The iconic and ever-celebrated chef, Julia Child once said, “With enough butter, anything is good”. I presume that just like me and a plethora of other home cooks, Julia knew this from her rich experience with food. But if the American master of French cooking along with a billion others can’t convince you, here is the science to back it up.
When you eat something, the molecules of food, also called flavour molecules in your mouth are “tasted” using the various receptors on your tongue. However when the food is high in fat, fat molecules bind with these flavour molecules and you enjoy the flavours for longer. Fats also spread the flavours across our tongue so we taste them better and more fully.
Humans also generally love high fat foods because they make you feel full faster and as a consequence you need to consume less food than usual to get that satisfied feeling.
As mentioned above, our tongue has different receptors for different tastes such as bitter, sweet, salty, sour and umami. However, very recently, there’s been some debate over the fact that our tongues have specific receptors for fats as well. This varies from person to person, however. People that are genetically more susceptible to tasting fats, only need to consume small quantities to get their food to taste better and for them to feel full fast. It works the same in the opposite way. Those who are less receptive to fats, need to consume much higher quantities to notice the enhanced flavour. It’s also harder for these people to feel full fast. Much like addiction, this can be exponential. People that are less sensitive to fats need to consume more. This may make them even less sensitive to fats, making them consume even more, and so on and so on. This leads to obesity so as wonderful as fats are, everything in moderation.
An insanely large amount of what we think is taste is actually smell. That’s why when we smell something bad during our meal, it destroys our appetite and makes us not feel like eating anymore. Because we can almost taste the bad smell and it ruins the flavours from the actual food we are eating. However, this also works in our favour. The same way the flavour molecules bind to fat molecules in your mouth and last for longer, those same volatile compounds bind to fat molecules and make the delicious smell of food more concentrated and pungent.
The way food feels in our mouths as well as their texture also affects how we perceive the food and how much we like it. For example, the brain interprets crunchy and crispy foods as more tasty because of the sounds it makes. Due to this certain companies will try to make their chips and snacks crunchier to please their customers. Desserts that are high in fat often have a smooth creamy texture like ice cream or mousse or milk chocolate. These coat the entirety of the tongue and provide a full flavour while also feeling pleasant. These foods also have a “melt-in-your-mouth” effect that I think we can all agree is absolutely stunning.
I hope this teaches you a lesson about never doubting Julia Child (or me), and more importantly how to use fats to your advantage while still using safe quantities.
Last Updated on September 27, 2021