Have you ever wondered what makes food good? Obviously, a lot of it depends on the ingredients and the preparation, not to mention your personal preferences. But psychological studies have shown a few surprising things that can make a difference. So whether you’re an amateur cook looking to improve yourself or just interested in the subject, here are a few things you need to know about what’s at stake in enjoying a plate of food.
What you probably suspect is true: When food tastes good, it tastes better.
In study, the researchers presented the subjects with a plated salad in one of three ways: with the ingredients mixed, with the ingredients presented neatly, and with the ingredients artistically presented (with the ingredients arranged to mimic a painting by Wassily Kandinsky ).
“Prior to consumption, the art-inspired presentation resulted in food being seen as more artistic, more complex, and more appreciated than either of the other presentations,” the article concludes. “Participants were also willing to pay more for the Kandinsky inspired veneer. Interestingly, after consumption, the results revealed higher taste scores for the art-inspired presentation. “
New food experiences are also more enjoyable.
Have you ever tried eating popcorn with chopsticks?
As odd as it may sound, research actually shows that you enjoy popcorn more if you eat it with chopsticks. Yes really! Apparently, eating or drinking something in an unusual way can recreate that feeling of well-being of trying something for the very first time, thus increasing our enjoyment of its taste (assuming we like it in the first place).
For an article published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the researchers asked a group of subjects to do various things – like eating popcorn, drinking water, and watching a movie – either in a totally normal way or in an unconventional, new and exciting. They found that people who tried things in unconventional ways, like eating popcorn with chopsticks or drinking water from a martini glass, enjoyed their experiences much more.
“When you eat popcorn with chopsticks, you pay more attention and you are more immersed in the experience,” one of the study’s authors said in a Press release. “It’s like eating popcorn for the first time.”
Using a totally new a utensil can also improve the taste of food.
Enter the Taste. This glass utensil, created by designer Andreas Fabian and chef and scientist Charles Michel, is a sort of wand modeled on the shape of a human finger. It is designed for creamy foods like yogurt, hummus, Nutella, and peanut butter. Fabian and Michel teamed up with the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the University of Oxford to see how people responded to the utensil, and they found that participants in a small study said the food tasted “significantly better.” when consumed in a snack rather than a spoon.
“Conventional cutlery is a technology that we put in our mouths every day, and currently it is only designed for functional purposes”, Michel Explain. “We want to offer kitchen utensils that enrich the sensual pleasures of eating.”
Obviously, not everyone is happy with new and new cutlery. But think about whether you’re using things like a honey ladle, a tablespoon, a seafood fork, or a lobster cracker. Using these specialized utensils can be very satisfying and possibly improve the taste of your food.
However, there is something to eat with the “good” cutlery …
Who wants to eat yogurt with chopsticks? A spoon makes sense.
But what kind of spoon spoon should you choose, then? Well, researcher Charles Spence asked people to rate the yogurt they tasted from an artificially weighted spoon or a light plastic spoon.
“The results revealed that yogurt was perceived to be denser and more expensive when tasted from a lighter plastic spoon compared to artificially weighted spoons,” he said. wrote in a research article published in the journal Flavor. The paper goes on to say that the right utensil will vary depending on the type of food served and the experience you’re looking for.
It really makes sense. Think about how food tastes when you eat it on paper plates with disposable plastic cutlery versus how it tastes at home or in a restaurant with ceramic plates and metal knives and forks.
This same logic can also apply to drinks. Have you ever thought that soda tastes different when you drink it from a can compared to a paper cup? Or what about the holy grail: the OG glass soda bottle? How about movie theater popcorn in a paper bag versus a sturdy bowl, or ice cream from a cone rather than straight from cardboard?
The color of your plate, mug or mug also matters.
Researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom served 53 subjects a portion of strawberry mousse on a black or white plate. Their paper reveals that those who served the mousse on a white plate liked it more and found the mousse sweeter and tastier.
In most cases, restaurants serve their dishes on white plates – which may well accentuate the flavor of the food while making it easier for diners to recognize what they are eating.
For a paper published in the Journal of Sensory Studies, the researchers asked the subjects to drink cocoa from a white, red, orange or cream cup. “The results revealed that the orange (with a white interior) and dark cream colored cups enhanced the chocolate flavor of the drink and therefore improved people’s acceptance of the drink,” the researchers wrote.
This may explain why we all have a “favorite” mug that brings us a little bit of joy every time we take a sip. It also explains the dislike of many people for cups that are not white on the inside – it affects the color of whatever you drink. Something that gives my tea a strange color? It won’t work for me.
Okay, so we know the science says so. But how can you incorporate these tips when serving food to others?
“I always tell my customers that food is a sensory experience,” says Gisela Bouvier, a registered dietitian who focuses on mindful and intuitive eating. “Food, above all, must be visually appealing to them. When they see the food combinations they are about to eat, they should be excited and rejoice in the food they are about to eat. Food coloring has a lot to do with it. If a meal is too monochromatic, it may not stimulate the senses as much as a colorful meal. A combination of colors can make the meal much more attractive and therefore more appetizing.
Bouvier also says that playing with textures can completely change how someone feels about a certain food.
“When someone is looking to include more nutrient-dense foods in their daily intake, the texture of their food matters,” she says. “For example: the texture of roasted broccoli versus steamed broccoli is very different. The slightly crunchy texture of roasted broccoli can make a meal much more palatable compared to a mild steamed texture of the same vegetable. Moreover, having different textures in a meal also creates a more pleasant experience when you eat that meal. I always recommend my clients to combine a variety of textures in their meals and snacks, such as crisp, soft, tender, crunchy and creamy. “
Rachel Meltzer Warren, a Jersey City, NJ-based dietitian nutritionist, suggests other small adjustments you can easily make.
“Garnish with a pinch of fresh herbs,” suggests Meltzer Warren. “Restaurants do this all the time – why not try it at home? Chop up some parsley, oregano or basil and sprinkle them over your meal to add intrigue, not to mention nutrients and a burst of fresh flavor.
Another of his tips that echoed from above? “Use white plates. Having a blank canvas allows the colors of your food to stand out and even make it tastier. “
Finally, she suggests playing with portion sizes when placing. “Placing a minimum portion of food on the plate allows the food itself to shine; an oversized portion that takes up the entire plate or dish overwhelms the eye and also doesn’t show your food, ”she says.
When thinking about how to make a meal more appealing to yourself or your guests, think about the aspects of dining that you really enjoy and try to recreate them. For example, if you like the atmosphere of a restaurant, recreate parts of it at home by setting the table, lighting candles, and playing soft jazz or classical music in the background. If you personally like to eat from pretty plates or use different knives and forks for each dish, go for it.
And of course, beyond the psychology, the quality and freshness of the ingredients in your meal make all the difference. Consider the taste of a farm-fresh summer tomato versus a floury supermarket tomato that was grown out of season, or what a difference fresh herbs can make compared to their dried counterparts. If you have access to a farmer’s market or stalls with seasonal produce, take advantage of the local cuisine to create fresh and tasty dishes.