The Flavors of Food

The Flavors of Food -

The distinctive flavors of different foods are attributable to a variety of causes.

In fresh meats, they are due to the extractives which in varying proportions form part of the protein. Some "game" birds are especially rich in that respect - hence the high esteem in which they are held by epicures. The flavors of fruits and vegetables are usually attributable to similar components. The extractives are generally enhanced by the process of cooking - and in meats, birds, etc., are also developed by "aging" in a greater or less degree.

In many other foods, the distinctive flavor, instead of being an essential part of their natural development, hinges on the special methods of their commercial preparation. In hams and other smoked meats, it is largely due to the acid in the wood smoke in which they are suspended. In black tea, cheese, butter and many other examples, it is the result of chemical changes brought about by the growth and respiration of microscopic plants during manufacture - for all plants, whether microscopic or visible, breathe as do human beings, producing the same chemical change of the oxygen of the air into carbon-dioxide.

The difference between green and black tea is attributable chiefly to the fact that for the latter the tea leaves are allowed to ferment before they are "fired" or roasted. This, translated in the light of modern botanical knowledge, means that the microscopic plants in the moist leaves are permitted to respire for a time before they are killed by the heat applied in the firing machines.

The difference between Camembert and Swiss cheese - or any other varieties - is similarly the difference in the microscopic plants which respired within them during the process of ripening - plants furthermore that can be transplanted in spite of their protein.

See articles on BACTERIA, MOLD and YEAST.

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