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Hit-Or-Miss

Without Sight Or Smell, Apples And Onions Taste The Same

It is frequently quoted that upwards of 80% of our taste is made up by smell.

So if you plug your nose and cover your eyes, the taste between an apple and onion should be indistinguishable, right?

The logic makes sense. When I’m home sick, congested and mucus-ridden, eating is often a mundane, muted task. All potato chip flavors taste the same. Chicken noodle soup reminds me of tea with chunks in it. When things are really misty in my nasal cavities, well, you can literally substitute apples and onions and I won’t be able to tell the difference.

In order to test the myth thoroughly, I blindfolded a few of my friends and had them plug their noses while I fed them apples and onions. To everyone’s surprise, the flavors were indistinguishable. When bit into without the onion’s outermost skin, apples and onions share an extremely similar crunch.

 

If you’re looking to indulge in this experiment at home, after you’ve gone through your trials, I highly recommend throwing in a slice of apple and onion into your mouth at the same time. We had an eerily interesting radish-like experience that I’m curious if anyone else shares as well. The flavors of the apple neutralize the onions pungency.

So there you have it, if you plug your nose, close your eyes and bite into an onion…it is indistinguishable from an apple…until your nostrils open again.

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Features

This Is The Intense Sensory Process To Become An Expert Taster At Bush’s Baked Beans

 

Have you ever wondered what it takes to nail the flavors that go into canned foods?

We recently went on a tour of Bush’s Baked Bean factory in Knoxville, Tennessee, where we learned about the company’s Golden Spoon Test. This was the test the Bush Brothers would give to any new prospect coming into the company.

Each employee faced a two-hour test where they had to pinpoint the similarities and discrepancies of texture, taste, appearance, and smell.

The prize of these trials? A spoon made of solid gold.

Cue mystical overture. 

I was given a crash course into the abilities to differentiate flavor profiles that Bush’s looked for in their candidates during these taste tests.

There were two types of people that would emerge from the fiery stovestops of these tests: discriminators and the affective panels.

Then, I was taken to a sensory booth that had a computer and a revolving window which was connected directly to the test kitchen.

The test began. I was given multiple cups of water, each with a slightly different flavor than the last. Some would be little more bitter, others saltier, some sweeter, and a few remained unchanged.

Sweet. Salty. Sour. Bitter. Umami.

These were the tastes I had to identify.

The differences between each ones had to be noted and inputed with the numbers marked on the sample cups into the computer. Once I was done, another round began. Each “taste test” was accompanied with a bottle of water, some oyster crackers, and a cup for me to spit in.

As I finished each batch, I would have to slide the used tray through the window where they were removed and a fresh batch of samples were given.

Once the water cup tests were finished, I graduated to tasting beans.

Like before, I was given multiple cups of beans. Each cup held about a spoonful of baked beans, with each flavor different than the last.

Not going to lie, it got tough.

I noticed some differences off the bat (some beans were spicy, some were sweet), there were times where beans tasted exactly the same and I could do nothing more than make an “educated” guess.

Finally, the results were in.

Like a nervous patient at the doctors office, I anxiously waited my results.

I failed.

Turns out I was one of the many people in the world that had trouble tasting bitter notes. This meant I could only taste extremely bitter things, but the subtlest of flavors would elude me and taste like nothing.

That explained why I came across so many pairs of test flavors that tasted so alike.

Through this intense exercise, I learned exactly what it took to become a professional taster. Sure, it’s not as eye-catching of a profession as someone who eats hundreds of hot dogs or devours hot wings on camera. But there’s something noble about being the first line of defense again bland flavors and overwhelming spices. These sensory experts spends hours upon hours eating spoonfuls of beans just so we can get the best possible outcomes from our cans.

For that, I have a newfound appreciate for the men and women in this industry.


Though I didn’t win the Golden Spoon from the initial test, I was able to get my hands on one based on this rad Honey Chipotle Baked Bean Burger I whipped up in their kitchen shortly after the experience. The famished crew were more than happy to chow down on such a Foodbeast-worthy item.

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Hit-Or-Miss Video

Irish Try Jewish Food For The First Time [WATCH]

It’s always an exhilarating experience when you try the foods of a different culture for the first time ever. For example, I recently had traditional Filipino breakfast a few days ago and it blew my mind. The Irish folks over at Facts are known for venturing into the unknown when it comes to foods from around the world.

This time, they’re going kosher.

Watch this group of  young Irish lads and lasses sit down together and try popular Jewish dishes. These include: matzo ball soup, tahdig (crispy rice), flaky bourekas (filled puff pastries), brisket, maror (bitter herbs eaten at Passover).

