Tasting Introduction

Since the 1990s Western specialists mostly agree on five categories to define the different tastes (sweet, bitter, sour, salty and umami), but there are many differing opinions. There is also disagreement about where we taste, some experts say only the tongue can taste, and the roof of the mouth has no taste receptors ... but let's forget the science ... it's the felt reality which is important for our feelings.

I experience a clear sense of taste on my lips, tongue, the sides and roof of my mouth, the throat and down the central area of my body. I'm sure there is a sense of taste throughout the entire body. After eating or drinking, there will be different qualities of this taste all over the mouth and down the digestive canal to the stomach. After a rich meal i can still feel the taste of that meal for several hours all over my body. (maybe a memory or illusion, but then animals would also have such illusions).

Food and drink overpower our own body taste.

Tasting Yourself

But it's the taste of our own bodies which is important to me. Our taste of ourselves is a 'constant' in our self-identity, and yet we are out of touch with it. We eat such rich foods, our own body seems boring, imagine this upside down condition: we are bored with our own bodies.

Our taste of ourselves is part of your basic feeling of being alive and our self identity, but it's so taken for granted we never even think about it.

Every day, in the modern world we eat such a rich variety of enhanced foods, the taste of our own body is bland by comparison, it's as though there's nothing there to taste. To start to get a feeling for this self-taste, it is necessary to explore the contrasts between the different taste areas in the mouth.

Use the tip of your tongue, and taste at the back on the soft palate, then up on the roof of the mouth, then at the front behind the teeth, then underneath the tongue, then at both sides, notice the similarities and the contrasts. Then taste at the front between the lips and the teeth, up and down and both sides, and (if you lick them it disturbs the natural taste), just feel the taste of your lips.

The very sensitive tip of your tongue will help to clarify the contrasts, but now, without your tongue, take a minute to sense those tastes directly. Take an extra moment to notice there are two particuarly flavourful areas at the sides, right back between the jaw bones. I notice a variety of different tastes. Then follow these tastes as far as you can down your throat and into your body,... as far as you can.

As so often on the subject of inner body awareness, there are many questions which i would like children to clarify. I need them to teach me. What is the natural approach to body-taste awareness?

I would love parents to ask their four to ten-year-olds year olds : "you know that taste in your mouth, how does it feel in your cheeks, under the tongue, on the roof of your mouth and on your lips? What does it taste like in the different areas, is it sweet or salty or like nuts – and can you taste anything in your neck, or in your body?" – and on 'this picture of the mouth', draw in which colours it tastes like.

I feel a vague sense of taste, not just in my mouth and digestive canal but all over my body, ... i try to taste it, (i imagine a big tongue tasting me inside). I notice a variety of different tastes. They are all very vague and faint but: sweet, salty, nutty, rich even fruity like prunes or rhubarb, and watery, and the lips are faintly like strawberries. I notice particularly that bony areas feel salty, compared to fleshy areas being sweet.

I find in areas of my mouth which are tense, i have no sense of taste – tasting is an interesting way of being sensitive to and ths relaxing such areas.

Please continue with Savouring Scents

Here is a dividing line.

Beginners Tasting Games

Food and drink offer a wonderful variety of beginners tasting games.

If you want fun, you will need a ripe lemon, an onion, a knife and plate, soy sauce, a small glass of southern comfort or a similar sweet liqueur, a small unsweetened bitter expresso, and a cup o'tea, water, or whatever is your habitual drink.

Taste just a few drops of strong ripe lemon juice, swirl it around, gargle, feel how in different places it's different strengths. The sensation on the roof of the mouth may be faint, but the taste is clear on the lips, between lips and gums, all around the sides, under the tongue, naturally the tongue itself, and back all the way to the throat.

Then swallow just a little drop, feel it in the throat, and down along inside the spine. Then do you notice how after a minute, a faint sense of this taste spreads into the cheek bones, jaw, the front and sides of your neck – (maybe something like an optical illusion, but that's how it feels).

With the lemon taste still in your mouth, drink a little bitter expresso, swirl it round your mouth, notice the effect, notice the contrasts. And then take a sip of southern comfort and notice the contrasts again. You will recognise that you have a sense of taste all over your mouth, including the roof of your mouth, your throat, neck and digestive canal.

If you're still unsure that the entire mouth can sense taste, put a little soy sauce on a finger, and without touching the tonuge, spread it on just one side of the roof of your mouth, (or anywhere else you may feel is numb) notice the contrast. Also, remember how toothpaste often gives a strong experience of minty freshness all over the mouth.

Please continue with Savouring Scents

Back to Chapter Six : Smelling and Tasting Exercises