>>Male Presenter: My name’s Scott Giambastiani I’m one of the chefs here at Google Thanks for coming today In a couple of minutes, I wanted to introduce Barb Stuckey, but before that, I’d like to give a little bit of background on why she’s here today [clears throat] Barb Stuckey has been a food industry professional for the last 20 years She spent her formative years in a Chinese restaurant with her best friend’s parents, outside of Baltimore After college, Barb learned that the food service business from the vantage point of Kraft, back then General Foods, also Brinker International, the company that operates Chili’s, Macaroni Grill, and Corner Bakery, as well as Whole Foods She later earned a graduate degree from Cornell University Hotel School Barb is currently executive vice president for marketing at Mattson in Foster City, the country’s largest independent developer of foods and beverages for the chain restaurant and retail food industries Barb is known as the food trend, innovator, consumer, insights, and product development expert Throughout her career, she’s written articles for journals such as The Morning Cup, and industry newsletter distributed to about 6000 plus food executives, and Culinary Currents [clears throat] She also wrote the opinion pieces for the San Francisco Chronicle and Q&A column for Chow Magazine, now known as chow.com In 2008, she was awarded co-authorship of the opening chapter, the business of new product development of the first textbook to be published for the Research Chef’s Association When published in 2012, it will be called Applied Cornology The blending of culinary arts and food science and technology in food product development More importantly, now, today, she’s here with us Barb’s daily job at Mattson requires her to taste food and figure out how to make it better After more than a decade of doing this, she’s honed her tasting skills, which she’s going to show you to do today, and shares this insight through the science of taste that’s written to the general public It’s my pleasure to welcome, for the first time to Google, Barb Stuckey [applause] >>Barb Stuckey: Thank you Thanks Thanks for that welcome, Scott Now I’ve lost my– oh, here we go Thanks to Google for having me I’m going to get started in just a second, but most importantly, I need five guinea pig, I mean volunteers, to experience the sensory demo with me I got one, two, three I need two more Four, five Okay, if you guys would come take a seat up front, and on your way up, if you would take a tasting plate We’re going to– Everybody else in the audience is going to experience these experiments vicariously through your five colleagues Yes, you can put it on the plate And then, afterwards, if there’s any of these experiments that they’re going to do that you’d like to do, you can hang after I’ve got some extras All right So I’m going to tell you a little bit more about me, myself, and then I’m going to tell you why I wrote this book called Taste What You’re Missing Then we’re going to go into the content of the book, which is basically about how we taste We’re going to do some experiments And then at the end, I’ll have a little bit of time for questions and answers Okay A little bit about me You heard from Scott that I have pretty much spent my entire career in food I am now a professional food developer –You can put them on your laps and relax [laughs]– I am a professional food developer Our development labs are in Foster City, about 20 miles north of here We work for some of the largest multinational food companies in the world, like Kraft and Kellogg’s, and General Mills, Starbucks, McDonald’s And then we work for small start-up food businesses, entrepreneurs who want to introduce new foods, food businesses My job is to come up with these food business ideas and then to work with my colleagues, who are food technologists and chefs, and in the case of about 10 of them, they are both food technologists and chefs, they have dual degrees My job is to take these ideas that exist in my head and tell them how to make them come to life We do that through a process we call protosepting In the process of protosepting, I found myself side by side with my food technologists and chef colleagues, 15 years ago when I started in this business, not knowing what the hell was happening Why would I taste something that was as simple as a tortilla chip and say, “Yeah, I like B better than A and C.” And they would taste that same tortilla chip and they would get
so much more sensory output from it So I set out looking for a book I was looking for this book that would explain to me what was happening when I put food in my mouth and chew and swallow I looked and I looked and I looked That book did not exist So I ended up having to learn through a painful process of experience, what was happening as I was tasting in the lab About five years ago, I decided that that book that I’d wanted 15 years ago, I was going to write it I set out on a process of doing some research into this field of sensory science That’s the result My book is the result of that experience The book is called Taste What You’re Missing It’s basically about how we taste There are three sections to the book The first one is about the five senses, because we don’t really think about the fact that food and eating is a multisensory experience We say it’s about taste: I like the taste of something Well, actually, if you like the taste of chocolate, for example, you like the way it looks, you like the way it feels, you like the way it sounds, you like the way it smells, and you like the way it tastes The second part of the book then goes into great depth about our sense of taste There are only five things that human beings can detect using only that one sense: sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and umami If it’s not one of those five things, you’re not using your sense of taste alone So chocolate that I mentioned, the taste of chocolate is sweet and bitter, perhaps a little bit sour That’s it It’s the only tastes you get from chocolate Everything else that’s happening that makes chocolate so wonderful: the melting quality of chocolate, which just happens to melt at human body temperature, precisely at human body temperature, that’s the texture of it The aromas of the roasty, toasty, beany notes, that’s the smell of it And of course, it makes a sound when we snap it Visually, it should look beautifully dark and glossy and chocolatey The end of the book brings all these things together: your five senses, the five basic tastes, and then layers onto it other stuff that impacts