There are plenty of ways to describe the difference between eating and tasting. You could get as technical as – “eating” is the actual consumption of food or drink for nourishment purposes. And tasting instead is the art which happens just before ingestion, the lingering of flavors on the palate.
Now this is clearly a pretty clinical definition, but let’s get a bit more vivid to help paint a better picture. You’re home late after a long day of work and all you want to do is sit on the sofa, scarf down last night’s pizza leftovers and top it off with a glass of wine. This is eating. Plain and simple.
But when it comes to tasting, there are a few basic factors which must be respected – taste, aroma and flavor.
Flavor = Taste + Smell
Both taste and smell are perceptions related to the wonderful olfactory gland, which lie within the mucus membrane of the nasal cavity (hence why we both sniff and taste wine). The combination of these two give us a sense of flavor. This means that we must find the perfect balance between the two in order to achieve something as simple, and elegant as flavor.
So, what exactly is taste then and what is smell?
There are four primary tastes that we perceive: sour, salt, sweet and bitter
This is very different from smell in that they cause physical reactions on within the mouth. Add a pinch of salt to your mouth, and you will soon realize that your mouth’s reaction is more related to sensation than aroma or smell.
The sense of smell comes from the same gland, but does not have the same functionality. Smells are often associated to memory and emotion and are pretty much any chemical substance which float throughout the air and perceived by our noses.
Smell is a funny perception because it can be received from both our nose and the back of our throat, so the substance being smelled has two major receptors and two ways to be analyzed, making it even more complex to “objectively” pinpoint.
So, what happens when you mix taste and smell? You get flavor. This is no small feat. This is the art of tasting.