Two sides of the same coin that allow us to appreciate the beautiful and the ugly, as well as the good and bad things in life, taste and disgust are products of evolution and perform basic functions involving the evaluation of utility and risks relating to water and food. Besides flavours and odours, actions and behaviours also stir up attraction and repulsion. Taste and disgust play a role in protecting us from potential contamination in both physical and mental terms. Do they originate from experience or are they innate? What influence do social and cultural factors exert on our tastes? With forays into the worlds of art, literature, cinema and philosophy, the author explores the many features of essential parts of our lives.
Andrea Stracciari is a neurologist at the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi University General Hospital in Bologna and teaches Neurology and Behaviour at the University of Bologna.