|MadSci Network: Science History|
I must admit to failure in trying to find your book. It sounds like a fascinating concept, but a very boring book. There are thousands of acids and many of the common ones are terribly corrosive or poisonous. One of the most remarkable things is that anyone who undertook a project like this survived to write the book! I came up with one reference that might interest you (thanks to AltaVista) on
taste of amino-acids. But many amino-acids are not really acidic, because they have both acidic and basic parts (basic being the opposite of acidic) that often cancel one another out. Taste is, of course, one of the least discriminating of our senses. I am no authority in the area, but I believe that there are only a small number of different sensations that can be detected by the taste buds -- many references say only four: sour, bitter, salty, sweet. There is a lot more to flavour than taste. A large measure of the flavour of anything comes from the odour/aroma (sense of smell) and the texture (sense of touch). We are often told that all acids (and only acids) taste sour. The sour taste receptor is apparently pretty much a detector of hydrogen ions, and all acids produce hydrogen ions to a greater or lesser extent when they contact a watery environment like that in our mouth -- that is pretty much what being an acid means. I think it is a good idea for you not to go into the business of tasting acids for yourselves. But I can suggest a few that are safe for you to taste in dilute solution. Citric acid is the acid that makes lemon juice sour. Ascorbic acid is an important acid otherwise known as vitamin C. Malic acid is present in apple juice and grape juice. Acetic acid is the acid present in vinegar. Lactic acid is present in sour milk and in some fruit juices. Do not go beyond those.
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