While working on a new project, I have been delving deeper into the chemistry, the science of olfaction as well as taste. During my weekend reading of Harold McGee’s Food & Cooking: an Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture, I came across a quote that explains the relationship between taste and olfaction in a very clear and simple manner. “The olfactory receptors in our nasal passages can detest many hundreds of volatile molecules that are small and chemically repelled by water, and therefore fly out of the food and into the air in our mouth. The sensations from our mouth give us an idea of a food’s basic composition and qualities, while our sense of smell allows us to make much finer discriminations” (270).
As a side note, I cannot recommend Food & Cooking: an Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture highly enough. I was given the book as a present by a fellow foodie to consult as one would an encyclopedia, that is, to read bits and pieces as the need would arise. Instead, I started reading this 800 page volume cover to cover, without losing my interest and all the while being amazed by McGee’s incredible knowledge. The book also provides enough fascinating information to those who are interested in fragrance. Can you guess what Serge Lutens’s Bois de Violette and Pinor Noir have in common? Read on for an answer…
The answer is ionones, the violet scented aroma-materials, which are widely used in perfumery and which give Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon their voluptuous violet notes.
McGee, Harold. 2004. Food & Cooking: an Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture. Hodder & Stoughton, London. (on amazon.com)
The Lady and The Unicorn tapestry representing the sense of smell (more interesting information).