A Vocabulary of Taste
The richer your vocabulary of flavors, the richer your ability to taste ingredients. The physiology of taste gives us the five basic flavors: sweet, sour, salty, hot, spicy. But associative words enable us to understand taste through other vocabularies. There’s the music of taste: bass and treble notes, staccato, quick, slow, lazy. Colors: pastels and primaries, especially red and green. Garden: fruity, earthy, herbaceous, grassy. Shape: big, high, low, sharp, smooth, mellow. Texture: crisp, soft, creamy, voluptuous. Art history: classic, rococo, baroque, impressionistic, postmodern, deconstructivist. Personality: intense, relaxed, casual, accommodating, confrontational, aggressive. You can also think about food in dimensions along a set of taste descriptions. No fragrance to fragrant. Sweet to dry. Soft acid to puckering. Quiet, unassuming presence to explosive or full presence. Straightforward to complex flavor. Delicate to dank flavor. Brief aftertaste to pervasive, lingering flavor.