Learning how to taste
I am looking for any articles, features or books on how to appreciate food, covering things like how to test and taste things, how to try to evaluate flavours, how to pay attention to what you're eating etc...
I appreciate that this might sound like a strange request to a group of foodies, but please humour me. I've had a strange relationship with food for almost the whole 30 years of my life, and am trying to re-educate myself about enjoying food rather than just eating it.
I am sure this isn't something one can learn from a book, but anything might help me on this journey.
I know I'm pointing you to a competitor, but Janet Zimmerman, a food instructor on eGullet wrote an excellent 2-part essay titled, Science of The Kitchen: Taste and Texture. She starts with real basics, like differentiating taste, smell and texture and discusses flavors and flavor combinations in some depth. She has a good section on Umami.
Tasting is EVERYTHING. It is the key to cooking well and also the key yo enjoying food. Be open to trying different things. Go to lots of different ethnic restaurants. Try food and dishes you have not had before. Try mixing and paring things together at home. Someone was the first to put chocolate and peanut butter together. Try creating your own combo. I sometime put a little Dijon in my scrambled eggs. Play have fun and be open to new stuff. And always taste as you go. Now, go grasshopper taste the world!!
jeffrey steingarten, food critic for vogue magazine, has a book called, "the man who ate everything." in it he describes the steps he took to overcome his food prejudices and the systematic approach he adopted to familiarize himself with various cuisines. in short, he taught himself how to taste.
the book is a fun read. get it used from amazon. you won't be disappointed.