New Books in Science

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episode 86: Rob Dunn and Monica Sanchez, "Delicious: The Evolution of Flavor and How It Made Us Human" (Princeton UP, 2021)


Nature, it has been said, invites us to eat by appetite and rewards by flavor. But what exactly are flavors? Why are some so pleasing while others are not? Delicious is a supremely entertaining foray into the heart of such questions.

With generous helpings of warmth and wit, Rob Dunn and Monica Sanchez offer bold new perspectives on why food is enjoyable and how the pursuit of delicious flavors has guided the course of human history. They consider the role that flavor may have played in the invention of the first tools, the extinction of giant mammals, the evolution of the world’s most delicious and fatty fruits, the creation of beer, and our own sociality. Along the way, you will learn about the taste receptors you didn’t even know you had, the best way to ferment a mastodon, the relationship between Paleolithic art and cheese, and much more.

Blending irresistible storytelling with the latest science, Delicious: The Evolution of Flavor and How It Made Us Human (Princeton UP, 2021) is a deep history of flavor that will transform the way you think about human evolution and the gustatory pleasures of the foods we eat.

Hussein Mohsen is a PhD/MA Candidate in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics/History of Science and Medicine at Yale University. His research interests include machine learning, cancer genomics, and the history of human genetics. For more about his work, visit http://www.husseinmohsen.com.

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