(From to taste). The taste.
Upon the tongue, towards the apex and sides under the skin, are obtuse papillae of various figures; prominent in the tongue of a living person, when applied to the object of taste; but not discovered in the dead body. They rise from the nervous substance which covers the muscular flesh in the tongue, pass through the perforations of the corpus reticulare, as in the skin, and are covered with small vaginae, formed by the exterior membrane of the tongue. These vaginae are seemingly porous, that the substance tasted may, by pressure, be applied to them. Bellini has shown that these papillae only are the medium of taste; and that the other parts of the mouth, tongue, and palate, contribute nothing to it, except as resisting surfaces to assist the application. It is, however, highly probable that the back part of the palate is also sensible of the impression which conveys the taste.
It hath been generally said, that salts are the true objects of taste; and that the diversity of taste is owing to the different figures which are natural to salts: but Haller, on the contrary, asserts, that the reason of the diversity of flavours seems to reside in the intrinsic fabric or apposition of their elements, which do not fall under the scrutiny of the senses. In general, he thinks whatever contains less salt than the saliva is insipid; but that the nature or disposition of the covering with which the papillae are clothed, together with that of the juices, and of the aliments lodged in the stomach, have a considerable share in determining the sense of taste; so that the same flavour does not equally please or affect the organ in all ages alike, nor persons of the same temperatures, nor even the same person at different times. In fact, the sense of taste is more closely connected with the state of the stomach than is generally supposed; and the languor or indisposition of that organ destroys or depraves the sense of taste. Other nervous affections have a similar effect. In fevers the taste is depraved or lost, and the substance of the papillae, or of their vaginae, seems to be organically changed; for with whatever care the tongue is cleaned, it never attains a healthy appearance.
In general, the taste determines what aliment is salutary; for the most part, whatever offends the taste is injurious in the stomach. See Haller's Physiology, in his Lecture of the Taste.