Go Amuse Your Bouche

The lovely French term amuse-bouche signifies a bite-size appetizer, or hors d’œuvre, and literally translates as “mouth amuser.” And there is a place for such things, among people who enjoy dining with sophistication and restraint.

The trouble is, a very large segment of society has devolved into a bunch of chronic mouth-amusers. We seem to constantly be stuffing food into our mouths, washed down with sugar-sweetened, beverages, which are very mouth-amusing because of the fizz. Eating is a sensual experience that, like any other, can be taken too far.

How to amuse a bouche

The tastes we know as sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (savory) are detected by several different kinds of taste buds located on various areas of the tongue. A human has between 2,000 and 10,000 of them. They disappear with age, so babies have more taste buds, which may help explain picky eating.

An article titled “Human Biology of Taste” says,

[A]s the food is placed in the mouth, taste, temperature, and touch receptors screen for quality and intensity, stimulating the appropriate saliva in preparation for chewing, bolus formation, and swallowing… Sandy, sharp, or painful sensations tell of the presence of potentially harmful materials that may damage the digestive system, while creamy sensations tell of consistency, physical safety, and the presence of highly desirable fats.

Various nerves are involved too, and surprisingly the descriptions of the taste buds’ functions include such equivocal phrases as “appear to” and “are thought to,” which implies that mysteries still abound. Food scientists are in the business of unraveling these puzzles, in hopes of selling more of their products to more people.

In his book Overweight: What Kids Say, Dr. Pretlow refers to a documentary film called “Snack Food Tech,” which in 2007 described how a corn chip has a thin layer of flavoring applied to only one side because the whole point is to deliver a sensation that peaks fast and fades fast. Then, the consumer applies a notorious behavior known as the hand-to-mouth motion, and gobbles down more chips.

In another passage from the book, an 18-year-old girl who communicated with Dr. Pretlow’s interactive website W8Loss2Go is quoted as saying,

I would constantly eat so much even though i was full. it was like my mouth wanted it, just to taste it and my stomach didn’t. I got tired of saying i would lose weight…

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Human Biology of Taste,” NIH.gov, May 2013
Image by WordRidden/CC BY 2.0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAQs and Media Requests: Click here…

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources