[UCP Books]: Taste Matters: Why We Like the Foods We Do

“Our food likes and dislikes are the result of a labyrinth of influences. John Prescott is our perfect guide through this labyrinth. Taste Matters is of huge interest to the cook because it offers valuable insights into what is actually going on as we eat. But it’s not just for cooks: these pages will be of interest to anyone, whether you’re a parent looking for ways to get your children to eat more widely or a reader just trying to work out what makes us humans tick.”
Heston Blumenthal, from the Foreword
Taste Matters
Why We Like the Foods We Do

 John Prescott

Published by Reaktion Books & distributed by the University of Chicago Press
Publication date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-86189-914-9 224 pages; 15 halftones Cloth • $30.00

The human tongue has somewhere between two and eight thousand taste buds to inform us when something is sweet, salty, sour, or bitter—or as we usually think of it—delicious or revolting. Tastes differ from one region to the next, and no two people’s seem to be the same. But why is it that some people think maple syrup is too sweet, while others can’t get enough? What makes certain people love Roquefort cheese and others think it tastes like feet? Why do some people think cilantro tastes like soap?
John Prescott tackles this conundrum in Taste Matters, an absorbing exploration of why we eat the foods that we do. Preston surveys the many factors that affect taste, including genetic inheritance, maternal diet, cultural traditions, and physiological influences. He also delves into what happens when we eat for pleasure instead of nutrition, paying particular attention to affluent Western societies, where, he argues, people increasingly view food selection as a sensory or intellectual pleasure rather than a means of survival. Changes in the modern diet are very much to blame for rising obesity, high blood pressure, and a number of other health issues, and Preston seeks to answer the question of why and how our tastes often lead us to eat foods that are not the best for our health. Compelling and accessible, this timely book paves the way for a healthier and more sustainable understanding of taste.
John Prescott is associate professor of psychology at the University of Newcastle, Australia, editor of Food Quality & Preference, and executive editor of Chemosensory Perception. Please contact Laura Avey for more information: lavey@press.uchicago.edu / 773.702.0376.


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