Many of us were taught that humans can sense four tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. But did you know that there are actually seven tastes? And ongoing research suggests there may even be an eighth.
This is the simplest of the tastes. Salt is actually the compound sodium chloride, which is necessary for the human body. That’s because it regulates fluids and creates nerve impulses. Humans perceive it as warming, soothing and drying. Any foods with sodium chloride are perceived as salty. Examples include soy sauce, celery, baking soda/powder, seaweed and olives.
Sweetness indicates the presence of sugars in foods, along with certain proteins. The sweet taste is pleasurable to most people, except in excess. It is calming and relaxing. Also, the tongue may perceive it as moist. Common foods that taste sweet are sugar, cinnamon, dill, honey, butter, wheat, almonds, carrots and avocado.
Sour tastes let us know that there are acids in certain foods. This stimulates the digestive system, metabolism and appetite, but, as an added bonus, can also relieve gas. Citrus fruits are the most common sour fruits. Other sour foods include yogurt, sour cream, tomatoes, vinegar, goat cheese, pickles and sauerkraut.
The bitter taste receptors identify bases in foods. Humans taste bitterness so that we may avoid naturally toxic substances, most of which taste bitter. Because of this, it is the taste we are most sensitive to. In fact, we are so sensitive that many perceive bitter foods to be unpleasant, sharp or disagreeable. Some bitter foods include coffee, unsweetened cocoa and citrus peel. Quinine, found in tonic water, is also quite bitter.
This flavor is often described as “savory” or “meaty.” Salt magnifies the taste, which is why adding salt to a tomato amplifies the flavor. Umami-rich foods include Parmesan cheese, miso, soy sauce, mushrooms, walnuts, grapes and broccoli. To a lesser degree, it’s also found in meats.
This taste is in addition to the basic five tastes that humans perceive. Astringent foods contain tannins, which constrict organic tissue. It causes a puckering sensation that may also be described as rubbery, styptic, dry or rough. In addition, it may be described as harsh when found in wine, or tart, in sour foods. The astringent flavor is found in tea, unripe fruit, nutmeg, rosemary, green apples, spinach and lentils.
The pungent taste is perceived as dry heat. It can boost metabolism and circulation, aid digestion and reduce body fat. Pungent foods include basil, chili powder, all hot peppers, ginger, peppermint, cayenne, horseradish, onion and garlic.
An Eighth Taste?
Since the 1800s, there have been arguments over whether or not fat is another taste that humans can perceive. The theory is that humans developed it in order to ensure we got enough high fat during times of food scarcity. In 2005, French researchers discovered that rats do have the taste receptor for fat. It is still unclear whether humans do, but it is clear that fatty foods like French fries are absolutely delicious.
Text by Jennie Tippett
The international avocado market blew up from 2012-2016. In fact, the exports increased as much as 30% in some areas — and no, it’s not just because of Millennials and their avocado toast. Here’s why the fruit (yes, we said fruit!) is so sought-after.
First: A Little U.S. History
In 1914, the US banned the import of Mexican avocados into the continental United States as a way to stop the seed weevil from destroying American farms. The California Avocado Grower’s Exchange began growing and selling the fruit instead. However, they couldn’t keep up with the demand of the whole country. For decades, only states on the west coast with fresh fruit markets were able to enjoy the creamy fruit.
What’s in a Name?
In the years following the ban, the fruit became known as “alligator pears.” The thick skin was bumpy and various shades of green, like the reptile, and the shape was that of a pear. The California Avocado Grower’s Exchange worked to change the name to avocado, thinking that the exoticism of the name would lend to its reputation as a luxury fruit.
In 1997, the US started to slowly lift the ban. But there were still hurdles to overcome. Many Americans didn’t understand how to properly eat an avocado. So, the growers launched a campaign to educate Americans. One of the best facets of this campaign was the Super Bowl/Guacamole Bowl recipe contest. The growers’ PR firm asked various NFL teams for their best guac recipes. The firm suggested that the best recipe might predict the winner of the Super Bowl. The plan worked, and Americans fell in love with guacamole. In fact, we consume 8 million pounds of it every Super Bowl Sunday.
Study after study confirms that the avocado is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Just a 3.5 ounce serving contains Vitamins K, C, B5, B6, E, A, B1, B2 and B3. It also contains other nutrients, like folate, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc and phosphorus. There are 160 calories in this one serving, with only 2 grams of net carbs, 15 grams of healthy fats and 2 grams of protein.
All of these nutrients lead to different health benefits. Avocados promote weight loss. They contain low amounts of saturated fat and curb hunger. The fruit improves overall heart health by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Avocados also have anti-aging benefits from being packed with antioxidants. And they even improve eye health.
Let’s Have a Toast
Chefs love to use avocados in recipes. Their creaminess is great for balancing acidity or spice. The avocado flavor is delicate enough not to overwhelm any other ingredients.
