"A Taste of India Tablecloth" (left) 30" x 40"; "Ayurvedic Still Life"(right) 33" x 44", 2003
According to the very old Ayurvedic tradition in India, it is important to properly balance the different kinds of tastes in a meal. There are traditionally six different kinds of taste in this practice; sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Each taste is important for different organs and different aspects of health. If one is in balance, they would optimally have some of each taste in their meals. This still life is arranged according to these tastes. Sweet is on the left, Jaggery and sugar crystals, then a lemon and green mango for sour, a box of Asafetida, a chili pepper, ginger and onions, and some cardamon for pungent, a bottle of salt, bitter melon, and astringent flavors at the end including green bananas, yellow split peas, tumeric and raw vegetables.
At the corners of the rug are models of the sweet receptor, based on mGluR1, from the labs of Robert Margolski and Marianna Max, created by Marianna Max. A very sweet molecule, brazzein, which binds to the sweet receptor, surrounds the sweet receptor at the corners. The blue and green protein structures at the edges are the open and closed form of mGluR1, the receptor for glutamate, or the umami receptor. These I created using the Crystal Structure Of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Subtype 1 Complexed With Glutamate (1EWK) N.Kunishima, Y.Shimada, H.Jingami & K.Morikawa, and without (1EWT). Glutamate runs along the borders of these proteins. These I made with UCSF Chimera software. Underneath the glutamate are images of images of cells stained for the bitter receptor by Dr. Nick Ryba. In the center of the image is a microscope image of a taste bud from a fish by Anne Hansen. Models of bitter receptors are in golden at the corners of the central portion of the rug. They were modeled after the rhodopsin receptor by Marianna Max. The clusters of four white circular shapes around the bitter receptor are representations of how the sour receptor proteins might arrange themselves, in groups of four. The larger, eight circle flower like shapes around the taste bud are possible arrangements of the salty receptor proteins. In this case, the central port formed by the eight proteins would be where the sodium ions were allowed to enter. This information was provided by Candice Askwith, and the original paper on the ENaC Epithelium Sodium Channel came from J Biol Chem, Vol. 274, Issue 38, 27281-27286, September 17, 1999, Eskandari, et. al
The view through the window is an adaptation of an electron microscope image of a developing human taste bud taken by Martin Witt of the University of Technology Dresden.
"Textbook of Ayurveda Fundamental Principles, Volume One" by Vasant Lad, M.A.Sc., The Ayurvedic Press, 2002, ISBN 1-883725-07-0.
"Indian Food, A Historical Companion", K.T. Achaya, Oxford University Press, 1994.
"Textile Arts of India", Kokyo Hatanaka Collection, 1993, ISBN 0-8118-1084-4