Sense makes food!

The Varq Restaurant at Taj Mansingh Hotel, Delhi may be defined as my own personal epicurean epicenter, for I crave to visit it any and every chance I'd get. Of course, this is not the only place which brings that epic epiphany relating to the existence of the the mastery in culinary arts, but still, it just served as a good example to start off with this blog post.

We are all aware (I hope) of the nasal role played in our food tasting experience. So, talking about the five senses, we may cross off the olfactory and gustatory ones. 
The tactile one is also of prime importance as can be heard in the phrase "Maa ke haath ka khana" (the food prepared by the mother). The conclusion arrived at from a related cocktail discussion was that there is some sort of an energy that is transferred from your finger tips to your food when you eat with your hands (now, don't blame me for going against table manners).

But I wanted to go beyond the somewhat obvious inferences. 
How far can our visual and auditory senses affect our eating experience?

Had to Google up some stuff for this, but the results are amazing. 

Experimental observations
Experiments suggest that varying the frequency or loudness of eating sounds lead to varied perceptions of the freshness, and crispiness of the same food item.
A very interesting experiment is described by J.Wheatley wherein a meal of steak, french fries and peas under color masking light conditions are served, and halfway through the meal, normal lighting is restored which showed that the respective colours were blue,green and red. Enough to make them barf.
Other experiments show that participants were more likely to identify a cherry flavored juice as one of orange, simply because it was colored orange. Forget the hues, ever thought if the saturation mattered? A flavored beverage with a higher intensity of the color is more likely to be judged as sweeter.
To quote from the source itself, 
"In fact, Zellner and Kautz noted that the participants in their study simply refused to believe that colored and uncolored solutions of equal odor intensity were actually equally strong."
Indeed. All of our senses are essential for the proper food experience.

Question it further
Talk about enriching that experience if viewed from a chef's perspective. Or rather a restaurant owner's.

How can the Master chef's design affect one's appetite? Or the way of presenting something? 
We're served an appetizer of tamarind ice cream in the aforementioned restaurant. Nothing unique about the ice cream  rather the dish in which it is served. Encased by dry ice, with little orifices allowing sublimation.You see white fumes pouring out of the dish from where you're eating the ice.

How can a place's interior design, color lighting affect it? 
Just day before yesterday, I attended a wedding nearby where bright multicolored fluorescent lights rendered one section of the food area (the big fat Indian wedding- you have various sections) such that it was relatively less preferred by the guests
To talk of dark restaurants, perhaps this novelty is enhancing your experience in a unique way altogether. Shutting off one sense to enhance the others. 

But as a designer and an amateur cook, I'd rather want my guinea pig(read: the taster) to observe and appreciate my art first; look at the steam arising from the hot servings, or the slight runs of chocolate sauce over the frosted pudding; delicately delve the spoon into the dish, realizing its texture and then preconceive a notion of the taste by judging its color, odor and texture.
And then savor the taste that has surpassed his expectations, in a moment of pure transcendental bliss.

Bon app├ętit! 

This blog was originally posted on

{Reference: Assessing the Role of Visual and Auditory Cues in Multisensory Perception of Flavor. Authors: Zampini M, Spence C.}
Assessing the Rol... [The Neural Bases of Multisensory Processes. 2012]


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