And, of course, there’s avocado toast. It’s a simple, filling snack or breakfast food that is quick to prepare and scrumptious to boot. Add salt, pepper, olive oil and whatever other topping you’d like. A fried or soft-boiled egg would be perfect. Or if it’s too early to think about making your own, swing by Market Table for a breakfast featuring our tasty avocado toast.
From the way sales have increased each year, it is clear that, when it comes to the avocado, Americans have no problem in making up for lost time.
Text by Jennie Tippett
Superfoods: the name sounds heroic because these foods actually do have the power to save your body! But what makes superfoods so super? Here is everything you need to know.
You probably already eat them daily.
Most people aren’t aware that their diet includes superfoods unless they search for the word on Google. Superfoods include salmon, beans and turkey, just to name a few. This grouping of foods isn’t exclusive or rare. They’re merely nutrient dense. Superfoods contain dietary fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Consider superfoods a treat for your tastebuds, your body and your soul.
Kale isn’t the only leafy green.
Superfoods rose to popularity after the world discovered the power of kale. However, other leafy greens like spinach, collards and cabbage are also on the list. Here at Market Table, we offer delicious dishes like our Kale, Quinoa and Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl or our Kale and Romaine Caesar Salad. If you’re interested in branching out to other super-delicious leafy greens, try our Bacon, Egg, Spinach and Tomato Bowl or our Hamm Farm Collard Slaw.
Market Table’s Kale, Quinoa, Roasted Sweet Potato Bowl with Feta.
Don’t let the “super” fool you.
You may think that superfoods are expensive and exotic fruits and vegetables. However, the term “superfood” can relate to anything that’s good for you. There’s no particular section on the food pyramid for these foods. In fact, most doctors and nutritionist consider “superfoods” a marketing term. Anyone, anywhere can incorporate these items into their daily diet.
Variety is key.
Variety can genuinely be the spice of life when you are creating a healthy lifestyle. From quinoa to blueberries to steak, there are many varieties of superfoods. It may surprise you that even popcorn and dark chocolate fall on the list. From egg scrambles to sandwiches to salads, Market Table‘s dishes feature a delicious variety of superfoods.
Market Table’s Grilled Chicken, Romesco, Quinoa, Sautéed Kale & Chickpeas
You’ll probably feel empowered.
Having a banana can feel refreshing, but not because you’ll gain Hulk-like strength. The power comes from your body finally getting all of the nutrients it needs. Plus, a superfood a day can keep the doctor away: some help with diabetes or weight loss.
Now that the idea of eating superfoods isn’t scary, incorporate them into daily life. With so many options, there are countless opportunities for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you’re looking for ideas, Market Table‘s recipes, prepared foods and meal kits — not to mention the breakfast and lunch options served in our café — will send you in the right direction.
Text by Jazelyn Little
With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, it’s a great time to try some Irish cuisine. Most Irish foods rely heavily on potatoes and hearty meats, so there are sure to be some comfort foods that everyone in your family will love.
A traditional shepherd’s pie is made with minced lamb or mutton, vegetables and mashed potato. However, when the dish originated, the meat was often whatever leftovers were available to scrounge together. Shepherd’s Pie was created to be economical and was known as a poor man’s dish. It has now become a staple in Irish cuisine and its popularity has spread across the globe. Try Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for a traditional shepherd’s pie.
Barmbrack or Brack
This traditional bread is also known as speckled bread because it’s filled with raisins. Barmbrack is sweet and is commonly served with coffee. There’s a fun tradition that goes along with Barmbrack if it’s served on Halloween. The bread has a hidden pea, stick, cloth, coin and ring. Each item has a meaning assigned to it. For instance, if you get the slice of Barmbrack with a ring in it, then it means that you’ll be married within the year.
Colcannon is a mashed potato dish with kale or cabbage mixed into it, and it’s often then served with boiled ham. There’s even a traditional Irish song dedicated to Colcannon because it’s a common comfort food in Ireland. Colcannon is also a part of Irish Halloween traditions, where it’s common to hide a ring, thimble or coin in the dish. Whoever finds the prizes gets to keep them.
The Great Famine hit Ireland in 1845, which caused for a lot of Irish recipes to use all parts of the animals in their meals. There are several recipes that call for pig’s blood, pig’s feet or kidneys. While it was common during the famine to use all parts of the pig, most Coddle recipes today just include sausage, bacon and potato. Coddle can include barley and Guinness, but this also isn’t as common anymore.
In 1990, an Irish man, John Lucey, set out to create a new cheese. When Lucey originally created the cheese, he named it “Aralgen.” It’s described as having the sharpness of a mature cheddar with the sweetness of parmigiano. In 1994, Dubliner earned its new name as commercial production began. It’s common to include Dubliner on a cheese board or use it to make grilled cheese sandwiches.
While not everyone is brave enough to try a traditional Irish dish like Skirts and Kidneys, there are several tamer options for those of us looking to eat conventional meat options. No one can deny that a meal of mashed potatoes, sausage and beer sounds delicious, so try making your own version of an Irish classic to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with a good hearty meal.
Text by Katherine Polcari