Flavorings Provide Stimulation and Play

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
One distinctly human characteristic is a drive to explore and manipulate the world of natural materials around us, to change those materials to suit our needs and interests. And these needs and interests include the stimulation of our senses, the creation of sensory patterns that engage our brains. After the development of agriculture and its radically simplified diet, our ancestors found ways to give our taste buds and nose more to experience again. One way was to make use of plant parts that are especially concentrated sources of flavor. Herbs and spices made it possible not only to give bland foods more flavor, but to give them more varied flavors, to ornament foods and highlight flavor for flavor’s sake.