I think the notion of a connoisseur is interesting, especially when you start exploring what exactly it is that makes up a connoisseur. Someone who knows a lot, or is particularly well versed in a subject. What exactly makes one a connoisseur, exact scientific knowledge about everything on the subject, or first-hand experience? I feel like all of the articles, particularly Widdicombe’s and Fuller’s articles, explore this.
In Widdicombe’s “The End of Food”, she talks about a new product, Soylent, which is a product with a growing fanbase. The product itself is a grayish goop that has all of the ingredients that people need to survive for a day. The connoisseurs in this case are different than your normal ones though. In most cases, you think of a food or music connoisseurs, someone who has refined tastes or knows a lot about what they love. Well, the people who are Soylent connoisseurs could also be said to know a lot about it. The developer or the product itself, Rob Rhinehart, is a man who developed the product out of a need for inexpensive sustenance. He worked and worked, studied more, and eventually came up with a solution. But how did he come across his solution? It was a combination of both science and experience, and he’s not the only one experimenting. He posted the recipe online, and now, a myriad of people have tried to tweak the recipe for their own versions, and possibly an improvement on the middle. Rhinehart talks about how, in the beginning, the farts smelled awful for a long time because they overestimated how much sulfur, and Widdicombe talks about students who tweak the recipe to their own needs, like more active individuals or ones with soy allergies. They have to research, but they also have to see what works through their own experience.
Fuller also adopts similar views, but seems to focus more on the fact that taste can be measured and scientific. While at the end of the article, it mentions how there are street vendors who sell their food that they cook without recipes and how those chefs rely on how it tastes to them, the main focus of the article is on the titular robot taster. At the same time, it does talk about how, because taste is all about personal preference, the fact that it needs to collect data from taste tasters. But despite this, the idea of using a robot based on human data suggests that something as profound as taste can be quantified and measured.
Friedlander also talks about how scent is simultaneously a biological process and something acquired. Some scents, particularly those that come off of dead bodies, are naturally something that humans are opposed to. And then, there are those scents whose odors we can overcome, or even learn to appreciate.
All of these articles suggest that there is a slight connection between science and intuition. In everything you do, by gaining scientific knowledge, you can gain some mastery about what you are studying. At the same time, some people are naturally gifted and sometimes, you just need to actually experience it, like the Thai chefs, to truly get an understanding of what you are studying. And sometimes, you need both.