the way you experience food: of course your culture, your personality, your experience, and your brain Okay We’re going to start now, go through each one of the five senses I’m going to start with– I told you, there are only five things that we can taste I’m going to tell you a little bit of a story about how I came to appreciate my sense of taste Now you have to go back with me to Foster City, in the lab, a couple of years ago We had been hired by this company to develop new appetizers for the restaurant industry This is my job, to think up new appetizers that haven’t been done I new right away what I wanted to do I grew up in Baltimore My dad used to grow tomatoes I wanted to do fried green tomatoes, which he used to make every Sunday for breakfast So I enlisted one of my chefs to start prototyping this It turns out, because we were going to sell these in huge quantities, frozen, that sliced green tomatoes were too flimsy and too wet They weren’t going to work So she said, “What if we do fried green cherry tomatoes?” “All right, let’s try that.” Then my chef came back to me and said, “You know what, we can’t find the green ones I can only get red ones to start prototyping Is that okay?” So I said, “All right: fried red cherry tomatoes Let’s try it.” We decided we would put a cornmeal crust on it I get a page one day, and it says, “Barb, please come to the lab The prototype is ready for you to taste.” Now this is my favorite part of my job This is when the idea that exists up here comes to life and I get to taste it I walk into the lab My chef is dropping these beautiful cornmeal-crusted cherry tomatoes into the fryer They’re bubbling around in the fryer, and they’re golden-coated I know this is going to be a great idea Just as she pulls the basket out of the fryer, shakes it, I reach my hand into the basket to grab one of these lovely prototypes and put it in my mouth, I hear her start to scream [screams] [laughter] That 375 degree cherry tomato, I spit it out across the room, along with the roof of my mouth [laughter] My entire tongue was traumatized
Burned off a lot of taste buds I thought, “There goes my tasting career I’m a professional taster who can’t taste What am I going to do?” Well, lucky for me, taste is such an important sense that these taste buds that I burned off would regenerate in 10 to 14 days In fact, they’re constantly regenerating on your tongue, every 10 to 14 days Taste is a contact sense Think about it Food has to be in contact with your tongue for you to be able to experience it That’s different than the sense of smell or hearing or sight, which can happen from a distance But taste has to be a contact sense So it’s important that these taste buds on your tongue work We also found out very recently that there are taste buds in your gut Now, not just food sensor receptors down there, but actual taste buds Of course, this makes good intuitive sense when you think about it, because your stomach needs to know what to do with the food you’ve just eaten It needs to tell your body how to start digesting it So it would make sense that it says, “Oh, there’s some sweetness here” or “There’s some protein here.” Now I’m going to talk a little bit about this very important sense There are three things that determine your taster type Your taster type is how you experience the taste world Each one of us experiences the taste world very, very, very differently But remember, I’m only talking about this one sense We’ll get to the other senses later The three things that impact your taster type are your anatomy, your genetics, and your personal history Let’s start with anatomy When I’m talking about anatomy, I’m talking about the anatomy of your tongue This is my fiancé’s tongue He has dyed it blue with blue food coloring, which you can do at home with your friends or your kids Just take a little McCormick blue food coloring and paint your tongue with it [laughter] Okay So your tongue is painted blue, and you’ve got these little taste buds that are going to pop up You want to take a reinforcement and put it on your tongue and count the taste buds in that little circle What you’re looking for is the density of taste buds on your tongue, because the density of taste buds indicates whether or not you are a hypertaster or what some people call a supertaster Some people have this incredible density of taste buds Their entire tongue is densely packed with these taste buds Then some people at the other end of the spectrum have just a few dotted around This person, whose tongue is covered with taste buds, will experience the tastes as three times as intense as the person who has less taste buds Imagine that you’ve got all these taste buds Something that’s bitter to you is going to be much more bitter than it is to someone Salty is saltier, sweet is sweeter, spicy is spicier We know this by counting the taste buds on your tongue [scraping sound] I’ve offered– I’ve asked these volunteers to come up We’re going to paint their tongues– No, I’m kidding, we’re not We’re not going to paint their tongues, but we’re going to talk about the next thing, which correlates with the anatomy of your tongue, and that is a genetic marker for supertaster or hypertaster In one of your cups, you should have a little white strip This is a strip that is– Do you have one? >>Male #1: Yes >>Stuckey: Okay This is a strip that is impregnated with a specific compound that will tell you whether or not you fall into this hypertaster category, with lots of taste buds on your tongue and the genetic disposition to be able to taste bitter things, or in the middle, where most people exist, or on the end which I called tolerant tasters It means that you don’t have a lot of taste buds, and you’re very tolerant of bitter taste Go ahead and take that piece of paper, stick it in your mouth, and just put it in your mouth, close your mouth, and just suck on it for a couple seconds Now I’d like you to tell me Put it in your mouth for– just don’t swallow it Just put it on your tongue [laughter] On a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being “Tastes like paper” 10 being “It’s the most intense thing I’ve ever experienced.” Give me a number between 0, paper, and 10, most intense thing I’ve ever experienced Okay, take it out now Some of you probably hate me There’s a cracker there you can cleanse your palate with Anyone have a really, really intense experience there? >>Male #1: Yes >>Stuckey: Moderate? >>Male #1: Yeah, a little bit above moderate >>Stuckey: And what did you taste? >>Male #2: Bitter >>Stuckey: Bitter Anyone else taste bitter? Yes? A little bitter?
