Sunday, February 28, 2010

Unsavory Culinary term of the week: Gustation

                                ©2010 John Houser III
There are some food terms that when you hear them for the first time, you can sort of understand it without knowing exactly what it is. Meat emulsion is a good example. It obviously has to do with meat and emulsions, so if you know what those words mean then you can piece together a rough understanding of the term. Pretzel dog would also be a good example (I just added that because I like pretzel dogs).

Then there are food terms that unless you have a dictionary or a cookbook explaining it,, you would have a hell of a time figuring out what it meant at all. Gustation is one of those words. The first words that come to mind are gestation and disgusting, of which the latter is actually an offspring of our ugly word.

So now that we have those words in our head, we're thinking that gustation mean "gross fetus" right? Wrong! The word gustation means the act of tasting things. So something that at first brings to mind Rosemary's Baby turns out to be just an out of date word meaning taste. But taste is the most important part of eating. The physiology of taste makes up how we define food. The sensations of bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and umami make an onion taste like an onion and a big mac taste like.....well, shit.

The actual word gustation might be a bit anachronistic now, but its children live on in the terminology of modernity. Words like the aforementioned disgusting, which primarily describe things as repellently inedible or abhorrent, are used by most English speaking people on almost a daily basis. Similarly associated words such as gusto and gustatory are still in use but they are not used as much as in the past. Gustation may not be a word that you would use everyday, but it is definitely worth knowing if you care about food and cooking. Gustation is the basis for why we strive to prepare food in a way that is palatable to us.

So there you go. Another odd food word described. I know that in the age of Google it is easy as hell to just look the damn words up for yourselves, but I'm trying to use this as a forum to broaden your food terminology with words that you night not normally hear. I hope you enjoy this new segment in the blog.


1 comment:

misssamala said...

I thought of an unsavory culinary term (well, not sure it qualifies as "culinary", but...): "nutmeat"
heh heh.