Flavour; wild, zany, memory-evoking, wonderous, and a great scoring word in Scrabble*! Flavour can serve as the magic ingredient in a meal, allowing foods to become alive with delightful intricacies. Foods, namely vegetables, evolved into molecular mysteries that scientists have unraveled to understand the acid, alkaline, and other chemical nerve stimulants (think of spicy hot peppers) that make up the flavour alphabet and stories of our meals.
Herbs pack a heavy array of antioxidants, scents, and tastes ranging from extreme sweetness (think of stevia and its active compounds) to moderately sweet and tangy (hibiscus), to soothing, fragrant plants such as lavender, to sharp and citrus-like herbs like the invasive lemon balm that can take over your garden.
Adding a touch of salt to a bland dish can enhance overall enjoyment and perception of flavours but too much and the meal loses its essence to the overpowering presence of salt. Fats engage the organoleptic aspects of foods. The sight, smell, and texture of foods completed with the addition of healthy fats make eating a pleasure. Brightly coloured and tasty berries, fruits, vegetables and herbs bring the nutrients that your body can use to optimize metabolic responses.
Hot peppers actually are interpreted by pain receptors and invoke an endorphin response -perhaps leading to why people participate in chilli eating contests or for those who add hot sauce to every meal.
Genetics may determine the perception of enjoyment for many different foods. Cilantro pleases many while others are distinctly repulsed by the flavourful notes of the leaves of this plant. Durian, too, is sought after by those who adore the perfume and flavour of this fruit while others are so disgusted by its scent that its presence has been banned in many public spaces and transportation in the countries of its origins.
Expanding the repertoire of flavours to include umami and somewhat bitter flavours can help those wanting to diversify meals. Umeboshi plums can be added to many meals for a more savoury experience. Aim to cook with only a small amount of salt and add a touch only after tasting foods. Enjoy the natural chemistry of your meals, keeping an open mind to discover new flavours and meal ideas.
*I had to pass about 5 turns in order to play this word, my opponent then played flavoury and I rebutted with robotics.