Okay I think everybody on our panel is a taster, which means that they, like the majority of the population, fall in this middle group of people that have a good number of taste buds on their tongue The last thing that indicates your taster type is your personal history Now that I’ve told you about my trauma with the tomato, there are other things you can do that traumatize your mouth There are surgeries or viruses that you might have had that can damage your taste nerves If you’ve had your wisdom teeth pulled, for example When you have your wisdom teeth pulled, it happens very close to one of the taste nerves, the chorda tympani nerve That, if you snip it, can take out taste in the front part of your mouth If you’ve had ear infections as a kid If you had those recurrent ear infections, that may have damaged your taste nerve There’s a lot of things that can go into your personal experience that are going to layer on top of your genetics and your anatomy Okay So now we’re going to move onto more pleasant tastes We’re going to start with sweet Taste– Let me just say for a minute, the sense of taste is so important that we wire it so that it’s constantly regenerating We call taste the deciding sense You put a food in your mouth, you have to make a decision whether or not you’re going to swallow it You swallow it, you get nourished You spit it out, you don’t You swallow something that’s poisonous, you can kill yourself You spit it out, you don’t Taste is about making decisions Smell, on the other hand, is about enjoyment We’re going to talk about smell in a minute But, back to taste Sweet We know that babies are born loving sweet They come out of the womb, you can put a little sugar in their mouth, and they will light up Love sugar Why are we wired this way? Why do we love sugar? Why do we love the taste “sweet?” >>Male #1: Energy? >>Stuckey: Absolutely It’s a flashing neon sign for calories Sweet equals calories If, God forbid, there was a little baby crawling around back when we were cavemen, looking for food in any way, shape, or form we could get it, you find something sweet, a little baby finds something sweet, they can nourish themselves So we’re wired from the get-go to like sweet Sour This one’s a little bit more complicated Why do you think we can detect sour? What is it that sour communicates to us? >>Male #2: Vitamin C >>Stuckey: Vitamin C? >>Female #1: Not ripe >>Stuckey: Not ripe! Yes Exactly You’re the first person I’ve ever gotten that from I’ve given this to hundreds and hundreds of people That’s exactly right If you take an apple off the tree, you take a bite of it and it’s too sour, might give you stomachache Well, not only that, but at the point where that sweetness and the sourness in the apple are at that perfect balance where you take the bite and you go, “That’s a good apple”, that is when the apple is at its nutritional peak It has the highest level of micro-nutrients After that point, it starts to decline It’s an indicator of ripeness, exactly right What else does sour do? What does it tell us? When the milk goes bad, it goes what? >>audience: Sour >>Stuckey: Sour Right So it’s a spoilage mechanism It’s a spoilage indicator You taste something that’s not supposed to be sour and it’s sour, you don’t eat it Protective Bitter Now let’s talk about bitter My people that are sitting up here just experienced bitter What is it about bitter that we need to know? Why do we innately reject bitter? >>Male #3: Poisonous >>Stuckey: Poisonous Exactly Most poisons taste bitter What’s even more interesting, though, is most bitter things are poisonous in the right quantity So you say, “What a second, I drink coffee, that’s bitter I drink red wine, that’s bitter They’re not poisonous.” They’re not, but the compounds in those foods that make them bitter, if you ate enough of those compounds, you could die Of course, you’d have to eat a lot of coffee, you have a drink a lot of red wine So we generally don’t ingest enough But what bitter indicates is that there’s something happening pharmaceutically or there’s some medicinal thing going on There are bioactives that are good for us in certain doses, maybe not so good for us in megadoses Most medicines what taste bitter, bitter medicine
That’s because the compounds in there that are bioactive are tasting bitter >>Male #4: What about Brussels sprouts? >>Stuckey: What about Brussels sprouts? Pardon? >>Male #4: Why are they bitter? I haven’t heard of anyone overdosing and dying– >>Stuckey: [laughs] You’d have to eat a lot of Brussels sprouts in order to overdose on Brussels sprouts In fact, so much so that I don’t think you could physically get there It would be so uncomfortable for you and everyone around you [laughter] So you just don’t want to go there [laughs] The compound in it, though, if you extracted that, that’s what I’m talking about Yes? >>Male #5: Is it the same with spinach or green leafy vegetables? >>Stuckey: Yes Most green, leafy vegetables, yeah All the things in food that make them healthy and good for you are bitter I know this because we do a lot of work at Mattson in fortifying foods with things like antioxidants and polyphenols and flavonols All of those things taste extremely bitter Salt When we’re born, we can’t taste salt Come out of the womb, and we do not have the mature salt receptor Now this terrible story about how we found out that this is the case is that in Australia, they used to mix baby formula So they’d mix the sugar with the baby formula and feed it to the kids Well, at this hospital, someone mistakenly sugar with the formula and fed it to the babies They drank it like they just drank their normal formula Didn’t reject it You know when babies don’t want something They will let you know that they don’t want it No response whatsoever from the babies The babies drank this incredibly salty formula, and some of them died from salt poisoning Horrible, horrible story But we learned that we don’t have mature salt receptors But then, at a certain age, they kick in And boy, do they kick in We love our salt Salt obviously provides sodium We need sodium for our cell function We also need things like calcium, which we don’t really crave in the same way We need a lot of other micronutrients that we don’t crave in the same way Why do we crave salt this way? The way that we do? The reason is we don’t have a way to store sodium in our bodies You can take in calcium in your diet, you can store it in your bones, you can store it in your teeth You take in some sodium, and you can store it through water retention, but eventually, you’ll lose it You’ll lose it through crying and sweating and other excretion from your body You constantly need to replenish your body with sodium Of course, that was a hangover from old times when we used to have to really, really seek out sodium Today, we have easy access to sodium, and we don’t sweat as much, I guess we don’t cry as much, so we don’t lose as much Now we’re taking in more sodium than we need You have– One of your clear cups is labeled “S”, and this is salt I want you to just take a sip of the salt water and remind yourselves what salt water tastes like This is going to be important in a minute I find that most people understand four of the five basic tastes: the sweet, the salt, the bitter, the sour But we’re going to get to the last one, umami, in a minute, which people are a little confused about Okay Salt water