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The 5 senses and cooking

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hello all,

I am curious about what senses you find important in the kitchen and which you think you rely on the most?

By looking at our 5 senses, we can see uses for all of them.

What am I interested in the sense of "Smell."  I am curious if people use their nose in order to help gauge when ingredients/the food is at their peak.  It seems when doing the actual process of cooking you can rely mostly on sight and taste, but what about smell?  

Thanks all.

post #2 of 6

Since no one has replied as yet, I'll bite. 

     Is there a reason you think no one uses their sense of smell? This seems an odd question.

     The smell of freshly baked bread seems to be a popular smell.  The aroma in Grandma's house when she cooks Sunday dinner is a memory for many.  

     When food spoils, many people know it spoiled because it stinks. Burned food has a distinctive smell. 

 Smell is a big component of taste. That's why people tell you to hold your nose when having to take disagreeably tasting medicine. 

This all seems common knowledge to me. 

Why do you ask?

post #3 of 6

I rely on smell all the time I always tell my wife - if you can smell food you better check on it.  That said smell memory has to be learned like any other memory extension and it just takes practice.


Interestingly enough I smoked for 13 years and when I quit I was amazed at how long it took my sense of taste and smell to recover.  I didn't know they had been impaired, but the were.  It took about a year to get them fully functioning again and believe me I seasoned a lot less aggressively after.

post #4 of 6

Cooks use all their senses, including intuition.  You wouldn't ask someone what body part they use if they're walking because the whole body is involved.  Same thing with cooking.  All the senses work together.  We see if vegetables are vivid and fresh or limp and browning.  We smell when a spice hits the pan or garlic is about to burn.  We touch protein to gauge the internal temperature.  We listen for sizzling when the food hits the pan.  We taste for seasoning and balance of flavors.  I may be able to smell ingredients as they are cooking but I have no idea how they are balanced in the dish unless I taste it.  And one certainly cannot use smell/sight/touch to see if something has been seasoned properly.  

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #5 of 6

Smell and taste are very related!  I had a roommate who had anosmia (can't smell).  She couldn't taste a lot of things too, and over salted everything.

post #6 of 6
kind of more specific than the op's question but to address taste...

taste consists literally of five, maybe seven different "tastes"... depends on who you ask. the rest of what we perceive as "taste", specifically differences therein is more a function of the retronasal cavity and trigemina nerve, also tactile sensations and psychology can influence the way we perceive how something tastes. Check out any number of French chemist Herve This' works (Columbia Press in the USA translates alot of it into english), also American neuroscientist Gordon Shepherd has a great book Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavour and Why It Matters which is very informative.
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