How to recreate the sensation of taste in the mind
In terms of difficulty, the gustatory concentration exercise has similarities with the previous one. Here, we are no longer obliged to free ourselves from the constraints imposed by the inhalation process of the daily olfactory experience. But that doesn’t mean it’s easier.
Let us remember that one of the purposes of this sensory training is to isolate perceptions and reproduce them individually – without the aid of several physical senses – at the mental level. Now, we know that almost all the senses participate in the sensation of taste: the sight of food, its texture (touch), and smell; the cold inhibits the taste centres, and anyone who has tried to eat in the dark knows that the perception of taste is very blurred in this case. That gives the idea of the difficulty in mentally experiencing the pure sensation of flavour without the simultaneous contribution of the other senses.
Moving on to practice, we initially use foods and condiments that offer a primary sensation, such as sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Let’s taste one of these substances and try to mentally reproduce the feeling felt on the tongue once the gustatory effect has worn off. After practising with these primary flavours for some time, you can brush up your acquired skill with more elaborate flavours, such as spices or foods of various kinds.
Help can be provided by the map on the left, which shows areas of the tongue sensitive to specific taste sensations. Umami is the taste perceived by eating meat, some types of vegetables, mushrooms, shellfish and, in general, what is rich in glutamate and perceived as tasty and savoury.
Once you manage to maintain the sensation of flavour for at least five minutes, you have reached the goal of the exercise.
With this section, the Step II mental exercises have ended.