There is a science to taste that involves the tongue, the nose, the brain, and numerous other factors that are being studied in labs around the world. But on a basic level, taste is what inspires us to eat; it elicits enjoyment and cravings and makes us want more of whatever it is we’re putting in our mouths. While the scientists are hard at work figuring out the physiological processes of taste, we, as beings that eat as much for pleasure as for nourishment, can focus on what we know to be the greatest factor of all—flavor.
Have you ever had tomato sauce with too much bite or soup that needs a little extra something? When a chef creates a meal, she wants the flavors of each dish to hit all parts of the tongue and enliven the mouth; she doesn’t want dinner, she wants an experience. Sometimes, however, the experience leaves much to be desired because the dishes are too one-sided—too salty, too sweet, too hot, too flat… There are tricks to balancing these one-sided flavors, and with a little trial and error, anyone can bring a dish back from the dead. When your dish needs a little something but you’re not sure what it is, try these combinations to create a palate-pleasing meal: