Elements of Taste: Understanding What We Like and Why

Elements of Taste: Understanding What We Like and Why

by Benjamin Errett
Elements of Taste: Understanding What We Like and Why

Elements of Taste: Understanding What We Like and Why

by Benjamin Errett


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From My Little Pony to the Sex Pistols: An engaging exploration of why we love what we love
Katy Perry. Wes Anderson. Coldplay. Star Wars. Hamilton. Gilmore Girls. We all have our most and least favorite things. But why?

In this smart, funny, and well-researched book, Benjamin Errett brings together the latest findings from the worlds of psychology, criticism, neuroscience, market research, and more to examine what taste really means—and what it can teach us about ourselves.

Covering kitsch, nostalgia, snobbery, bad taste, George Michael, and what it means to be “basic,” this is the ultimate read for anyone who devours popular and not-so-popular culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399183447
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/17/2017
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,139,926
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Benjamin Errett spent a decade editing the arts pages of the National Post. Once they were finally edited, he wrote this book. Recommended pairings include his previous book (Elements of Wit) and a dry white wine. Maybe a Sémillon? He dips his fries in mayonnaise and lives in Toronto.

Read an Excerpt

Sour and Salty: The Taste of Punk

Excerpted from "Elements of Taste"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Benjamin Errett.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Aperitif: Ketchup Is the Perfect Food 1

1 Setting the Table: How All Taste Comes Back to the Tongue 5

What Sort of Music Do You Like? And How Useless Is That Question? 5

Embodied Cognition, or Why Warm Rooms Are Filled with Warm People 11

Are You Ready to Order? 15

Palate Cleanser: The Ultimate Taste Test 19

2 Sweet: The Taste of Innocence 23

Kawaii: The Sweet Society 26

Tasting Note: Coldplay 31

Cozies: Murder without Death 32

Bronies: Finding Sweet Solace 36

Tasting Note: Friends 43

Beanie Babies: Cultural Sugar Highs 44

Sweet Sounds 46

Tasting Note: The Notebook 51

Sweet Smarts 52

Palate Cleanser: A Brief and Painless History of Taste 55

3 Sour: The Taste of Rebellion 61

Sloche: Adolescence on Ice 65

Tasting Note: Mad Magazine 68

The Last Action Hero 69

Tasting Note: Indian A Jones 71

Sweet and Sour: Marvel's Magic Formula 72

Tasting Note: Blarping 74

Sour and Salty: The Taste of Punk 75

Palate Cleanser: The Wisdom and Foolishness of Crowds 79

4 Salty: The Taste of Experience 83

Salty Postcards and George Orwell 85

Tasting Note: True Detective 89

Salty Superheroes 90

Tasting Note: Drake and The Weeknd 92

Disco Won 94

Tasting Note: Trey Parker and MattStone 97

Salty-Sweet: So Wrong but So Right 98

Palate Cleanser: The Impossibility of Bad Taste 101

5 Bitter: The Taste of Repulsion 109

Coffee, Beer, and Cults of Bitterness 113

Tasting Note: Tim and Eric 119

Unwatchable Films 120

Tasting Note: Kanye West 122

When Bitter Is Better 123

Tasting Note: Futurist Cooking 126

Mr. Difficult 127

Bitter Art 129

Plate Cleanser: The Myth of Supertasters 133

6 Umami: The Indescribable Taste 139

Oddly Satisfying Norwegians, Part I: Karl Ove Knausgaard 142

Tasting Note: Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games 148

Oddly Satisfying Norwegians, Part II: Slow TV 149

Tasting Note: John Hodgman 151

Martin Parr and the Mundane 152

Tasting Note: Gilmore Girls 156

The Interesting Secret of the Dull Men's Club 157

A Job You Can't Lose 159

Palate Cleanser: Aging Tastefully 165

7 Harmony: How to Put It All Together 169

Harmony in the Kitchen: Building a Balanced Dish 170

A Tasting Menu For The Connoisseur 171

Harmony in the Culture: Building a Balanced Artwork 173

A Tasting Menu For The Nostalgic 176

Everyone's a Curator: Planning Your Cultural Meal 176

A Tasting Menu For The Dabbler 179

Anyone's a Curator: The Problem of Too Many Cooks 180

A Tasting Menu For The Adventurer 185

Someone's a Curator: The Genius of Diana Vreeland 186

A Tasting Menu For The Minimalist 189

Something's a Curator: The Limits of Technology 190

A Tasting Menu For The Enthusiast 197

You're the Curator: Let's Do This 198

Acknowledgments 201

References 203

About the Author 227

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