There is so many angles that you can perceive taste. Even if you don't think about it, taste for food is playing an important role all the time. Memory, psychology, physically, preference, culturally, gender, habits and so on...
Here is the first question for you. What order would you say your senses play when eating?
According to science you can't taste if you are impaired to smell, like when you are pinching your nostrils.
Most of us, specially Chefs, we tend to smell before trying anything. It is completely related. It is shocking when you taste something that doesn't match the smell, isn't?
Before, it was thought that we can distinguish just four main flavours. Sweet, Salty, Bitter and Sour. Japanese add it one more "umami" or savoury taste. To add to that I have my theory about taste which is: you can link any opposite flavour as long as you have a third component that can link the other two.
In the eating experience include taste! Yes but what about texture, temperature, sensation, emotions, memories.
When you eat a chilli what do you experience?
I will tell you in my experience, let's say I bite a fresh jalapeño, the first impression it feels cold, leathery skin. Once i bite and cut through the flesh, I feel instant heat. Very localised where the juices and oils from the chilli has landed. Instantly little needles start poking my tongue, and the game of pain and pleasure begins. I can feel a rush of heat going up my head and most of the time my nose will start sweating. While I am biting the rest of the chilli I can feel the sides feeling up with saliva, my guess if the firemen trying to put off fire. As well helping for the digestion of such a hostile fruit. Once my mouth have been covered with that pleasantly painful heat, there is mental debate of I have to stop or I want more. When I finally swallowed the little piece of chilli I can follow the trail of heat going down always to my stomach.
The point of this detailed experience is so I do not take for granted every bite I take. I can analyse each element of a dish. That is not including all the other senses, what you are perceiving around you:
What do you see?
Are you alone or with company?
Is hot or cold? (Weather)
Is it day light or night?
Is it the first time you have eating that particular ingredient?
Does it take you back to your childhood?
Does it make you feel happy?
Would you eat it again?
Are you actually enjoying it or is just food?
When I put thought on it it becomes an extremely complex experience. It just makes me wonder this is the point where what I taste become part of a personal recollection of thousands of meals or agreeing what I have enjoyed against what I haven't. It has been as well a moment of giving second chances to mediocre or bad meals and try again until saying yes I actually that is not bad. An example was my first shawarma kebab, it had so much fresh sliced onion and garlic in the hummus that it was horrible. Now I can tell you, I love hummus, I love kebabs.
Furthermore, I will give you another example completely opposite, just playing by perception. When I was around 10 years old my father brought this delicate, special and secret meat. He prepared it, and as a good Mexican we made tacos with this "special" meat. I am telling you the texture was interesting enough to say that it had texture it self. It wasn't the kind that melts in your mouth. No, it had some sort of fibres with some sort of crunch. The rest of the meat was buttery, packed of flavour; not too strong, not too bloody, it just felt like water to a thirsty man. It just fit my young and naive palate.
When I finished 3 little tacos, my father looked so proud of me and said, do you want to know what you are eating? I thought, well yeah!!! I have a new favourite thing to eat. He answered "creadillas" (I looked around, there is no translation for this word). So, I asked what is "creadillas". He answered: the bull's testicles. I fought for them after the Bull fight. Right now and there on the table, all the food came back to the plate. Perfect example for the game of Perception.