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Let the Meatballs RestAnd Other Stories About Food and Culture$
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Massimo Montanari

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157339

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157339.001.0001

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(p.78) Five Flavors
Let the Meatballs Rest

Massimo Montanari

, Beth Archer Brombert
Columbia University Press

This chapter explores the human sense of taste and how the ability to distinguish flavors has, since ancient times, been heavily associated with the experience of knowledge, perfection, and critical ability. Common phrases such as “good taste” and “to have taste” indicates that, among the five senses, the sense of taste in particular is accorded particular weight in distinguishing objects of pleasure, knowledge, if not aesthetic value. A thirteenth-century treatise on flavors explains it thus, that “taste alone among the senses is properly suited to seek out the nature of things with perfection,” because it is the only one that enters into it, merges completely with it, recognizes flavors deriving directly from that nature, and therefore reveals it. In this way, taste was understood as an essential condition for knowledge.

Keywords:   taste, flavors, knowledge, perfection, five senses, nature

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