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Review Of ‘Taste Matters: Why We Like The Foods We Do' By John Prescott

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Por:   •  21/11/2013  •  347 Palavras (2 Páginas)  •  311 Visualizações

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In Taste Matters: Why We Like the Foods We Do, Professor

John Prescott – a Sydney-based psychologist, and

long-time editor of the popular food science journal

Food Quality & Preference – tackles the fundamental

question of why it is that we like certain foods and not

others. After all, every one of us has been in the situation

where something that we find delicious tastes disgusting

to others around us: Japanese natto, or

fermented beans, for the westerner, and rice pudding for

those from Asia, being but two popular examples. One

novel addition to the list of disgusting foods introduced

by Prescott in his latest book is the Icelandic dish

hakarl, a kind of putrefied shark. This particular fish is

somewhat unusual in that it excretes ammonia through

its skin. The people from Iceland prepare the shark by

burying it in the ground for a couple of months until it

reaches maturity. A delicious treat to the locals, apparently,

but absolutely horrible to pretty much everyone

else. But what exactly are the key factors that are responsible

for driving our differing responses to food?

And what can we do to change people’s food preferences

(that is, to get young children to eat more vegetables,


The focus of Taste Matters is very much on the sensory

basis of our food preferences. In the first part of the

book, Prescott explains why it is that in matters of taste

the type of taste matters. It turns out that we are all

born liking sweet tastes; sweetness, after all, normally

signifies energy (for example, carbohydrates) in plant

matter, exactly what a growing baby needs. Perhaps unsurprisingly,

mothers’ milk is very sweet. We also seem

to be genetically predisposed to like the savoury taste of

umami, signalling as it does the presence of protein in a

foodstuff. While this fifth taste is very popular in Japanese

cuisine, it is much less familiar to westerners.

Nevertheless, most people will have come across the distinctive

taste in foods such as parmesan cheese and in

the meaty taste of tomatoes (perhaps explaining why we



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