Why do we like different tastes? 為什麼我們喜歡不同的口味?

How does memory influence our tastes? And how can music make a glass of wine taste different?

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為什麼有些人喜歡某些口味,而有些人卻受不了?在本期《隨身英語》中,我們聽名廚赫斯頓(Heston Blumenthal)和神經學家查爾斯·祖克(Charles Zucker)對“口味”的分析。他們說,我們的偏好根植於記憶、基因和用餐的環境中,不過口味也會隨著時間而改變。

課文內容

Vocabulary: tastes 詞彙: 口味

What’s your favourite flavour? Maybe you like your grub nice and spicy? Perhaps you have a sweet tooth? Or are you partial to a salty, savoury snack?

By now you’re probably imagining something delicious, but take a moment to ponder this: why do some people adore certain flavours while others can’t stand them? For example, oysters. They turn my stomach, but some spend lavishly on the slippery shellfish.

According to celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, our taste preferences are strongly linked to our memories. Certain flavours might bring back the sounds and smells of a seaside holiday, or an ice-cream might trigger memories of enjoying a childhood treat. This “positive nostalgia” has a powerful effect on how we experience food.

Likewise, our surroundings have an impact on culinary pleasure. The same glass of wine can taste different depending on the background music. Blumenthal believes playing loud music makes people eat more quickly, while classical music makes them spend more money on wine.

Alongside memory and ambience, our genetics also have a powerful impact on taste preferences. Neuroscientist Charles Zucker from Columbia University believes all animals are “pre-wired” to prefer sweet tastes over sour. “There are no lions out in the wild drinking tonic water,” he says.

On a more individual level, our personal genetic inherited preferences are significant. “And that is likely to greatly impact how much sugar I want to have in my coffee,” says Dr Zucker. “It might be that I need six spoons of sugar to get the same level of satisfaction and reward that you get with only two.”

Coffee is also an interesting example of how our tastes change over time. Most children don’t like the maltiness of beer or the bitterness of strong coffee. But many adults enjoy the social reward – the relaxing effects of alcohol or the stimulation gained by coffee.

These are what we call acquired tastes – things we gradually learn to like – whether it’s because our palates become more sophisticated, or because we crave the social effects of the foods.

For me though, I’m yet to see the allure in oysters, whether social or epicurean!

詞彙表

grub (俚語)吃的,食物
(to have) a sweet tooth 吃甜食的嗜好
(to be) partial (to) 偏愛
savoury 鹹的
to ponder 仔細思考,衡量
to turn someone’s stomach 讓人噁心
lavishly 極其大方地
slippery 滑溜溜的
to bring back 帶回來
to trigger 觸發
nostalgia 對往事的依戀
culinary 烹飪的
ambience (地點、環境的)氣氛
tonic water 通寧水
genetic 基因的
maltiness 有麥芽的感覺
bitterness 苦味
acquired taste 後天培養的品味
palate 口味,味覺
epicurean 美食的

測驗與練習

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. How can memory affect the tastes we like? 

2. What kind of music would Blumenthal suggest a restaurant owner plays if he wants customers to finish their meals quickly?

3. What would you call a liking for red wine that develops over time?

4.Which phrase means: ‘in their natural environment’ and ‘without humans’?

5. True or false: The author believes there is a social reward to be gained from eating oysters.

2. 請你在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單字填入句子的空格處。

1. Walking by the beach in autumn ______ lots of sad memories.

ponders      nostalgias      triggers back      brings back

2. I’m very ______ grapes. I just can’t stop eating them.

partial to      partial     partial for      impartial

3. Lucas doesn’t have a very developed ______. He only eats bread and butter.

culinary      grub      palate      epicurean

4. Travelling to Thailand is a ______ adventure. The flavours are incredible!

nostalgic      lavish       acquired       culinary

5. I’m afraid I have ______. I eat dessert after every meal, even breakfast.

sweet tooth       sweet teeth       a sweet tooth       very sweet teeth

答案

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. How can memory affect what tastes we like? 

Certain flavours can bring back happy memories, which means we’re more likely to enjoy those flavours.

2. What kind of music would Blumenthal suggest a restaurant owner plays if he wants customers to finish their meals quickly?

Blumenthal says playing loud music makes customers eat more quickly.

3. What would you call a liking for red wine that develops over time?

You call a taste that develops gradually ‘an acquired taste’.

4. Which phrase means: ‘in their natural environment’ and ‘without humans’?

In the wild.

5. True or false: The author believes there is a social reward to be gained from eating oysters.

False, the author believes there is no social benefit to eating oysters, and no pleasure either!

2. 請你在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單字填入句子的空格處。

1. Walking by the beach in autumn brings back lots of sad memories.

2. I’m very partial to grapes. I just can’t stop eating them.

3. Lucas doesn’t have a very developed palate. He only eats bread and butter.

4. Travelling to Thailand is a culinary adventure. The flavours are incredible!

5. I’m afraid I have a sweet tooth. I eat dessert after every meal, even breakfast.

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