Check out the video and see their mixed reactions.

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Features

Taste-Test: Ranking the Best Grocery Store Mac and Cheese

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While restaurants around the world trick out macaroni and cheese with truffle oil or dumb it down into hamburger buns, true mac and cheese fanatics know there’s no place quite like home.

The mac that most people remember fondest came from a rectangle box with a powdered flavor packet that should never be tasted on its own, unless you’ve always wanted to ingest a neon orange lump of sodium phosphate. Mac and cheese has come a long way since then, as evidenced by the results of this taste-test of eight top national brands.

This may shake your macaroni and cheese beliefs to their cheesy core.

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The contenders: Velveeta, Kraft (Monsters University edition!), Annie’s, Back to Nature (Crazy Bugs!), Quinoa, Mrs. Leeper’s (…gluten-free), Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods 365.

Half of the recipes called for added butter, while the rest listed it as optional. But everyone knows when it comes to butter, optional means mandatory. Mmm, a stick in every spoonful!

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Ranking: 8th

Brand: Quinoa Mac & Cheese

Cheesiness: 1 — It doesn’t even taste like cheese, it’s more straight up pasta. It’s as if the macaroni shampooed itself with cheese sauce and washed it off. All that’s left is the smell.

Artificial flavor: 5 — The flavor had hints of paper and sterilizer, but was so neutral that it earned average marks.

Pasta: 3 — The sauce formed to the macaroni, giving it a rough texture that was pretty horrid. It didn’t have an aftertaste; it had an aftertexture.

Overall flavor: 2 — This is an embarrassment and shouldn’t even be called mac and cheese.

Final score: 2.75 — DON’T EAT THIS, EVER.

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Ranking: 7th

Brand: Mrs Leeper’s Gluten-free Mac & Cheese

Cheesiness: 4 — Creamy and full of flavor up front, but with highly diminishing returns. Each bite tastes less cheesy.

Artificial flavor: 6 — Turmeric and paprika do a good job of masking the artificial flavors until the stainless steel aftertaste overpowers them.

Pasta: 1 — Definitely the worst. Their slogan “keeping the taste in and the gluten out” is only technically accurate. It didn’t keep consistency at all. Damn you, rice flour!

Overall flavor: 2 — The fakeness of the pasta took center stage, detracting from a decent cheese flavor.

Final score: 3.25 — GLUTEN, LIKE GREED, IS GOOD. DON’T EAT THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE TO.

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Ranking: 6th

Brand: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Monsters University Edition

Cheesiness: 2 — Not cheesy at all. The sauce doesn’t envelop the macaroni, it just tastes like it’s been dipped in cheese water.

Artificial flavor: 3 — An overwhelming chalkiness that tastes like childhood, though it’s nothing like those knuckle sandwiches you used to eat.

Pasta: 6 — Cute, but you can’t really tell what these are supposed to look like. The added surface area gives it a chewy mouthfeel that helps make up for the lack of creaminess.

Overall flavor: 3 — Mostly water with a hint of cheese.

Final score: 3.5 — THESE DESERVE TO BE IN A WATERY GRAVE, NOT YOUR MOUTH.

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Ranking: 5th

Brand: Trader Joe’s Organic Shells and White Cheddar

Cheesiness: 3 — Although this uses real cheese, it’s lacking in full-bodied flavor and never reaches true creamy heaven. Also, white cheddar mac is the equivalent of Diet Coke.

Artificial flavor: 3 — Surprisingly astringent and harsh given the organic nature. Bitter cardboard aftertaste.

Pasta: 6 — Thicker, higher quality pasta. Nearly hearty enough to be a meal.

Overall flavor: 4 — The pasta is really the main event, but when you do get a rare pocket of pure cheese it makes for a satisfying bite.

Final score: 4 — WORTH EATING IF YOU’RE REALLY INTO SHELLS.

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Ranking: 4th

Brand: Velveeta Shells & Cheese

Cheesiness: 6 — The only non-powdered cheese tested, Velveeta lived up to its reputation for explosive creaminess, making for several blissful bites. Downside: the thicker cheese was quick to harden and overburden the macaroni.

Artificial flavor: 6 — You can taste a bit of the metallic packaging and an overwhelmingly synthetic dairy finish.

Pasta: 3 — Way too flimsy a vessel for such a full-bodied sauce.

Overall flavor: 6 — This is what your childhood tasted like on days when mom splurged at the grocery store.

