Why do some foods (especially sweet ones) taste fine when cold, but others (especially savoury/salty ones) taste best when hot?


Why do some foods (especially sweet ones) taste fine when cold, but others (especially savoury/salty ones) taste best when hot?

In: Chemistry

Many, many reasons, I’ll just mention a few common ones:

– Lipid viscosity. That is to say – how solid the fats are. Animal fats are typically solid at room temperature and colder, but liquid or partially liquid when hot. Therefore, the temperature of fat has a huge impact on the texture of it. You can try this at home: cook some bacon, then poor the fat into a bowl and wait for it to cool. Then, take a spoon and eat some of it. Pretty disgusting, right? Even though hot bacon grease on bread is fucking delicious.

– Nerve cell activity. Every biological process is simply a chemical reaction, and chemical reactions happen faster at higher temperatures. The hotter the food is, the more the taste-causing particles in the food will react with the taste-particle-detecting-molecules on your tongue.

– Nose tasting. We actually have more taste buds in our nose than in our mouth. Well, not exactly, but they’re very similar. A big part of tasting food is the *smell* of food. And the spell of food relies on taste-causing particles vaporising – separating from the solid food and distributing themselves through the air and up into your nose. This happens more readily when the temperature of the food is higher, because hot molecules have more movement in them than cold molecules.

– Expectations. If you expect food to be hot and it’s not, that’s surprising and unpleasant. You more often expect savoury food to be hot.

– Condensation. Water is, as you may be aware, wet. However, when water gets very hot, water stops being wet – it becomes a gas instead. As the temperature decreases though, the water stops being a gas and becomes a wet liquid again. This wet liquid, commonly known as “water”, soaks itself through many foodstuffs and makes those foodstuffs wet. Thus, food that is supposed to be crispy tends to become soggy when it’s cold, especially if that food has quite a lot of water in it already, such as deep-fried chicken.

Savoury foods tend to rely on combinations of many different tastes. If any one of these things changes at cold temperatures, the food becomes kinda awful when it gets cold. Sweet food however relies on only one dominant chemical: Sugar. As it happens, sugar behaves pretty similarly when hot as it does when cold. This is because it is dissolves in water, which means that the only “taste” aspect of sugar is how it reacts chemically with your taste buds. There’s no texture involved. And if it gets wet? Well then, big deal. Your taste buds only care about the chemicals present, so hot and cold sugar are all the same to them. All temperature is doing is stimulating your temperature-sensing nerves. It’s not having a significant effect on the taste of the sugars themselves.