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Taste

Sweet, sour, bitter, tangy, spicy, each taste with its own particular flavor. Our taste buds are the nerve cells that help us determine the haunting, familiar, or nasty taste from our food. From helping us make that special dish for family and friends, or avoiding a possible poison, our taste buds consistently serve us.

10,000 taste cells located on surface of several papillae, which cover the tongue, palate, epiglottis, and pharynx, help us to determine the flavor of our food.

Each taste cell consists of small hairs that lie in the taste pore. There, dissolved food or drink binds to a receptor, like a key in a lock. If the key fits, then the taste cell sends a signal to the brain, telling it that this morsel is sweet, salty, sour, or bitter (the four basic types of taste cells).

As you already know, there are thousands, perhaps millions of flavors (tastes), but how could that be with only four types of taste buds? The vast combinations and strengths of each contribute to those vast numbers. Even if each of the basic flavors always had equal strengths, there still would be 256 different flavors. But with a hint of sour, a dash sweet, a pinch of bitter, that number increases to a gastronomical feast.

To read more about the sense of taste and smell, read In The Realm of the Chemical.