Sun, Mar 16, 2014 - Page 9 News List

If music be the food of love: How sounds affects taste

New research in sensory science suggests that what we are listening to while we are eating influences flavor in an effect known as modulating taste

By Amy Fleming  /  The Guardian

Incidentally, for those among you who curse that you cannot hear yourself think, or indeed taste, in some restaurants, it is not unheard of for the background din to register 90 decibels, which is a tad louder than commercial flights.

“Have you ever noticed how many people ask for a bloody mary or tomato juice from the drinks trolley on aeroplanes? The air stewards have, and when you ask the people who order, they tell you that they rarely order such a drink at any other time,” Spence said.

Spence reckons this is because umami may be immune to noise suppression. If he proves his hypothesis, perhaps concentrating on umami-rich ingredients such as tomatoes, parmesan, mushrooms and cured meats in the sky could help obliterate plane-food hell.

Last year, a paper published in the journal Chemosensory Perception looked at matching pitches and instruments with odors (smell being the dominant sense in flavor appreciation).

The aromas of candied peel, dried plums and iris flowers were all matched with piano significantly more than woodwind, strings or brass.

Musk, on the other hand, was overwhelmingly brass. In terms of pitch, candied orange and irises were significantly higher than musk and roasted coffee.

This is just the start of a long and winding road of research, and the findings will undoubtedly be noted most by multinational companies keen to manipulate us into loving their products.

Have you knowingly experienced synaesthesia when it comes to taste? Does matching sound to taste seem a massive, unnecessary faff? Does restaurant noise often spoil your meal?

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