[slide 10a Case 3Decoding the message

A mass-produced beef sandwich with stratified layers that mark an incredibly long prehistory in time. --The Nonverbal Dictionary


• Chemical signs: mainly taste

• Sesame seeds: nutty flavor primates crave

• Cooked beef: furans, pyrones, and other carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules provide complex onion, chocolate, nutty, fruity, and caramel-like tastes we prefer to bland taste of uncooked flesh

• Pickles: add texture and primary sour taste

• Lettuce: soothing properties of magnesium

• Onions: volatile sulphur compounds

• Sauce: adds moisture; variant of thousand-island dressing (salad oil, orange and lemon juice, minced onion, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, parsley, and salt)

• American cheese: sends salty signals to tongue tip. Smoothness blends well with coarse texture of beef. Flavorful fatty acids and esters of glycerol satisfy a natural craving for fat

[slide 10b] Evolution:

• Encodes potpourri of flavor messages from the past

• Bread and meat an age-old combination. Oven-cooked bread invented by Greeks and eaten with opson ("non-bread" veggies and meats) on top. Open-faced sandwich later evolved as pizza.

• From Dark Ages to Renaissance, thick bread slices (trenchers)

prepared with meat and sauce on top, paving way for double-decker sandwiches such as Big Mac

• Gherkins, eaten in India with salt or lemon juice for 3,000 years, came to Europe during Renaissance. Sour tastes enjoyed with lettuce since the Roman era

• Lactuca sativa (lettuce) preferred by the ancient Greeks above all other greens; aided digestion

• Wild onions used 4,000 years ago by Egyptian peasants to season bland meals. (Mummies included onions, wrapped in separate bandages, as carry-out for afterlife)

• Sweet & sour sauces have flavored meats for thousands of years

• Cuneiform tablets place cheese in the Near East by 6,000 b.p.

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