Test Your Sense of Smell

This is so cool. Pinch your nose and, then, place a jellybean on your tongue. Start chewing it. You can tell that it is sweet, but can you tell what flavor it is? Heck no! That’s what I discovered when a docent at the marvelous, wish-it-would-come-to-Nashville exhibit, Food: Our Global Kitchenhanded me a cinnamon jellybean and asked me to do likewise. I tasted nothing. Then she told me to unplug my nose and suddenly a burst of flavor hit me. It was startling and very much an “aha” moment. All those years of telling children to hold their noses so they wouldn’t taste yucky meds and I never once questioned why that advice worked.

This traveling exhibit, curated by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, is all about the history and culture of growing and preparing food explored from a global perspective. The exhibit needs to come to Nashville with all of its farm to table restaurants, a climate conducive to growing vegetables almost year round, and a growing population of immigrants. Here’s the link to info on getting the exhibit to a space near you!


So what happened?

Here’s a scientific explanation from Newton’s Apple,  “Seventy to seventy-five percent of what we perceive as taste actually comes from our sense of smell. Taste buds allow us to perceive only bitter, salty, sweet, and sour flavors. It’s the odor molecules from food that give us most of our taste sensation. When you put food in your mouth, odor molecules from that food travel through the passage between your nose and mouth to olfactory receptor cells at the top of your nasal cavity. If mucus in your nasal passages becomes too thick, air and odor molecules can’t reach your olfactory receptor cells.”  That’s why when you are sick with a stuffy nose almost everything tastes the same; your brain can’t receive any signal identifying the odor and the odor molecules remain trapped in your mouth. [That’s when you should pray that someone brings you a nice bowl of Sick Soup.]

And a graphic from Planet-Science:

smell and taste_304x323

The more you know–an old wives tale about plugging your nose to take your medicine, explained.


Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

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© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.