ANTH 3342 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Maillard Reaction, Olfactory System, Elbulli

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ANTH 3342
What is food?
o It’s a package of nutrients ingested by the organism
o Ingestion: the act of taking or putting into the stomach
For humans, this is facilitated by entrance through the mouth
Biological steps before digestion
o There are biological processes that take place before and facilitate food entering
the body
o Remember that cooking is not one of these because while important it is a cultural
o These involve two senses:
Vision it looks good
Smell it smells good
How is food determined to be acceptable to eat?
o What is food is largely culturally defined
o And we use the sensory data of smell and vision to determine whether something
is acceptable to eat
o The two senses provide important biological sensory information about the
acceptability of food
o It is important that this information is obtained before the potential food enters the
body so as not to cause harm to the body
o Sight plays an important sensory monitor for food
o Sight sets up expectations about the desirability of food for consumption
o Sight also provides a precondition about what the food will taste like or whether it
is acceptable
o For example orange colored food will suggest that the food will taste like oranges
o Also, green colored chicken would not be considered acceptable as food
Olfactory system
o Our sense of smell is extremely important and complements the tongue’s limited
ability to distinguish and process sensory information about food
o Smell monitors food before it enters the mouth and acts as a “classifier” of the
o Most food sensory subtleties are actually olfactory rather than attributed to taste
o To test this eat a food while holding your nose and then east the same food
without holding your nose
The Maillard reaction
o Also known as the Browning reaction
o First described by Louis Maillard in 1912
o The reaction occurs mostly during cooking but also during storage
o Many of the reaction products are desirable:
Vision: brown color
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