What does it taste like? Go ahead, take a sip >>Female #1: Drink it? >>Stuckey: No, no, no, you don’t have to– [laughs] Just take enough that you can taste the salt in it Can you taste it? >>Male #1: Yes >>Stuckey: Yes Okay That’s calibrating your palate Calibrating your palate at a certain sodium level Now we’re going to move on Ah, no, we’re not I wanted to tell you one more thing about salt, which is– and I write about this in the book I have a chapter on each of the basic tastes I call salt the superhero of taste It is amazing what salt can do I mean, I don’t really need to tell people salt’s amazing We know it’s really good But the way it works is so cool The first thing that salt does is that when you salt a food, take a tomato, for example, you upset the cellular balance of that tomato What happens is it forces these aroma compounds out of the cells into the air By salting food, you are giving it more aroma, which gives it more flavor Salt not just adds saltiness, it really does give food more flavor The other thing that salt does is– I call it the superhero because it suppresses the bad guys and it lets the good guys run free The bad guys of taste being bitter, of course A little bit of salt suppresses the bitterness of something and allows the sweetness, the good taste, to come forward I’ve got a little wedge of grapefruit there
I recommend you go home and take a grapefruit, cut it into wedges, put some salt in a bowl, and sprinkle salt on half of the wedges Take the other half of the wedges, take that same bowl of salt, add a little touch– same bowl of sugar, add a little touch of salt, and then sprinkle that Taste the one with the sugar on it, and it will taste nice and sweet with a balance of the salt and the bitter that’s naturally present in the grapefruit Then you go to the one that has a little bit of salt added to the sugar It will taste sweeter because the salt is suppressing the bitterness and letting the sweetness come forward So salt is really the superhero of taste >>Female: Quick question When it comes to cooking, then, does that mean you should only salt at the very end? >>Stuckey: That’s a good question The question was: should you salt food only at the end? Salting the food in the middle of the cooking process will help marry the flavors So yes, I would suggest salting during the cooking process, but saving some of the salt so that you do have the ability to do it at the table So I would never add all the salt that you want in the recipe You want to leave a little bit of it out so you can add it at the very last minute Any of those volatile aroma compounds that are left will be forced out and into the air That will give you more aroma, the food more aroma Okay Now the fifth basic taste, which is umami Umami, of course, is a Japanese word for which we don’t have a really good translation We call it brothy or meaty or savory We don’t have a really good way of describing this taste, so we borrow the Japanese word I’m going to ask our panelists here Take the cup with the “U” on it That is our umami water I’ve matched the sodium level in the umami water so I’m going to ask you guys to describe it What does it taste like? >>Male #1: Seaweed >>Stuckey: Seaweed? Yeah >>Male #2: Tasty >>Stuckey: Tasty? >>Female #1: Kombu >>Stuckey: Kombu >>Male #3: Savory >>Stuckey: Savory >>Female #2: Disgusting >>Stuckey: Disgusting [laughs] [laughter] Yeah, it’s really odd, isn’t it? It’s very odd The reason I do this exercise is that most of the time when we taste umami, it’s in the presence of a whole lot of other things There’s aroma that goes along with it, there’s color, there’s texture What this exercise does is really let you separate salt from umami, which people get confused about A lot of people will say it tastes like broth It might taste like Dashi or it might taste like chicken broth What is giving the umami its umami-ness is free glutamates These are the three forms of glutamates that we taste: monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate, and disodium guanylate I’m sure that’s clear as mud, right? Okay, let me explain how umami works These are big protein molecules I use this analogy of someone putting a huge gumball or a huge cherry tomato in your mouth When it’s in that big form, you don’t really get a lot of the flavor from it You have to chew it down to release the flavor from it That’s what happens with umami Through a number of processes, these big protein molecules are broken down into smaller free glutamates These free glutamates are what taste so yummy They are savory, and they’re what makes food taste so good So you take cheese Let’s start with a fresh mozzarella Delicious Got a nice fatty mouth feel, it melts, it’s got some dairy notes, perhaps a little buttery, but it doesn’t have a lot else going on You take a cheese, then you age it Over the course of aging, those protein molecules are broken down into these free glutamates Now think about a Parmesan cheese You get the big block of Parmesan It’s crumbly That cheese is loaded with free glutamates That’s why it tastes so meaty Sometimes you’ll get a good Parmesan or an aged cheese that has that meaty character to it That’s umami Take a tomato, a green tomato Almost no umami Through the ripening process, it will develop seven to eight times as much umami These are the things that help develop that umami: ripening like the tomato, aging like the cheese, curing, all those cured meats You take the big protein molecules and through the curing process, you develop the glutamates Drying, fermenting One of the reasons we love fermented food so much is the development of these glutamates Okay So– yes? >>Male #6: Evolutionarily, what’s the point of this? I’m assuming our ancestors didn’t have much chance to eat those kinds of foods
>>Stuckey: Yes, that’s a good point There’s some debate about whether or not umami should be considered a basic taste for that very reason and the very reason that– What’s your name? >>Female #2: Naha >>Stuckey: –Naha said that it was disgusting because we generally– Some of us like it, some of us don’t like it We don’t really have a definitive, affective response to it The protein doesn’t necessarily taste like umami, but the amino acids do Arguably, it was because we need the amino acids for survival Okay So now we’re going to move on to the next sense, which is smell Everybody take that jelly bean out of your pocket or your– What I’m going to ask you to do is to first of all hold up your right hand and say, “I promise not to cheat.” >>all: I promise not to cheat >>Stuckey: Okay All right We got that on camera Grab your nose and just plug it Oh, this is going to difficult right here Here, let me Put it on your lap Okay. [laughs] Gotta plug your nose Now the point of this is to disable your sense of smell Go ahead and put the jelly bean in your mouth I don’t want you to release your nose until I tell you to If you’re doing this properly, you should not smell anything So start chewing Keep chewing Keep chewing Keep chewing Tell me what you’re experiencing >>Female #2: Kinda sweet >>Stuckey: Kinda sweet Sweet Yeah Kinda sweet, that’s kinda– There’s not a lot of basic taste in a jelly bean Release your nose now [pause] Yeah, okay What flavor is it? >>Male #1: Melon >>Stuckey: Melon? Cantaloupe Cantaloupe So what you were getting on your tongue, using just your sense of taste, was sweet because that’s the only