Kids Love Dr. Barton

Talking About Taste

by Dr. Douglas Barton, M.D., Pediatrician 07/14/2009

            “So what should I write an article about?”  My eight year old daughter and I were driving home from an errand.
            “What do you need to write an article for?”
            “My ‘blog about kids and families and medical stuff.”
            “Oh, then you should write about taste!” as she contentedly sucked on the banana split flavored Dum-Dum she had just received.
            “Why would I write about taste?”
            “Because it’s interesting.”
            “It is?”
            “Ya!  You know you can only taste four things, don’t you?  Bitter, salt, sweet and sour.”
            “Oh really?”
            “Ya!  And if you can’t smell, you can’t taste very well.”
            You see, she happened to also know that if you can only “taste” four tastes, then eating would be a very boring activity.  It turns out that the vast majority of perceived taste is really smell.  The odor drifts up through the hard palate (the roof of the mouth) to be received in the nose.  Some of the smell is also received before the food ever enters the mouth and is perceived as taste even though all the action occurs in the nose.  
            “So what else should I write about taste?”
            “You should say where taste is located on the tongue.”
            In fact, the tongue is very specialized.  It is divided into several parts.  The tip of the tongue is most sensitive to sweetness.  The sides close to the tip of the tongue are sensitive to salt.  The back of the top of the tongue is most sensitive to bitter flavors.  The sides closer to the back of the tongue are most sensitive to acid or sour tastes.  This is all your tongue is sensitive to.
            “So why did you think of writing about taste?”
            “Just because it’s interesting.”
            “It had nothing to do with the Dum-dum in your mouth that tastes like banana split?”
            “No, of course not.”
            And so, great ideas for ‘blog articles are born.



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