On the physiology of taste: "Spicy" trumps "bitter"?

A while back, I went to my favorite bar and ordered a negroni (a cocktail that tastes really bitter) and a plate of gumbo. The gumbo was moderately spicy, but nowhere near mouth-burning. Still, I found that after eating a bite or two of the gumbo, the bitter taste of the negroni disappeared, leaving only the herbal flavor of the drink.

What’s up with that?

Spicy isn’t really a taste. The flavors are sweet, sour, salty, bitter and “umami” (the one MSG activates).

“Spicy” is just the sensation of damage being caused to your tongue. You can actually damage the skin on the other parts of your body if the chili is “hot” enough. think pepper spray.

Not sure if that really answers your question, though.