Sunday Papers: Accounting for Taste

“There are five elements: earth, water, air, fire and garlic,” an old sign hanging in London’s famous Borough Market once said, quoting French chef Louis Diat. Perhaps ancient European hunter-gatherers would have agreed.

Archaeologists recently dug up evidence of spices in fossilised pots from up to 6,100 years ago. Traces of garlic mustard seeds lined the insides of pots at three sites in what are now Denmark and Germany.
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I have blood on my hands and only some of it is mine. The rest has splattered from the scores of mosquitoes that, over the past eight weeks, I have become proficient at killing. An engorged mosquito can hold three times her body weight in blood meals. Her own blood is a clear-ish fluid called haemolymph. It sloshes around her body, churned by a heart in the middle of the gut, just above where she stores your siphoned blood. Humans have discovered over 3,500 species of mosquito and I hate every single one.
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The whiff of a particular food during a particular scene of Pixar’s Ratatouille transports a particular character back to childhood. Aromas evoke a subtle blend of memory and emotion and this scene always brings a little tear to my otherwise gristled, Saharan eyes. I won’t spoil it with particulars – go watch the film (warning: the food in the Blu-ray version looks so realistic, you’ll grow hungry within the first few minutes).

Food is an experience and flavour its essence. Flavour emerges from your senses and expectations, from swirling combinations of smell, sight, sound, feel and, of course, taste.
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