help the organism is different from the response the same thing elicits in the linguistic style of literature. The word ‘Taste’ is a fitting example for this premise as could be seen from the two sets of meanings the word conveys.
Everyone knows what the basic flavors of taste are. According to Ayurveda, the ancient herbal medicine system of India, astringent, bitter, pungent, salty, sour and sweet are prominent taste-adjectives. In the West, the eminent philosopher Aristotle for the first time developed the list of basic tastes: He postulated that the most basic tastes are sweetness and its opposite, the bitterness. Taste is also referred to as smatch or gestation that detects flavor of substances like food, minerals and poison.
Taste is felt or experienced through sensory organs: These organs generally identified as taste buds, are localized on the back and front of the tongue and also on the sides of the mouth. There are five basic tastes which are sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami. Umami was identified as the fifth basic taste. The identification was made more than a century ago. Umami owes its origin to Japanese and the word means ‘savoury’ taste or ‘meaty’ taste. It is still under doubt whether meaty taste is not a combination of the other tastes, selectively or jointly.
Sense of taste provides basic information of both harmful and beneficial objects. It can therefore, help identify which is aversive and which is good and beneficial. The identification depends upon the effect the thing or the object of taste impacts on the physic. Sweet food is generally conceived as energy rich. By the same yardstick, bitterness reflects whether the object is harmful or poisonous.
In a recent study, scientists have discovered that genes give Africans a better sense of taste than Europeans. What could be the reason for it? Is it because Africans are more close to nature than Europeans?
Yes, it ought to have to be so because, in general, the Africans in most part of the Continent are more close to nature than the people in European and Asian Continents. That might be the reason for the Africans to have better sense of taste.
The geneticist Sarah Tishkoft in the University of Pennsylvania had found that in people of European and Asian countries, one of the two genes which enable detection of bitter-tasting compounds (TAS2R38) is missing whereas Africans in Kenya and Cameroon have the both which enable them to have subtler and delicate sensibilities. This premise cannot be questioned because the absence of one of the genes might reduce the ability to taste bitterness and smell aromas, in degrees, in populations which are exposed to different eating styles and smelly surroundings compared to those prevailing in unaltered natural environs like in African Countries where the nature still rules over human intervention.
Apparently, however, the finding of the geneticist has flaws: It might not be only in Kenya and Cameroon that the people are having higher auditory, visual, olfactory and motor sensibilities. If the researchers had spent some time with tribesmen in Australia, Burma, India and elsewhere, the same phenomenon could have been found.
In most cases, researchers in science and technology when they deal with human physic seem to forget the complexity of human body including the brain and its interaction with the environs. When these researchers come across a point of interest, they seldom carry forward the research farther to probe all the physiological aspects of human mind which tend to quantify specific and peculiar behavioral patterns.
During the course of evolution, the central nervous system and the sensory centers in the brain of humans were developed in tune with the prevailing natural environs. It is the changes in the natural environs that alters the sensibilities and modify or change the genes. The so-called advanced Europeans and Asians have moved far, far away from the natural environments that prevailed at the time of the evolution when homo sapiens shaped up. Since then, as hundreds of thousands of years passed by, changes to unimaginable extent took place in the internal and external environs of the humans. Naturally therefore, the taste sense of modern civil society has also undergone changes. This has resulted in the decline of taste sensibilities of people who have moved away from the natural environs.