Final score: 5.25 — ONLY EAT IF YOU’RE INTO HAVING FLASHBACKS.

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Ranking: 3rd

Brand: Whole Foods 365 Macaroni & Cheese

Cheesiness: 4 — Strong mouthfeel with real hints of cheddar, but lacking a creamy spark.

Artificial flavor: 7 — When you exhale (make sure not to wait, à la Angela Bassett), you don’t get that metal feeling. It’s smooth like a nice Merlot.

Pasta: 7 — Soft, enjoyable texture. Lots of give.

Overall flavor: 5 — Solid all around, but lacking that X Factor.

Final score: 5.75 — THE PERFECT MAC FOR THOSE WHOLE FOODS BRAND LOYALISTS.

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Ranking: 2nd

Brand: Annie’s Shells & Real Aged Cheddar

Cheesiness: 7 — The creaminess lights up your mouth. You can really taste the aged cheese, which will ensure this won’t stay on your shelf for long.

Artificial flavor: 8 — There’s a bit of a sour, moldy kick that earns it high points for cheese authenticity.

Pasta: 8 — The shells were just firm enough to support the powerful cheese flavor. Near perfect balance.

Overall flavor: 7 — The real cheese is a game-changer, but some MSG would really take it to the next level.

Final score: 7.5 — ALMOST FLAWLESS CREAMY GOODNESS.

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Ranking: 1st

Brand: Back to Nature Crazy Bugs Macaroni & Cheese Dinner

Cheesiness: 10 — This is what you’re looking for. So creamy and rich, you just want to keep it in your mouth for awhile before chewing. Tastes decadent. You could cover actual bugs in this and we would eat them.

Artificial flavor: 9 — The box proudly boasts no artificial preservatives or flavors. This is like the white whale of mac and cheese.

Pasta: 8 — Even the insect gimmick really works well here, giving the creamy cheese tons of extra pockets to hide in.

Overall flavor: 9 — It’d be easy to walk right past this in the supermarket and think it’s nothing more than a stale, eco-friendly mac alternative that only moms in Lululemon would buy. But think again! This is the total package. Perfect cheese, no harsh taste of science, and a cute-but-functional pasta vessel. The kicker? Proceeds benefit the Nature Conservatory, so your next mac and cheese dinner is basically a charitable donation.

Final score: 9 — THIS MAC AND CHEESE WILL COMPLETE YOU.

Kudos Thrillist

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Hit-Or-Miss

This is What ‘Sriracha Coconut Water’ Tastes Like

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Normally when you hear about people wanting to drink Sriracha, you figure they’ll just get what’s coming to them – whether that’s ten minutes’ worth of tongue-numbing pain, or the most mind-blowing experience they’ll ever have, ever.

And then out of nowhere someone offers you a bottle of sriracha coconut water and all your better instincts fly right out the burning office window.

Technically, its name is “Real Coconut Water with Thai Chili Extract” and not “Sriracha Coconut Water,” since it’s made with Thai bird’s eye chilies and, duh, not Sriracha ones.

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When we first heard about the stuff earlier this month, we imagined it might taste something like ginger-infused lemonade, with just a subtle spiciness that cuts nicely through the sometimes cloying taste you get with a lot of coconut waters. And if it were based just on the nose, that’s exactly what you’d get — spice, lots of it. Unfortunately, taste is where our not-so-spicy friend falls short.

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The drink itself packs hardly any heat, but what little flavor the chilies do add combines with the coconut water strangely. Let’s just call it “savory-adjacent.” It’s interesting for sure, and would probably work for a sort of Thai-inspired cocktail, or add a tiny kick to a mild soup, but it definitely isn’t anything we’d want to drink on its own.

Could be fun to trick your friends with though. “Hell yeah, I drink Sriracha. All day, err day.”

Taste Nirvana Real Coconut Water with Thai Chili Extract: Available in 9.5 oz bottles for $2.19 each.

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Cravings News

KFC: Five Layer Fried Chicken Skin "Skinwich" in Testing (Rumor)

Could this be? Let us preface we have no official word on this sandwich from KFC directly, we’ll let you know when that will come in (if it ever does). If this sandwich is indeed real, KFC is apparently trying every they can lately to top the viral success of their Double Down, bunless burger. We’re looking at a possible new test candidate at select KFC location in the form of the KFC Skinwich. Sounds disgusting, no? We’re actually looking at5 layers of fried chicken skin sitting in between fancy buns, topped with white American cheese and bacon (duhhhh). We have a few more pictures after the jump, but we’ll get more information on this sandwich as it is made available to us!