I’m so enjoying this book!!! Christian again:
“The first tastes we like as newborns are sweet and comforting, and only slowly do our physiology and experiences help us to appreciate salty, acidic, bitter and umami tastes. The mouth needs training and developing just as muchy as our legs, arms and brains. Depending on how a mouth is constructed and the opportunities for education it is given when quite young, it may never appreciate a great deal of what is put into it except for sugary-sweet foods.
Thus, a sweetness-fixated mouth is essentially an infantile mouth, and this is what so easily leads to obesity, caused by eating too much of too many sugars and sweet fats and oils in search of satisfaction. A sweetness-fixated tongue is often a slow or [-p.24] insensitive tongue too, and what satisfaction it gains from eating can be based more on a heightened appreciation of mouth-feel than of flavour or taste. Once identified as such, most immature tongues can be retrained to sensitise other taste areas.” (pp.23-24)
“Before sugar became widely grown and available, sweetness came most easily from honey, which is essentially only sucrose in simpler forms. Although eaten gratefully, honey and naturally sweet vegetables and summer fruits always brought with them the mixed pleasures of a spectrum of other flavours. In winter a snow-chilled parsnip is sweet because the temperature has converted its starch into sugar. It was relied upon to add sweetness to all manner of dishes – and might even have been fried and served as a sweetmeat. Mature main-crop carrots, too, added important sweetness in both sweet and savoury dishes. But neither parsnip, carrot nor honey could be added to other food without changing its essential flavour.
The introduction of sugar, refined to be white and tasting of nothing much but sweetness, meant cooks might at last sweeten and heighten flavours without radically changing the foods by adding other flavours. Less refined sugars, the ‘brown’ sugars, had as much sweetness plus new darker undertones, giving cooks new tools and giving diners new experiences; they are flavoured variations of sweetness but without vegetable or honey flavours.” (p.24)
Ref: Glynn Christian (2008) How to Cook Without Recipes. Portico Books: London