Chefs seem to do a peculiar thing when they make food. They don’t usually taste it. They smell it. Of course, it is obvious why they do it. People don’t want to eat food that has been tasted by somebody else. And the major reason is also that the aroma of your dish gives you an idea of it’s taste. But we always take the latter fact for granted. No one ever asks, how does smell give us an idea of how the dish tastes?
Our tongue has taste receptors. When food mixed with saliva comes in contact with these receptors, we get the sensation of taste. Our olfactory (smell) receptors work in a similar way. The only difference is that these receptors in our noses can detect small particles diffused in the air. So our sense of smell proves to be an adequate replacement for our sense of taste.
To demonstrate this effect – try and smell boiling milk. Then try the same with milk that has sugar added. You’ll notice a difference in smells of the two. It is this difference in smells that chefs use to detect the taste of their dish without actually tasting it.