Taste What You're Missing
The Passionate Eater's Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good
By Barb Stuckey
(Atria Books, Hardcover, 9781439190739, 416pp.)
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
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Whether it’s a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup, maple-cured bacon sizzling hot from the pan, or a salted caramel coated in dark chocolate, you know when food tastes good to you. But you may not know the amazing story behind why you love some foods and can’t tolerate others. Now, in Taste What You’re Missing, the first book that demystifies the science of taste, you’ll learn how your individual biology, genetics, and brain create a personal experience of everything you taste—and how you can make the most of it.
A seasoned food developer to whom food companies turn for help in creating delicious new products, Barb Stuckey reveals that much of what we think we know about how taste works is wrong. And the truth is much more fascinating—for instance, your tongue is not divided into quadrants for sweet, sour, salt, and bitter and only a fraction of what you taste happens in your mouth. As Stuckey explains how our five senses work together to form “flavor perceptions,” she tells intriguing stories about people who have lost the sense of smell or taste and the unexpected ways their experience of food changes as a result. You’ll learn why kids (and some adults) turn up their noses at Brussels sprouts and broccoli, how salt makes grapefruit sweet, and why you drink your coffee black while your spouse loads it with cream and sugar.
Stuckey also provides eye-opening experiments in which you can discover your unique “taster type” and learn why you react instinctively to certain foods, in particular why your response to bitterness is unique. You’ll find ways to improve your ability to discern flavors, detect ingredients, and devise taste combinations in your own kitchen for delectable results.
Taste What You’re Missing gives curious eaters, Food Network watchers, kitchen tinkerers, and armchair Top Chefs the understanding and language to impress friends and families with insider knowledge about everything edible. What Harold McGee did for the science of cooking Barb Stuckey does for the science of taste in Taste What You’re Missing, a calorie-free way to get more pleasure from every bite.
Barb Stuckey is a professional food developer who leads the marketing, food trend tracking, and consumer research functions at Mattson, North America’s largest independent developer of new foods and beverages. She and her HyperTaster fiancé divide their time between San Francisco and Healdsburg, in Northern California’s wine country.
“Barb Stuckey’s book makes the complicated science of food and taste accessible to anyone. It is as enjoyable a read as it is a thorough summary of why ‘good’ tastes ‘good.’”
—David Chang, Chef/owner of Momofuku
“Taste What You're Missing would be useful to anyone who cooks- with or without a culinary degree.”
-—Peter Rainsford, Ph.D., Vice President, Academic Affairs, The Culinary Institute of America
“Understanding taste and flavor (and the difference between them) is one of the foundations of great cuisine. Barb Stuckey’s book is an excellent primer on the subject. Her enthusiasm for food and science is infectious, and she explains with clarity and humor (and some neat little experiments you can try out) exactly what happens as we eat. Great reading for cooks, foodies and indeed anyone interested in the sensory world that surrounds us.”
– Heston Blumenthal, chef and owner of the Fat Duck restaurant
"Simply Fascinating! Compelling! A page-turner. TASTE should be required reading for anyone who eats. In layman's terms, Barb Stuckey gives us the tools to analyze and diagnose our food neuroses, as well as get the most out of every plate of food we consume. I think if we were better tasters as a whole, we would seek out better, and yes, healthier foods for ourselves and our children. Barbara confirmed for me that there is truly no need for "kids' meals." She also convinced me to put a paper reinforcement label and blue dye on my tongue." --Carla Hall, Top Chef All-Star, Co-host on The Chew, and founder, Alchemy by Carla Hall
"A fascinating book that will change the way you think of everything you eat or drink forever."
--Kathleen Flinn, author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School
“This book brilliantly weaves the subjective experience of eating together with the objective science of taste perception. A must read for food lovers and cooks alike. You'll never look at a plate of food the same again.” --Ming Tsai, Chef/Owner Blue Ginger, Host/Executive Producer “Simply Ming”
A helpful, systematic approach to developing a discriminating palate."