The Art and Science of What We Eat

Book - 2015
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A fascinating and deeply researched investigation into the mysteries of flavor, from our ancestors' first bites to ongoing scientific advances in taste and today's "foodie" revolution.
Publisher: New York :, Scribner,, 2015.
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781451685008
Branch Call Number: 664.072 MC
Characteristics: vii, 291 pages ; 24 cm


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May 26, 2018

An informative book on the cutting edge of culinary flavour experimentation and research in molecular gastronomy. Interesting to learn that they are studying archaeological finds and trying to recreate the recipes of fermentation, some unique traditions carried on, and the actual history of sugar. As well, a comparison study on the different world regions' preferences. Can really appreciate the concept of the "Terroir", the entire local environment which heavily influences the outcome of aging, fermentation and chemical reactions. Also discusses the catch-22 natured physiological dilemmas. Very fine and specific.

Feb 19, 2017

I'm not sure how to rate this book. It had some interesting anecdotes - but the overall 'story' was not particularly coherent, and I felt that many of the anecdotes were incomplete (like somebody at a cocktail party telling you stories they half remembered). So, on the one hand, I'm going to look up some of the references to read more about the more interesting anecdote but on the other hand, this book is making me do that because it didn't go into enough depth about them and jumped around too much.

Mar 01, 2015


ksoles Jan 27, 2015

A new addition to the "why X explains human behaviour" genre, "Tasty" argues that our sense of taste has shaped us into a restless, curious species that dominates the planet, suffers from high rates of disease and groups itself according to meal preference. Pulitzer-winning science writer John McQuaid's engaging book abolishes the biased view of taste as the crudest and least interesting of the senses. Instead, McQuaid tells of taste's power to create giant industry, enforce social norms, and shorten life spans. He writes: “More than vision, or hearing, or even sex, flavor is the most important ingredient at the core of what we are. It created us.”

Perusing the pages of "Tasty," you’ll learn that recognizing bitterness has proved more crucial to the development of advanced life-forms than any other flavour; hence, the human mouth has only three types of receptors for sweetness but 23 for bitterness. You'll learn that taste drove the domestication of animals and new technologies such as fire. You'll learn how entrepreneurs try to crack taste's codes.

McQuaid leaves much unsaid on this vast topic and admits that much remains unknown. But he certainly proves his talent for vivid metaphor and deftly explains often complicated research. He looks at the quandary of why human beings take pleasure in eating painfully spicy food, possibly as a way to feed our hunger for risk and arousal without risking actual bodily harm. Ultimately, McQuaid shows that, “Flavour...is only the capstone of a vast, hidden system.”

Jan 24, 2015



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