[Image Source] FLASHBACK
Taste and supertasters (plus some ‘try this at home’ things!)
Taste is very simple. You can taste five things: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami. There have been other tastes proposed, such as that for fats (see this post). Everything you typically think of when you think of taste is actually flavor (“raspberry”, “vanilla”, etc.) and happens retronasally (the smell of food coming up your throat and to your nose). This is why if you have a cold and are congested, food won’t “taste” very good. You can do this experimentally by eating some jelly beans (the strawberry ones work super well). Plug your nose. Now, put the jelly bean in your mouth (make sure your nose is still plugged!!). Now start chewing. It just tastes sugary right? Now unplug your nose. Wow, right?
Supertasters (~25% of the population) are people with a lot more tastebuds per square inch as compared to medium taster (~50% of population) or nontasters (~25% of population) with much less tastebuds on the tongue. Chefs tend to be supertasters, so we think it relates to how well you can taste food and how sensitive you are to the tastes. (See the image above for the difference in supertasters and nontasters.) To find out if you are a supertaster, get some blue food coloring (don’t worry, it won’t hurt you). Spread the blue food coloring on your tongue with a Q-tip. Close your mouth and reopen it (to get rid of excess blue food coloring). Now look in the mirror. All your tastebuds should be really obvious. Cool, isn’t it?