Sometime back I came across an article at Science Daily that got me thinking about the impact of our little microbial friends on the flavor of our favorite foods and beverages. The authors of the study noted that certain normally tasteless compounds, when exposed to microbes that are naturally present in the mouth and/or throat, are transformed into aromatic flavor compounds, in some cases even giving off the characteristic odor of a particular food in the aftertaste.
Thinking about the variety of foods and beverages that I’ve tasted over my life, some with magnificent, long-lasting finishes, and others that seem to spiral so quickly to an unsatisfying demise, it makes me wonder to what extent the microbes in my mouth had any say in the matter. There are countless implications to all of this, including whether it is possible to optimize conversion by the microbes by altering the flavorless reactant concentration, but also potentially by altering environmental conditions in the mouth (e.g., pH, calcium or sodium ion concentration, amount of saliva, etc.).
That’s lots of food for thought, so to speak, and speaking of thought, who knows, maybe they’ll find out that there are microbes that change the way we think as well.