The cultivation of the sense of taste underpins the aesthetics of ingestion, its economies and privileges.
Traditional Indic medical texts draw careful links between specific savours, such as bitter or salty, and the efficacy of foods or medicines. Yet the perception of taste is a product of cultural training- the number and character of taste categories varies widely from culture to culture. A key Sanskrit term for intense aesthetic experience- rasa- refers both to the immediacy of gustatory experience and the discipline of exceptional discrimination. Nowhere is this more apparent than among gustatory elites such as sommeliers or the wholesalers of medical plants, whose tongues decide the worth of substances upon which less sensitive lives and livelihoods depend. In this panel we invite contributions that link the disciplining of the taste buds, aesthetic evaluation of ingested substances, and the power that comes from expertise.