basic taste that’s in jelly beans Everything else that you smell there, that whole gestalt of melon, came through your nose That’s the aroma It’s really important to understand where the sensory input is coming from That’s– Now hopefully you’ve got a good appreciation for how much of the flavor of food comes from our sense of smell I want to tell you a little bit about a fragrant flashback, which is my term for how powerful– one of the examples of how powerful smell is This goes back, again, to the lab at Mattson, where I was walking from my office to taste some prototypes I have to step back and go back to something Scott said, which is that I’m from Baltimore What you should know about Baltimore is that when I was growing up, in downtown Baltimore, the McCormick spice factory was making spices downtown One day, there would be cinnamon in the air at Baltimore And then they’d switch over the lines and then they’d have basil Later in the day would be cumin, and then later in the day it’d be coriander So all of these crazy spices were hanging in the air in downtown Baltimore A random mixture We have the spice library at Mattson with every spice known to man One of our interns was in there, taking old spices and dumping them and refilling them with fresh spices, because you want to keep your spices very fresh for the most aroma impact She takes down the cinnamon, dumps it in the trash Basil, dumps it Coriander, dumps it I’m walking by this trash can and I [laughs] go over to the trash can and I stick my head in it [deep breath in] Home [laughs] What? So that is the fragrant flashback When you smell something and it transports you to another time I know you’ve all had experiences like that, where you just smell something and you just remember something, good or bad That is– There’s an anatomical reason for this When any of our senses are detected through our neurons, through our receptors, the information goes on its way up to our brain It goes through something called the thalamus, and then it goes on to the brain, and we smell, or sight, or whatever I’m sorry, taste or sight Smell does not go through the thalamus When you smell something, it goes right to your brain without making this stop in the thalamus It’s a more direct route from sensory experience to your brain We think that is because smell is our most primitive sense
But that’s also why we have such a direct connection to emotion when we smell things There’s two different ways that we smell The first way is when we just take something and we sniff it Stick your nose in something and smell it That’s called orthonasal olfaction That’s when the smell molecules are going like this The other way we smell something is called retronasal olfaction That’s when the smell comes from your mouth You put a food in your mouth, you’ve chewed the food, and the volatile aromas that are released from it are sucked up and through the back of your nasal passages They come back past your olfactory receptors this way The quality of those smells this way [sniffs] and chew chew that way is a little bit different We’re going to do an exercise now where everybody take your straw and bend it like this Take the long end and put it in your mouth See how well they follow the directions Okay Don’t do this yet, but let me show you what you’re going to do So I’ve got something in this cup that is very aromatic The volatile aromas have been building up in the headspace There’s a little hole here Without looking at it, just take that button, push it to the side, and stick the short end of your straw in the hole So you’re going like this Start breathing in and out [breathing noises] Just breathe normally You smell it? Don’t tell me yet You smell it? You all smell it? What is it? >>Male #2: Blue cheese >>Stuckey: Blue cheese You got it Okay They did not smell it before it got into their mouth and went up that way That was all retronasal olfaction Go ahead and take the lid off and stick your nose in [pause] A little different, huh? Different >>Male #1: It’s more strong >>Stuckey: It’s more strong, for sure, because you’re sticking your nose in there The way that we experience these volatile aromas is slightly different given how they go in, whether we detect them this way or that way We don’t really know why that is, but we know it happens This could also explain why something like a stinky cheese, a really stinky cheese, may just smell wrong It just smells gross Then you put it in your mouth and you chew it, and it’s really pleasant because there’s something different happening Now, of course, when you put something in your mouth and you chew it, you’re also using your sense of taste, and you’re probably getting some saltiness and some sour and maybe a little bitter But you’re also getting the mouth feel of the cheese It just coats your tongue It’s got a nice fatty mouth feel So that’s smell The way that I describe it in the book is the difference between taste and smell It’s like a piece of art, because food is art If it’s really well made, you have a beautiful piece of art in front of you three times a day Taste, those five basic tastes, are like the outlines of the drawing They set up the structure of the food But if all you had was the basic tastes, like that jelly bean exercise, all you’d have is sweet a lot of the time All you’d have is sour some of the time It’s not really that interesting But when you add smell, the smell comes and fills in the details And so this art, this beautiful work of art, becomes what you know it to be, the signature work of art >>Female #1: I have a quick question When you have a cold, is it only blocking that side but it’s not blocking the other side? >>Stuckey: It’s usually blocking both ways because the mucus in your nose, it’s in your nasal passage It doesn’t matter which way it’s going by, there’s too much mucus for you to be able to smell it It’s in the way of the olfactory receptors But that’s a good question With smell, it fills in the details for us It gives us the pleasure from food Remember, taste is the deciding sense, smell is the pleasure that we get from food Now I’m going to talk about touch and texture I’m going to talk about texture in combination with what you just learned about smell You guys have a– hopefully you have a spoon Do you have a spoon on your plate? >>Male #1: No >>Stuckey: No Why don’t you take this straw and just dip it in the butter
