An author1 interviewed on NPR has invented a new science: the study of the taste of food and named his book, Gastrophysics. All of our senses affect how our food tastes and the amount we eat. I knew the French eat richer, tastier food, but less of it because one eats until satisfied, and the yummier it is the quicker that happens. Slower mindful eating also resonated as common sense in terms of enjoyment. Eating while multitasking equates with eating more, taking longer for the brain to notice the tummy is full. Ergo, turn off the TV and get your devices off the table.
The fact that presentation adds to one’s satisfaction is also not surprising. The gastrophysicist tested white vs. black plates. Strawberries taste better on white plates. I thought I circled my plate for easier access to cut my meat, but aesthetic reasons may be involved. I understand the influence of the shape of the plate and the heft of the flatware for the total dining experience, but not the taste.
It goes without saying that smell affects taste since much of taste is smell, but what is more tantalizing to the appetite than the aroma of a roasting turkey on Thanksgiving?.
I’ve always appreciated certain textures of food. I like chewy, and I like something crisp in a salad. Mr. Spence asked if anyone would eat a soggy potato chip.
The biggest surprise was how sound affects taste. It’s not just that calm music relaxes you, allowing you to enjoy your meal. The author played two selections of music while Michael Krasny tasted chocolate. One had more bass and now I don’t recall which gave the chocolate a sweeter taste. When some high-pitched screechy bit was played, I could feel the saliva building in the back of my mouth as if I had swallowed pure lemon juice.
Then there may be an explanation about why airplane food is not prized. Altitude affects taste. However, a spicy bloody mary mix tastes better in the friendly skies, and a higher percentage of bloody marys are sold on planes than in bars.Now I know why it’s my favorite order even if it’s a virgin order.
At any rate, I thought the interview was food for thought. Don’t groan!
- Charles Spence