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Apr 7, 2012 02:15 PM

Your opinion ... do foods taste different based on their shape?

Friend says baked beans taste different than the same baked beans run through a food processor.

In other words, would chickpeas taste different than hummus? Assuming the spices for both were the same?

I'm not entirely convinced my friend is right or wrong, but it got me thinking. Would a plain baked potato taste different if it were mashed? I think it might, although just barely so.

I mean I could definitely see pureed carrots or celery tasting very different on the palate than a stick of carrot or celery.

What do the 'Hounds here think?

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  1. For mashed up beans, yes. I think so. Mashed potatoes tasted different to me than baked. Pureed squash also tastes different to me than plain baked squash. However, there are other ingredients in hummus, mashed potatoes and pureed squash, at least as presented at the table.

    1. A man I know, who is from Chicago, vehemently swears that rectangular pizza tastes different than pie shaped wedges. Same pizza/same ingredients that are cut into different shapes = different flavor for him. Personally, I could not tell the difference but he will never back down on this one.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Sherri

        He's an idiot. Make him close his eyes and hand him two spoons of pizza, one with each shape. He won't know.

        Does he believe in science? Does he know how a human tongue works? Taste buds?

        1. re: Sherri

          In the case of pizza, there's a twist: rectangular pizza usually is rolled or shaped and then spends some time in the pan before baking. Depending on the time and the temperature, this gives a different end product. It can range from one with just a bit more loft to one with a substantially thicker crust and an entirely different flavor- even using the same dough as a round pizza made in the same kitchen at the same time. And beyond that, even both were put into the oven immediately, there's still the fact that a round pizza bakes on a screen or right on the oven slab, whereas the rectangular one is in a baking pan with raised edges, and most likely with a bit of oil or shortening also. Not the exact same thing.

          When there's yeast and baking involved, small changes in the process can yield a startlingly altered result. So at least in this case, I'd argue that the difference is not merely in the shape of the slices, and that your Chicagoan friend is very likely perceiving real variations in the taste- particularly in the crust- variations which go beyond something as simple as the order in which the various flavors present themselves to the palate, although that's another factor that would be worth considering in a discussion like this...

        2. Black beans in the Yucatan are always served pureed, I prefer them that way. My good kitty little veggo won't eat anything that is suspiciously square cornered. And he recoils away from pink slime, since before it had a name.

          Good kitty, my taster.

          1. If the food is prepared the same, but then changes "shape," no, it would not taste different. Of course, pureed carrots, cooked, will taste differently from a raw carrot stick. Same with boiled vs. baked vegetables. The baked versions have a sugar thing going on that comes out with roasting, which would taste a bit different than a boiled vegetable.

            1 Reply
            1. re: wyogal

              Exactly. Either one believes in science or doesn't. i.e. the biology of the human tongue / taste buds. We're talking TASTE, not mouthfeel, or texture. Or how it looks. Or what memories it evokes. TASTE. What hits the tongue and how it is perceived by the brain. Think blind-tasting.

            2. Could a cruller be a cruller without a double helix twist? How about the gazillion shapes of pasta, are they really all equal?

              9 Replies
              1. re: Veggo

                But, the question was about taste. The same food, but in a different shape. Yes, if the pasta is the same type of pasta, same ingredients, I think it would taste the same. It would be different in texture or shape, but the taste would be the same.

                1. re: wyogal

                  Gotcha. Would you order a flat waffle if it cost a dime less than a waffled waffle? Taste is often a symphony of flavors, not an island. How about that butter and maple syrple welling up in those waffles? You want it sliding off the edge of the plate?

                  1. re: Veggo

                    If the syrup slides off the plate such that it is not tasted in conjunction with the waffle, then yes, it WILL be different. That's not the question.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      That wasn't the question. Two foods prepared differently are going to taste differently. There is more caramelization going on in the waffle because of the way it is cooked, with the increased surface area. Like what I said about a boiled vegetable compared to a roasted vegetable. The question was about shape, not different preparation.
                      and if I cut up the flat one, as well as the waffle, with the same syrup and butter, yes, it would taste the same.

                      1. re: wyogal

                        I think we might be in this together, wyogal! I got you....

                  2. re: Veggo

                    RE: pasta. Yes. If you use the same dough and make it into different shapes, it TASTES the same.

                    Does the elbow shape direct the egg in the dough to a particular area of the tongue that best tastes it? Does the little ear of orecchiette inhibit that same direction and thus evoke a different taste?

                    The reason for the shapes is that there are functional differences in how the different shapes hold sauces. That's it.

                    1. re: thegforceny

                      I haven't disagreed with either of you, I have asked rhetorical questions. And I won't put the other foot in a gender-trap set by the nefarious ipsedixit!

                      1. re: Veggo

                        "gender-trap". What does this have to do with gender?