What– oh, there you go What everybody has here is– Just dip the spoon in and don’t eat it yet [scraping sound] What they’ve got is unsalted butter When we’re cooking, when we’re developing foods at Mattson, we always use unsalted butter If you use salted butter when you take the amount of butter up in your recipe, you also take the amount of salt up You want to separate those variables so you can change the variables separately This is unsalted butter Now take the spoon in one hand and close your nose with your other hand What I’m going to prove to them is butter has no flavor I’m sorry, butter has no taste Plug your nose, put the butter in your mouth, and just swish it around [pause] What are you tasting? >>Male #2: Oil >>Stuckey: Oil Nothing Nothing Okay, let your nose go Butter, unsalted butter, has zero taste There’s no sweet, no sour, no bitter, no salt, no umami I always thought of butter as being creamy and sweet and– yeah, it’s creamy, but it’s not sweet It doesn’t have any sweetness in it What we love about butter is not the taste of butter You don’t like the taste of butter because it has no taste What you like about butter is that oily mouth feel in combination with those lovely, buttery, floral, green aromas that you get Go home and do that tonight with unsalted butter This was such an “Aha!” for me Butter has no taste?! It’s crazy But we do love the flavor of butter >>Male #7: When you brown butter, are you developing the aromatics or the umami of it? >>Stuckey: Yes, but that butter also, if you’re using unsalted, will not have any taste either No You are developing the aroma compounds through the browning process, but if you hold your nose, same thing You’re going to get no taste, no taste, no taste, fatty mouth feel butter All right Now we’re going to talk about kinesthesia, which is the awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body by means of sensory organs and the muscles and joints This is where texture and touch gets really interesting because we put food in our mouth all the time We talk while we’re chewing and swallowing without even thinking about it It’s a pretty amazing thing that we do [laughs] if you think about it We can manage the swallowing, the chewing, and the breathing at the same time How do we know when it’s time to swallow? We just know We’re aware of the food in our mouth at all times, but we’re not paying attention to it But we’re aware of it That’s why we don’t choke ourselves to death when we eat We know when it’s time to swallow If you think about it, next time you chew, think about what side you’re chewing on Everybody always has a dominant side, but you only chew on one side at a time, never chew on both sides at the same time Doesn’t happen You chew over here, then you push it over there, then you chew over there, then you push it over there, then you chew, then you push it over Can’t chew on both sides It’s the only joint in the human body that you can’t operate separately You can’t do it Another experiment for you to do There are a couple of foods that I called irri-tastes because we commonly think of them as tastes, but they’re not tastes at all They are actually tactile experiences, and they are irritants The first one is tannin If you think of the tannin that you get when you drink tea that’s not sweetened Or red wine, a really big California Cabernet, has tons of tannin That tannin will feel astringent on your tongue It will dry your tongue out It will suck all the moisture out of your tongue That is a textural experience That’s a tactile experience, not a taste It’s not bitter Now if it’s grapes, there might be some bitterness in there, but the tannic quality of grapes and tea is not a bitterness, it’s an astringent texture Jalapeños We love the taste of jalapeños Well, actually, jalapeños don’t have a lot of taste Might be a little bit sour, but not much But what you’re experiencing, the burn of jalapeños, is a tactile experience It’s working on the same fibers as pain Take a fork and jab it into your tongue [laughter] [laughs] That’s basically what you’re doing when you eat a chili We’re the only species on Earth that enjoys food that’s painful [laughter] But we love it It’s an irritant Coca-cola, sorry, carbonated soft drinks like that, are irritants
These little bubbles irritate your tongue Now it’s a pleasant irritation We like it But it’s an irritation nonetheless All right Now I’ve hopefully explained to you the difference between taste and smell and texture Flavor is the combination of all three It’s the taste Back to the chocolate example, the taste of chocolate is bitter and sweet and maybe fruity depending on the chocolate varietal or how it was prepared The texture of chocolate is that melty, creamy, hopefully not too waxy mouth feel Then the aromas of chocolate are the lovely browned, roasted, toasted, beany notes that we get You might get some floral or some fruity notes as well, depending on the varietal That is the flavor of chocolate When you talk about the flavor of butter, you’re talking about the combination of taste, texture, and aroma Now we’re going to talk about sight We’re going to talk about how we use our sense of sight to experience food Some of these things are pretty obvious If I show you these two steaks, which one is going to be more tender, the one on the top or bottom? Top, obviously You knew that right away You used your eyes to see that the marbling is greater So you’re constantly making these judgments about food based on its sight Sometimes, once you see it and you make a judgment, it’s really hard to change your mind once something’s not quite right Beer brewers They were brought into a research facility There were three beers Let’s just say one was Amstel, one was Budweiser, and one was Coors A, B, and C. They took three glasses of Amstel beer, poured them into pints, and then they added a little bit of color to number 2 and 3 Amstel They did the same thing for Bud and Coors So you’ve got three glasses of Amstel in three different colors, three Bud, three Coors, three different colors Then you have these professional beer brewers come in and taste them in the dark When they’re sitting in a dark room and they have to rely only on their senses excluding sight, they get them right They’re beer brewers, they should know how to taste beer Then you turn the lights on You have them do the same exact exercise And they fail miserably These are professional beer brewers that do this What do they do? They group them by color Then you ask them, “Why did you group them this way?” “Oh, well they all taste the same These all taste the same.” Well, they just did the experiment and got it right in the dark We don’t even know when our eyes have overrided what we experience It happens all the time This type of research was done with gelatin, it was done with candies, it was done with fruity beverages You can do it with wine There’s a very popular, a very famous study that was done with white wine with a little bit of red added to one of them so it looked like red wine Same thing You can fool wine professionals [audience member coughs] Why? Why does our eyes, why are they so influential? There’s a couple reasons The first is that sight is fast in terms of processing the sensory input Sight happens ten times faster than smell If we were able to control it in a perfect environment, which would be really hard to do, but if we could control when we smelled something and when we saw it, we would process the smell faster I’m sorry, we would process the sight faster It’s faster than the other senses The other thing is that sight happens at a distance Back there, you can probably see me, right? I hope you can’t smell me You have to be a lot closer to smell something You have to be even closer still to taste it, remember, because taste is a contact sense It has to be in touch with your tongue So you have these senses that have to be a whole lot closer to you for you to start making judgments about it The first one that happens, the first thing you see, biases or infects your ability to make a good decision [pause] Now this last sense that we’re going to talk about I’m going to unplug this so you’re without your sense of sight And I’m going to ask you some questions about [pause] a couple of different audio files [noisy file playing] This one’s a restaurant What do you know about this restaurant? Do they have an open kitchen or a closed kitchen?
