A new scientific approach to food is emerging: gastrophysics. The term was coined by British psychologist/food scientist Charles Spence, who has done work on how taste, aroma and our enjoyment of food are influenced by our senses. Gastrophysics follows on the heels of molecular gastronomy, “the appropriation of industrial food science methods by top chefs”, which has influenced the food movement in important ways. Some of the ideas from both fields have been used by food companies to market products since at least the 1930s.
Amy Fleming (@Amy_Fleming) writes for The Guardian:
“Spence and his gastrophysics contemporaries – who work in disciplines from psychology, neuroscience and sensory sciences to marketing, behavioural economics and design – don’t talk about what a meal “tastes of”. Instead, they say “flaves of”, because they know that taste, which technically only happens on the tongue, is a paltry part of the overall effect.”
Some findings make sense. Food that’s sloppily plated doesn’t taste as good as food that’s beautifully arranged. But some findings were perhaps a bit more surprising: “roundness (whether it’s the product or the logo) tastes sweeter while pointy is bitter.” Other illuminating facts? Expensive tastes good. We’ll eat more if we’re noshing while watching a sad movie. And we also eat more when we’re together in groups (sometimes, a lot more, depending on the size of the group).
An interesting and fun read.
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