Chowhound Presents: Table Talk with Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh of Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi | Ask Your Questions Now ›

General Discussion

Does Memory effect Taste?


General Discussion 6

Does Memory effect Taste?

MGZ | May 28, 2009 04:28 AM

Have you ever thought about the effect of memory(ies) on how we perceive taste presently? It is well established that the olfactory sense has a powerful ability to trigger memories. Might it not follow that since taste and smell are related that perhaps there is the possibility of an inverse effect on taste? (Maybe there is real science on this, but, at this point, I am more interested in anecdotes.)

Recently, in a thread on the Beer Board, I noted a soft spot I have for icy cold cans of Coors Banquet beer (despite a more general preference for more flavorful/complex beers – Stoudt’s, Magic Hat, etc.). It reminded me of a time when (1) Coors was impossible to buy in New Jersey so it had to be “smuggled” in and (2) the end of a day in the surf. Upon reflection, though, I thought “Do I still like the flavor because it evokes those memories?” or “Is there a sensory memory that makes me enjoy that taste?” The latter intrigued me.

One example, familiar to many, is an aversion to the taste of a drink that was once consumed in too great a quantity. For the Mrs. it’s Jaegermeister. For many, it may be tequila, etc.

Finally, there is the White Rose cheeseburger (think over-sized White Castle with pickles on a hard roll). They were a childhood treat (a stop halfway between home and Grandma's where Dad would stop to either shut us up or fill us up). Today, I simply cannot be anywhere near Highland Park (NJ) and not detour to get one. However, if I step back to examine one, it’s kind of gross – very greasy, soggy, cheap cheese, bad pickles. Objectively pretty nasty, subjectively delicious! You see????

Want to stay up to date with this post?

Recommended From Chowhound