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Hope this question isn't too broad, but one area I have struggled with is developing the ability to identify and isolate flavors in dishes.

How do you train your palate to recognize those flavors? More specifically, do you have a training regimen you'd recommend going through to learn differentiate between such flavors?

Thank you!

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Interesting question!

I think the answer for most people is: we don't. At least not in any structured, scientific manner.

Personally, I eat very intentionally when I am trying to learn more about a dish and its ingredients. What I mean by that is I try to break down the dish into its component parts and really think about what flavors I am detecting.

I've listed some guidelines below. Consider how you can incorporate these into your everyday life. While some kind of focused training regimen could work (it sounds like a fun experiment), these are things you can do every single day to improve your knowledge of flavor.

  1. Eat lots of good food and be mindful of flavors as you eat.
  2. Taste often while cooking (including your raw ingredients) to learn about how flavors change, interact, and layer.
  3. Learn about classic flavor combinations from various cuisines around the world and try to decide what makes them work and how you can twist them.
  4. Slow down.
  5. Change things up and try new flavors often. You can't learn how an ingredient tastes if you don't eat it.
  6. Be fearless. People are often hobbled by preconceived notions. "Oh I don't like asparagus." Well that's all fine and good but why don't you like asparagus? For almost any person can find ways to appreciate almost any food given a positive attitude and some experimentation.
  7. Your palate is just as much about your nose as it is your mouth (perhaps more-so), so lots of smelling is in order.
  • This is excellent advice. Thank you! – dtlaw Jun 24 '15 at 2:13
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    Make your own tortillas, starting from corn. Make your own kimchi, sourkraut,jelly,jam,marmalade, cheese, syrups, ketchup etc. etc. etc. Vary the recipes in odd ways, See what you like. You'll probably find it varies from what comes out of cans and jars at the grocery store. – Wayfaring Stranger Jun 24 '15 at 13:54

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