Taste, the subject of this chapter, is often confused with flavor, the overall sensory experience conveyed when we eat. In fact, retronasal olfaction (which occurs when food molecules released by chewing drift up through the back of your throat and into your nasal cavity) is a greater determinant of flavor than gustation (sensations from the taste buds in the tongue and roof of the mouth).
There are only four basic tastes (see images above): salty, sour, bitter, and sweet. The taste of any food is limited to a combination of these four flavors, as you will discover if you complete the activity Taste without Smell (Activity 15.1). The other activity for this chapter reviews Gustatory Anatomy (Activity 15.2). Our essay for this chapter discusses the interesting phenomenon of Water Tastes (Essay 15.1).