Matters of Taste

Peter Graham

  • On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee
    Allen and Unwin, 684 pp, £20.00, September 1986, ISBN 0 04 306003 X
  • The French Menu Cookbook by Richard Olney
    Dorling Kindersley, 294 pp, £12.95, September 1986, ISBN 0 86318 181 3
  • Out to Lunch by Paul Levy
    Chatto, 240 pp, £10.95, November 1986, ISBN 0 7011 3091 1
  • The Good Food Guide 1987 edited by Drew Smith
    Consumers’ Association/Hodder, 725 pp, £9.95, November 1986, ISBN 0 340 39600 8

More and more cooks, and more and more people who like their food (gourmets, gourmands and gastronomes – but please not that appalling neologism, ‘foodies’), are showing an interest in the scientific basis of cooking techniques and the mechanics of taste. Why and how do certain dishes come to taste as they do? The latest edition of The Good Food Guide, which remains, for all its shortcomings (such as an excessive reliance on consumer feedback), the most reliable guide to British restaurants, has an interesting article by two scientists on their work with trained ‘taste panels’. It seems that some people are physiologically more sensitive to some chemicals than others and therefore perceive them differently: ‘a matter of taste’ is a figure of speech which would appear to be corroborated by science.

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