Nutty Taste

Flavor sign. 1. The usually pleasant flavor of hard-shelled seeds (e.g., filberts and mongongo nuts) perceived by the sense of taste. 2. A taste cue, much esteemed by primates, emanating from the kernels of any of these.

Usage. We remind ourselves that we are primates when we add pecans to stuffing (e.g., in roast chicken), sliced almonds to chocolate-cake frosting, and chopped walnuts to raisin bread. Peanuts a. are staples of Chinese, Thai, and many other cuisines around the world; and b. are hidden ingredients (in powder form) in myriad processed foods available worldwide.

Chemical signs. Food researchers have cracked the code of nutty taste, which is signaled (in part) by 2,3-dimethylpyrazine, a flavor molecule found in roast beef (see MEATY TASTE) and coffee (see COOKING). Peanuts have a green note, as well, 2-propylpyrazine, present in some roasted coffee beans (McGee 1990).

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