Open kitchen It’s an open kitchen Do they have carpeting? Do they use paper or plastic or real silverware? They use real glasses They use real silverware Is it full? Pretty full So this is– [pause] [file stops playing] It’s Delfina Restaurant, in the mission, which is a restaurant that has thought a lot about its sound If you talk to Craig Stoll, the chef owner there, he will point up and he’ll say, “That’s $10,000 worth of sound panels that I’ve applied to my restaurant.” He knows very well that sound can have a somewhat masking effect on flavors He talks about his food being authentic Italian via California, but he says it can’t be as subtle as it is in Italy “I have to turn it up.” He actually used that analogy “I have to turn the volume up a little bit to compete with the energy of my restaurant.” He’s a very smart restauranteur to know this There’s some research that was recently done in the fuselage of an airplane, with jet engines going The people in the airplane experienced food with the jet engines going, that constant flum of those engines They experienced the food as less salty and less sweet than they did in the absence of that noise So we know that sound has a masking influence on tastes and flavors We also know that it can pull you in one direction We can actually put a bitter taste in your mouth with the right music, or I should say the wrong music [laughter] All right I have two more audio files These are files of me pouring water from a tea kettle into a cup One of these files is hot water, and one of these files is cold water I want you to listen and tell me which This is file number one [file playing] This is file number two [file playing] Which one was hot? >>audience: The first one >>Stuckey: How’d you know that?! Yes! Everybody, hundreds of people I’ve done this test with, everybody gets it How do you know the temperature of water from sound? >>audience: [inaudible] >>Stuckey: You know this You’re so in tune with the sound of your food Incredibly intuned to the point where you can tell the temperature of water by its sound Yet we take this totally for granted We don’t really think about how much information we take from the food’s sound Bite into an apple, and if it crunches one way, you know it’s going to be a good apple You bite into it and it crunches the wrong way, ugh, you know it’s not going to be right Okay In summary, [pause] what I have hopefully taught you today is just the basic fundamentals I have a chapter on each one of the five basic senses All five of which we use incredibly well when we experience food Food that tastes good, using the word improperly, looks good, sounds good, feels good, smells good, and tastes good Then I have a chapter on each one of the five basic tastes and go into them in great detail: sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and umami And how understanding how they work and how they work in balance and how you can balance the tastes in a food is really important, because once you get the five basic tastes right in a dish, the rest is easy It’s the structure of the dish I say once you have this fundamental understanding of how we experience taste, just like anything that you study, the more you understand about it, the more appreciation you’re going to have for it The more you study something, the more you understand, the more pleasure you get from it That is the whole point of this book, is that you start to understand what’s happening via all of your senses and all of your tastes and how they’re being stimulated Then you can take more pleasure from it
That is all Thank you to my five volunteers [laughs] [applause] >>Male #1: What was this? >>Stuckey: I have– Oh, I forgot to– I was going to make you tape your nose up I have a couple minutes, I think, for questions, maybe? Bitter is the indicator Bitter is the one that correlates with the anatomy and the genetic ability to taste The other ones follow suit So if you do not taste that paper as bitter, if you just taste it as bitter, you’re not going to taste salt as intensely or sweet It follows along exactly We don’t use the others to test because they don’t– The bitter one is one that we know the genetics to that We don’t know the genetics for the other four basic tastes But they’re correlated Once we get that one right, we know what the other ones are going to be The second part of your question, which is can we train ourselves? Yes, and hopefully that’s– There are a number of exercises in the book, kind of like these exercises, which are like the one we did where we separate salt from umami Being able to understand the difference between salt and umami Once you do that exercise, then you’re going to be much more aware of the umami in your foods It’s simple training One of the hardest things to do is to take something and just sniff it and know what it is without seeing it That is really hard for chefs to do It’s just very, very hard But people that do it professionally, people that are in the wine business, for example, or in the perfuming business, tend to be better at it It does show that practice makes perfect For example, when I started in food development, my colleagues would talk about rancidity and what was rancid I had no idea what rancid was, so I begged them, “Please let me taste something rancid [laughter] Next time there’s something rancid, can you point it out to me?” I have a little rancid vial, if anybody wants to smell rancidity Because I had to train myself because I wasn’t detecting it I didn’t know what to look for, what to smell for Now I know, and now– Olive oil, I can smell rancid olive oil a mile away But 20 years ago, I couldn’t It’s practice makes perfect Really, really, really does help >>Male #8: Does the practice makes perfect principle hold true for foods you don’t like? Like Brussels sprouts? [laughs] >>Stuckey: Yes Yes, yes, yes Research has shown that it takes between five and eight attempts at a food before not rejecting it That doesn’t mean you’re going to become, after the fifth or the eighth taste, you’re going to become the world’s biggest fan of Brussels sprouts, but keep trying it Give yourself a couple of times Your taste buds and your olfactory system change dramatically as you age, so you might decide, if you keep trying it, keep trying it every couple of months or every season, every Brussels sprout season, try it again As you age and your olfactory changes, you may be able to experience it with less of the sulfury smell or you may be able to experience it with more sour and less of the bitter Your whole physiology with regard to taste changes So I would suggest continuing to taste >>Male #8: So there are two pieces to it? There’s the degree which I can affect it by consuming it formally– >>Stuckey: Yes It’s called mere-exposure It’s just the mere exposure to something I’ll give you an example When I started in the Mattson lab 15 plus years ago, I hated canned tuna Just the smell of canned tuna was disgusting to me Then I get a tuna project For four years, I ate tuna every day I had to I tasted canned tuna every day I love tuna today I love it! Because I can– I don’t like every kind of tuna I like good tuna And I’m discriminating now about my canned tuna I like the once cooked and not the twice cooked, and I like the albacore and I don’t like the light So mere-exposure will help >>Male #8: Okay, great Thank you >>Female #2: Have you tried a stinky tofu or durian? >>Stuckey: Yes I think– the question was: have I tried stinky tofu or durian? I think durian is, I think there’s something similar that happens with durian that happens with a stinky cheese, which is the orthonasal smell of durian is just– If you haven’t smelled it, it’s kinda like rotting flesh, like garbage, sewage It’s just really rank But people love it So something different happens when you eat it Of course, when you eat it, now you’re not just getting– What happens, I think, is when
