My intro to tongues was the word supertaster in the book Taste by Barb Stuckey. Each of us have a different flavor or taste bud composition on our tongues. Hence the word: supertaster. They have a full set of buds while others have bald spots. However this does not determine your perception of taste. Taste, as it so wonderfully happens, begins outside the mouth, with smell. There are billions (I may be exaggerating) of aromatic compounds to be sniffed and those smells contribute to what we sometimes mistake as flavor. If you hold your nostrils shut while eating, notice the absence of whatever it is you're chewing on. It is true though that you smell within your mouth. As we swallow our food, the aromas that have been released through mastication (chewing and salivation) get pushed up to our olfactory receptors. It's an amazing fact that those receptors are located a quick stop away, just in the nasal passage... this means the signal doesn't have to go further to be recognized up in the brain. No wonder why smell is such a strong agent for recognition. The only problem is we don't have the vernacular to match the memory of smell, we just have the context it is tied to... which is a perfectly good way to describe a scent. "This ice cube tray smells like my old apartment... sort of stale with a hint of lost cause." O.k. that's not the best example but moving forward. After reading all this juicy stuff about science and taste, I got really into tongues.
The first step: I casted my own tongue.
Then I gathered participants. One Saturday night in studio I even had a RISD security guard cast his tongue.
Next: I made silicone models of the tongues.
My Plan from here: made another silicone mold for culinary uses.
The possibilities are endless. One last tidbit. I found this website on the health of tongues. You can have your tongue evaluated by an acupunturist, or your doctor and they can tell you all sorts of useful information. Here is what I found.