Scientists Have Discovered A Grass That Tastes Exactly Like Salt And Vinegar Chips
One can only wonder how these scientists came to this realization. And the answer is exactly what you might expect – they liked their hands, literally. While on an expedition to catalogue a number of native grass species in Australia, the team of researchers realized that one of them tastes exactly like salt and vinegar chips. The discovery happened by accident since this is not standard procedure.
“Someone licked their hand at some point and tasted that flavour,” biologist Matthew Barrett from the University of Western Australia (UWA), told Lisa Morrison at ABC North West.
The grass in question is an iconic native Australian plant that’s particularly known for its hardiness and ability to resist the scorching climate of the Australian Outback. There are at least 64 species of this plant family, found all across Australia, with chances being that the number is even larger than that. Some of the species may have a small area of distribution, making them hard to find and identify.
New discoveries constantly rewrite the taxonomy of these plants, and it was during one such process that the salt and vinegar chips flavour was discovered in the first place. The team believes that the taste comes from tiny droplets of liquid that forms on the younger grass stems.
“It looks pretty inconspicuous when you first get to it, but if you look at it very closely it has very, very minute sparkling droplets on the stems,” said Barrett. “When you lick them, they taste like salt and vinegar chips.”
Triodia scintillans – the tangy, sparkly grass in question, is one of a group of eight new species described by Barrett and UWA PhD student Ben Anderson. In their study, the team noted that the droplets “can remain a viscous liquid or become crystalline following specimen drying.” They are, nevertheless, water-soluble, meaning that it can be washed away. Many species of grasses secrete tiny amounts of sticky sugars, proteins, and even salt from teeny tiny micro hairs on their leaves.
Now, even though the team mentioned the fact that this particular species secretes that substance, the didn’t, however, mention the taste in the study. Nevertheless, the information is now out there, and it only adds to the other, already tested properties this plant has. Indigenous Australians have been using its resin as a sort of adhesive for thousands of years now.