|MadSci Network: General Biology|
Well Fiona meats do not all taste the same because they are all diiferent animals and each animal has its own unique genetic makeup giving it different proportions of muscle, fat and body composition. It even depends upon its exercise and feed. The ratios of salt, water, acids, oils, sugars, proteins and fat and the way they're combined all break down and combine in a different way upon cooking. The breakdown process of proteins is called denaturation. These then combine with sugars in the meat and begin to brown upon heating. Meat's flavor largely depends upon this crossreaction of sugars and proteins in the browning process called the 'Maillard reaction.' Also different meats have their unique flavor proteins known as 'meaty peptides'. The amount of fat will also determine flavor because aroma and flavor molecules dissolve in fat. This is why beef cuts are more tasty than chicken or turkey breast. Muscle proportion is another factor for flavor. Muscle contains compounds known as extractives which carry flavor molecules. That's why chicken legs are tastier than chicken breast which gets much less exercise, and why brisket is a tasty cut of beef. Of course cooking techniques are an important part of flavor. Those methods that preserve the juices of the meat will be the most flavorful. Marinating and seasoning will also enhance the flavors and smoking and charring add distinctive flavors to meats as well. However, well done meats may be less tasty due to the juices that are lost. Animals also lend their unique aromas to the makeup of the meat which contributes significantly to flavor and taste perception. The best example of this is that unique 'fishy' smell of fish. For more info read the excellent book by H. McGee called "On Food & Cooking". Hope that helps.
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