A Meal with Zing

Its time for another meal.  We never get tired of eating another meal.  We need food to live.  But that doesn’t explain the variety of what we eat.  A pre-mixed, specially formulated Purina Human Chow would be sufficient, if we simply ate for our bodies nutritional needs. No, when we eat it is an experience!

Eating engages all our senses.  Sometimes, eating isn’t always the experience we would like it to be.

“We eat with our eyes first,” is a saying that we have all heard.  The worst eating experience of my life, was trying to eat under a green translucent fiberglass roof over my patio.  The green cast upon our food turned our favorite summer foods into a very unappetizing color.  You might think hunger, and given our understanding of what was causing the unappetizing color, that we could have over-come the off-color.  No.  It is an essential part of our survival as a species to identify the safety of food, first, by how it looks.  If it doesn’t look good, we can’t make ourselves eat very much at all, even though we tell ourselves it is only an illusion.

The aroma of food draws us in.  The smell of food is a major factor in the enjoyment of eating.  I once had a friend who could not smell anything.  Her inability to smell put her at a clear survival disadvantage.  If you can’t smell your food, you may not know it is bad. In addition, appetite is stimulated by the aroma of food, encouraging us to eat a little more. Without the stimulation of smell, the food tastes bland, flat, it lacks any zing.   My friend must measure out her food (she could do it by eye) and eat everything on her plate, not because she wanted to, but because she knew she needed it.  She joked, “At least I’ll never be fat.”

Taste is what really entices us to eat, once our reptilian brain has decided it is safe to eat, and our sense of smell has confirmed our food is unspoiled and aromatic enough to be enticing, then we taste.  Taste is so important that we have five types of taste buds.  We can taste sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.

Mix a little fat, sugar and flour together, and you have the basic building block of a cookie.  It may seem odd that we would like sour, but think of lemons, sauerkraut, and buttermilk.  Salt is in so many foods we have to be careful to watch our intake, because it is a flavor enhancer.  When the cook corrects the flavor, it is with the addition of salt to perfect the dish.  Don’t think you like bitter?  Some of our favorites are on the bitter list:  beer, coffee, tea, olives and many types of greens.

Umami is new to the taste scene, technically the taste of glutamate, but all you need to know, is that it is that yummy taste from meat and vegetables. Astringent and pungent are trying to replace this term.

Other things that add to our eating pleasure is soft lighting, soothing music, and pleasent company with friendly conversation.  If you need a little extra zing, there is a world of spices to explore.

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