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causing the disease. A comparatively modern example of the good effect of intense heat and smoke in arresting the fatal pest, is afforded by the occurrence of an extensive fire, in London during the seventeenth century, which destroyed nearly all the habitations in the infected districts and put an end to the pestilence which threatened to depopulate the town.
The filth of the capital had always been such as to shock the olfaction of visitors. Erasmus declined a flattering invitation from Henry VIII. to establish himself in the great city on account, as he afterward said in his letters, of the "filthiness of the streets and the sluttishness within doors. The floors, commonly of clay, are strewed with rushes under which lie unmolested an ancient collection of lees, grease, fragments, bones, spittle, excrements of dogs and cats, and everything that is nasty." Even in the Elizabethan period, the uncarpeted rooms of the great had to be sprinkled with liquid fragrant perfumes after the foul straw or rushes had been removed. Such filth in the homes of the rich and poor served as a medium for the pullulation of disease-breeding germs which spared neither lord nor peasant. It is plain then that the consequences of neglecting olfactive cultivation are sometimes likely to be of the gravest.
The gustative sense, one of the most precious endowments of the Creator to the creature, is granted to nearly all animated beings, but man alone is able to cultivate it to a high degree. Probably the first taster seeing an object, such as he had watched an animal in the act of
ingesting, tried it, but it was malodorous, nauseous, unsavory, so he rejected it; and finding one of another kind in which he perceived fragrance and sapidity after bruising it in his mouth, swallowed it because of the pleasing buccal sensation it produced. Upon a like happening is based the assertion that gustation is the perception and distinction of savory and unsavory qualities of ingesta.
To cultivate this sense advantageously, the student should have a clear understanding of the nature and seat of the end organs of gustation, remembering the part taken by olfaction and taction to complete the act of tasting. He should have correct notions of the savor and odor of alimentary substances in the crude state, and of the modifications of these savors and odors by cookery and by condiments. And should eat slowly, deliberately, thoughtfully, in order to be able to judge rightly of the gustible and appetising qualities of edibles. The preliminary information needed to effect this cultivation will be detailed in the following paragraphs.
A glance at the derivation of gustation and taste may be of service to the student in his use of these terms; one' from gustare to taste, and the other, intensively, from tangere to touch and formerly employed synonymously with to test, to try, to feel.
Come, let me taste my horse
-1 Henry IV., iv. 1. 119.
"Taste your legs, sir; put them in motion."
- Twelfth Night, iii. 1. 87.
In French the word goût alone is used for taste while in English are the two words gust and taste to convey the same idea; and therefrom is based a liberal stock of other nouns, adjectives, etc. Thus from gust are builded gustation, gustative, gustatory, gustable, gustible, gustful, gustless, ingustable, disgust, disgustful, disgusting; and from taste, tasting, tasty, tasteful, tasteless, etc. Then follow certain expressions connected with gustation and relating to special qualities, as sapidity, saporific, sapid, insipid; savor, savory, unsavory; flavor, flavoring, flavorless.
Strictly, to taste is to test, try, feel, with the tongue any substance put into the mouth with a view of ascertaining whether sapid or insipid, pleasing or otherwise; the perception of these characters being seated in the gustative center in the brain whence is reflected the general sensation of pleasure or displeasure.
Taste, like many other words pertaining to the alimentation of man's body is largely used figuratively, as in the expressions good or bad taste or simply taste or its want, in written or spoken language, in deportment, in dress, in art, etc.; "De gustibus non est disputandum” being applied to both the original term and its figurative usage. For instance, an aliment which is gustful to one may be disgustful to another individual. A particular work of art may give pleasure to a simple unskilled amateur and fail to satisfy the æsthesis of vision of a truly good judge of art. Some forms or colors which are pleasing to the many are offensive to the few whose visual sense is highly cultivated.
The seat of gustation is at the base and sides of the tongue; the base being the region of the caliciform papillæ and the sides the region of the fungiform papillæ. The exquisitely delicate filiform papillæ, disseminated upon nearly the whole upper surface of the tongue, being purely tactile. Besides ramifications of twigs from the glossopharyngeal nerve and lingual branch of the trigeminal, the caliciform papillæ contain minute gustative bulbs discovered by Schwalbe and Loven in 1867. These gustative bulbs exist also in the fungiform papillæ. Thus the chain of specialising bodies in the sense end-organs is complete, from the retinal rods and cones, the tactile corpuscles and Pacinian bodies, the olfactive cells in the upper yellow region of the nasal mucous membrane, to the organs of Corti in the internal ear.
Some experimenters have reached the conclusion that there are but two veritable savors recognisable through the gustative bulbs, namely: the sweet and the bitter, while others have identified three additional savors; the saline, the alkaline, and the acid. But all reject the idea of acrid savors which really result from the mechanical action of acrid substances upon the tactile papillæ, and ignore the so-called aromatic savor which belongs to olfaction. Nevertheless the concurrence of the tactile and olfactive senses is essential to perfect gustation and to the full enjoyment of delicious aliments.
It is an interesting fact that professional wine-tasters use olfaction quite as much as gustation in testing wines, and do so by slow inhalations in order that the vinous
fumes may linger in the region of the olfactive cells and abundant twigs of the nerve of smell; finally rinsing the mouth with the wine, that it may act upon the filiform and other papillæ of the tongue, to ascertain its strength and sweetness, bitterness or acidity.
The tea-tasters, also, use olfaction to determine the aroma of the dry leaves, crushed and warmed in the palm of the hand, before inhaling the prepared infusion; the final test being made in the mouth to judge of the degree of bitterness, astringency, and other properties discoverable by gustation.
Tasty aliments are often designated palatable although the palate is passive in gustation; its office being purely mechanical and serving as a hard fixed surface against which the tongue bruises the food to express and diffuse sapid particles for quick solution by the saliva without which there would be no gustation of solids. The other parts of the buccal cavity possess no more than tactile properties.
Experience teaches that the only truly gustible aliments are those containing bitter, sweet, saline, alkaline, or acid principles. Hence the free use of condiments of such nature in good cookery, and of pungent condiments in moderation to stimulate all the papillæ. Fats are gustible from their slight acidity and from the contained sodic chloride. Sweet and acid fruits are always enjoyable whilst the neutral are insipid, mawkish. Bread without salt would be practically tasteless. Distilled water is insipid but becomes sapid when a trace of salt or sugar is