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Taste

Surprising Stories and Science About Why Food Tastes Good

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.

"A mouthwatering exploration of the science of taste ... Stuckey tantalizes readers with details about the intricacies of taste."

– Publishers Weekly

"Fascinating…A must for any food lover"

– San Francisco Chronicle

“Try following even a handful of these pointers and your enjoyment of food will increase markedly.”

– Chicago Tribune

“When it comes to fulfilling food, quality can be a substitute for quantity if only we know how to appreciate it – a skill that can be developed by reading this fine book.”

– Financial Times