It doesn’t take a master’s degree to know how to eat, let alone enjoy food. Anyone with a working mouth can figure out how something tastes, even if they’re not quite specific. Then again, that’s where the scientists come in; they’ve previously divided taste into categories such as sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory (or umami), but recent studies suggest that those five might not be enough. As such, there’s a call for a new taste classification: oleogustus.
The name doesn’t quite roll of the tongue, but the idea behind it is simple. The tests run by researchers at Purdue University in West Lafayette noted that the subjects recognized certain fats independent of the other five tastes, and regardless of the texture. Given the data from past and present research, it’s known that there are fat receptors in the average mouth; the issue at hand is that the true taste of fat regularly goes undetected. Part of that is because it’s typically bound to masking triglycerides — and without them, those fats register as something very unpleasant.
Current theories and culinary practices still value a relationship with oleogustus, though. While minimizing its effect is a priority in many cases, playing to it might also enhance a food’s taste. It may take some time before people realize the potential, but for now the first step might be to spread awareness.