Editing for Sensory Language Part 3 Taste

~ The Gustatory Sense: On the Tip of Our Tongue ~

Stick out your tongue and take a taste. Yum!

Our sense of taste is probably our most pleasurable sense. It is also one of the most complex. We have almost 2000 taste sensors on our tongue, but what we actually taste is a combination those sensations with our of smell carried by our cranial nerve and our facial nerve to the gustatory cortex in our brain.

The five different taste receptors on the tongue are the most basic, sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami (savory). It is smell that allows us to identify so many different tastes. When our sense of smell is not working well, then we lose much of our nuanced sense of taste as well. Our taste buds can also be affected by the taste of what we ate just previously or by a smell. Toothpaste can dull sweetness. The aroma of ham can make something taste saltier.

licking a lollipop

When to Add Tastes

Taste is one of the most forgotten senses in writing and yet when well-done, can make a scene more pleasant, more disgusting, and either way, more memorable. Taste and smell are linked together so often you will many times find these two described in the same sentence.

Places to insert a description of a taste

  • When eating
  • When getting something in one’s mouth
  • When feeling sick
  • When breathing in fumes, vapors, odors
  • During romantic moments

Some Tasteful Examples

Here are a few descriptions of taste from my upcoming romantic suspense Close to the Skin.

She could taste the sweet floral of the cheap wine. She could taste him.

The weight on her chest lifted, and she sucked in roasted air that tasted of hot metal and burnt wood.

She took a swallow of coffee. The bitter liquid trickled down her throat and pooled in her

stomach.

Taste Resources for Writers

150 Ways to Describe the Taste of Food to Children and Adults

20 Words to Describe Specific Tastes and Flavours

Quick English: Words to Describe Food


How often do you describe tastes in your writing? 

What smell sources do you recommend?

I welcome your thoughts and comments.


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