h a l f b a k e r y
I like this idea, only I think it should be run by the government.
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Generally, we taste things external to the tongue. However, it is clearly possible for the taste receptors to respond to stimuli that have nothing to do with what is in the mouth. Garlic breath, for example, involves molecules produced fron digestion which circulate in the blood. Likewise alcohol.
It can be tough to distinguish the lingering taste of something you have eaten and persistent in the mouth from something you have in your blood. I recall various efforts to toothbrush away flavored schnapps. Although these things are perceived as tastes, many must be smells given the limited repetoire of taste buds.
If this is the case, one could cut the mouith out of the loop. I propose that flavorants be added to IV fluid. One could then taste without using the mouth. This would add some variety for people who have had surgery and cannot eat. Some people live on food by vein and this would liven things up for them as well.
This approach might have unforseen benefits. It may well be that there are taste receptors elsewhere in the body used by the body for purposes other than food choice. Example: sweet taste receptors in the lung. Maybe this accounts for some health effects of strongly flavored herbs / foods?
Taste receptors in lungs
Appears to be bitter only [lurch, Oct 29 2010, last modified Apr 04 2016]
... and in the brain
Unfortunately, everything tastes disgusting to the area postrema. [mouseposture, Oct 31 2010]
||Your first problem was the decision to consume flavored schnapps.
||I spoke with a fellow whose "friends" put whiskey in his IV drip. He said he could taste it.
||There are a bucketload of receptors used for smell. But the body is very Macgyver with receptors; mutation might plug one into some new place where it is adaptive. One could look using in situ hybridization for RNA expression of various taste and smell receptors to see what other tissues express them.
||Thiopentone smells like garlic and often gives patients a garlic taste in their mouth, but they're never awake long enough to appreciate it much. I've often wondered what lamb would taste like if the animal had been 'put to sleep' with it.