Irritating and sympathetic tastes

Sensory servings are a way to renew guest pampering

Have you heard of the irritating taste and the sympathetic taste? These are two "new flavours" that taste researchers predict will have a great future, especially in a climate where the green wave is upon us. This insight cannot only create a desire to eat more green and plant-based food but also give your dishes an extra edge. 

  • The irritating taste = The stinging, challenging, muscular and potent flavours that often provide a good contrast

  • The sympathetic taste = The welcoming, soft, friendly, and lovely taste that has an inviting effect

The new thing is that the irritating taste can give the food more weight and character, while the sympathetic taste can be the one that makes the food more teasing and welcoming. We zoom in on which flavors come in with what, an insight you can use when you, e.g., go into food pairing when setting the menu in order to create contrasts and provide counterplay and complicity. 

We do not immediately associate the irritating and pleasant tastes with what we call in everyday speech the normal taste palette/taste formula, which includes sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami. 

See here which products are characterized as irritating and which are characterized as sympathetic: 


In the list with the irritating taste, you will find, e.g. ginger, chilli, citrus, coriander, etc. 

On the list with the sympathetic taste are e.g. vanilla, coconut, apple, and pear, etc. 

Here, we delve into flavours not immediately included in the normal flavour palette/flavour formula, including sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami. 

The sympathetic taste 

It goes without saying that these are lovely flavours that we know, and they create recognition in your guests' enjoyment of the meal. Alone, they can do a lot, but they need counterplay.  

The annoying taste 

It does not immediately sound nice to talk about pain in the mouth and tearing in the nose when it comes to food and meals. But this is exactly what contributes to a sensual meal experience. Culinarily speaking, an enzymatic reaction occurs due to a high content of isothiocyanates (umami and good taste). It is a substance that tears in the nose and in the mouth and is perceived as vital, burning or irritating. It can be chilli, ginger, garlic, pepper, etc. Even in small amounts or combinations, they are crucial in a meal - simply because they positively and nerve-sensorily give us the "taste of pain" in an addictive and attractive way in interaction with raw materials, texture and overall flavour.  

PWF irritating and sympathetic tastes TIP! Take a gastro check on the menu
Fact about Ginger! There is a lot to say about ginger. Did you know that it contains antioxidants and can have an anti-inflammatory effect — i.e., inhibit inflammation in the body?* 

Ginger is part of a plant family with cardamom and turmeric. It is also appetizing and contains large amounts of the invigorating substance rhizome.  

*source: superfoods

Brief Facts: 

Sensory is the science of how the senses work - especially the sense of taste, the sense of smell, the sense of touch (mouth feel), the trigeminal sense (the perception of, e.g. the irritating taste/the sympathetic taste via strong/gentle spices, raw materials and contents), as well as the sense of sight and hearing are important. The senses bring us into contact with our surroundings and create good taste experiences for your guests. 

Source: Ole G. Mouritsen Taste for life 

Which irritating and sympathetic flavours do you have on your menu today?

Explore the four international cuisines

All four trends consist of exciting and flavourful food that will get you guests talking. At Santa Maria we know which new world food trends will get your guests talking!