The sense of smell

Have you ever tried to taste food while holding your nose?

This is a simple test to spot how the sense of smell contributes to our food perception. With our nose corked, as a matter of fact, we struggle to recognise what we are eating, because food proves to be flavourless. This happens because oral and rhinal cavities are connected.

During the chewing, food releases small volatile molecules that – thanks to the breathing – arrive at the mucous membrane of the nose, completing our taste perception.

Which is the role of the sense of smell in some strongly scented foods, such as Brussels sprouts, salted codfish and truffle?

An agreeable smell stimulates the digestive glands and tempts us to eat the food, on the other hand an acrid smell could discourage our hunger. But be careful: even foods whose smell is not particularly pleasant can hide an excellent taste!