do the taste buds really cover all our tastes?!?! What else matters??

April 24, 2014

tongue tastesSo in case you don’t know, the taste buds are sour, sweet, bitter, salty, and we have been introduced to a new one in the past century called umami.  I didn’t know what umami was (I thought it meant spicy for awhile), but looked it up and it describes a pleasant savory taste.  It describes a lot of foods, like breast milk, cheese, beans, grains, green tea, and Japanese foods.

So if these are the only taste buds, they don’t really cover all the foods we have, do they?  I mean meat doesn’t really fall under any of these does it?  Maybe umami covers it, but since umami was only found 100 years ago, it must be under some other taste bud, or mixture of sweet and salty or something.


It seems odd that we have a whole taste bud for salt, when salt use is usually (or supposed to be) minimal.  Maybe because we over salt our french fries or soups or whatever, people think we have a taste bud for it.  And who really eats sour foods?  Those are only citrus fruits or really disgusting candy.  The more I think about it, the more the umami taste bud seems to cover more than we think it does.

So, if we really do have all these taste buds, maybe because we have the salty and sweet ones right on the tip of our tongue, maybe that’s why we’re so attracted to salty and sweet foods.  The umami taste bud seems to cover the whole tongue, and doesn’t seem as overpowering as the other ones.  Maybe that’s the way food should be.

However, I am reading a book about the science of cheese, and the author goes into detail about the senses.  Taste isn’t just the be all end all to food.  Appearance, aroma, flavor, sound, and texture all come into play when eating food.  Some of those aspects surprise me, such as appearance and sound, but they shouldn’t because being in the business of food in this country is so competitive, everything matters.

If you notice on the picture, there’s a big spot right in the middle.  I wonder if this is the umami taste bud?  Maybe nobody knows what this is.  Any guesses out there?











2 Responses to “do the taste buds really cover all our tastes?!?! What else matters??”

  1. Ben Says:

    Hi, taste perception doesn’t really work like this. Pictures like this are popular, but they represent an outdated understanding of how it works. The taste receptors for each taste are distributed all over the tongue. There isn’t distinct zones for each.

    • hummusgirl Says:

      Hi! Thanks for the constructive criticism! I guess I was trying to second guess the government, because I feel they are responsible for sending out ill-advised messages about food (also like our current food pyramid!) I’ve learned since writing this that there are taste receptors all over the body, and maybe when I take my food chemistry class next year, I’ll learn about this. I guess I was trying to make a point about how misleading government knowledge about food can be! I’m actually taking some political science classes now in order to really take on this matter seriously! Take care, thanks for writing! Hummusgirl, aka, Joan

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