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Mystery of the Senses—Taste

Program Overview

Why do some people crave chocolate? Why does music make some people cry at the movies? How did kissing begin? Mystery of the Senses, a five-part NOVA special airing over four consecutive nights, seeks answers to these and other questions as it explores the complexities of smell, taste, touch, hearing, and vision. In this exploration, series host and naturalist Diane Ackerman travels around the world to investigate the science, history, and cultural values that influence our senses.

Eating sustains life. However, our tongues also enable us to taste foods, so we eat the foods we like; and our cultures assign values to foods, so we often eat as part of a ritual. In this episode, series host and naturalist Diane Ackerman explores the biology and the rituals of taste around the world. In France, a master chef divulges his secrets; in Mexico, a family prepares a meal for the Day of the Dead; in a Japanese restaurant, Ackerman looks into why some people consider potentially poisonous fish to be a delicacy; and in Connecticut, a scientist maps our taste buds.

Teacher's Guide
Mystery of the Senses—Taste

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