you’re smelling it, all you’re getting are those rank odors, and you get them one way Then you put the fruit in your mouth Now you’ve got sweet and sour basic tastes, because now you can use your sense of taste So you take that rank odor and you combine it with the sweet and the sour that you get from taste, and now it’s something different altogether Maybe things start to fall in place There are a lot of foods like that, where we think that the smell is just so– Stinky tofu comes up all the time Just unbearable But taste it If you put it in your mouth, if you can get it into your mouth, you will have a different experience of it Of course, a lot of this is cultural, too Stinky cheese is You grow up in France, and a stinky cheese shop smells really good to you [pause] >>Male #9: So my daughter says that kale is the most hideous thing ever >>Stuckey: Kale? >>Male #9: Kale And my wife is convinced that is has no taste at all You can’t even tell it’s there How can I let them know that they’re both right? That they both have different taste experiences? >>Stuckey: What you’ve just described is what I hope people take away from this book, which is taste empathy [laughter] We have to have taste empathy Really, we don’t talk about it in this country Like it’s okay for us to say, “I can’t see that over there because I don’t really have good eyesight” but yet we don’t accept the fact that one of our other senses can vary from person to person Right? We all have different vision, different visual acuity What I think happens, or is happening in your household, is your wife is a tolerant taster, meaning she has probably a very not so densely populated tongue, with taste buds, and she genetically is probably also unable to taste the bitterness in kale She might be right To her, in her private sensory world, kale is crunchy and fresh and vegetal and not bitter Then in your daughter’s sensory world, it might be the most bitter thing she’s every put in her mouth And they’re both right You’re exactly right They’re both right Of course you can never know what– another person’s sensory experience You should do that at home Take the blue dye and paint your daughter’s and your wife’s tongue and then have them count the taste buds inside the hole of the reinforcement They can prove it to themselves that they have very different anatomy That hopefully will give your wife some taste empathy >>Male #10: Is it big enough to count? >>Stuckey: Yes You’re just going to need to get really close to a mirror But watch out, because blue dye stains carpets and towels I found this out the hard way [laughs] >>Male #11: Along those lines, I was wondering if you have any explanation, specifically for why some people claim that cilantro tastes like soap? >>Stuckey: I always get this question Always get this question Cilantro is a really interesting thing In the food world, we call it polarizing You just don’t sit on the fence about cilantro You either love it or you hate it [laughter] We know a lot about cilantro We know that there is a genetic component to your liking of cilantro The way we know this is that we do research with twins There’s this place in Ohio called Twinsburg Every year, they have a twin festival All these twins go there The researchers are just drooling at the mouth, because they can take a set of fraternal twins and a set of identical twins and test something Of course, you can determine, by the correlation, whether or not there’s a genetic component to it If the correlation is perfect for the identical twins who share 100% of their DNA but not for the fraternal twins, who don’t, in fact, they’re just like any other set of siblings, you know there’s a genetic component to it We know there’s a genetic component to the liking of cilantro The other thing that we know about cilantro– There’s been a lot of research on this subject This is such a polarizing food What apparently happens is that when you run cilantro through the GCMS, the gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, which is what you can run something through to get the volatile aroma menu out of it You expose someone to the smells that occur in cilantro There is an aroma experience that people who love cilantro get, that people who don’t,
don’t get The same thing People who hate it, they’re smelling different– When you run something through this GCMS, it gives you spikes in volatile aromas There are certain things, certain volatiles in the cilantro, that people that hate it are not experiencing There are certain things in there that people who love it are not experiencing So they’re getting different pictures of it They’re not– Neither one of them is getting the same picture as the other This is true of cilantro It’s probably true of a lot of foods But there’s been a lot of research done on cilantro That is that your personal experience of the aroma of cilantro may be very different than someone else’s The beautiful stuff that makes it beautiful to you may not occur, may not be happening, in someone else’s experience Or the disgusting part that you find really offensive may not be experienced by people who at it >>Female #3: Going back to your early comment about sound in restaurants, does that mean that if you’re a really good chef, you should try to get a really, really quiet restaurant, and if your food’s not so good, you should have it as loud as you want, blare loud music, and everything? >>Stuckey: I don’t think it’s that literal I hope chefs don’t take it as that literal Of course you want appropriate sound in your restaurant You want to pair the sound and the music with the food It needs to be appropriate I think what chefs try to do, or what restauranteurs, I don’t know that it’s chefs necessarily, what restauranteurs try to do is build ambiance into the restaurant They try to build energy into the restaurant via sound That can work in some cases where the food can stand up to it and where you want that energy There are other restaurants where the food is much more subtle, and you want people to experience the subtlety of it, which probably wouldn’t work It’s so different for every experience, every restaurant, every chef, every owner, and every type of food It’s just– What I’d like people to think about is just think about it, period Just think about the sound of food, which we just don’t think about those two things together >>Giambastiani: All right, well, I think that wraps up our time for right now We’ll have some time for more questions at the book signing But Barb, thank you very much for speaking with us today >>Stuckey: Thank you Thank you guys for having me [applause]