"All too often, cooking is explained in terms of social norms about femininity, or immigrants, or, in one recent New York Times column, the Cold War. This is all very well for sophomore sociology classes, but why does no one ever offer simple theories such as 'they liked it'; 'they thought it looked pretty like that'; or 'that was what they could afford'? Having read quite a lot of the era's cookbooks and food writing, I find these the most likely reasons for the endless parade of things molded, jellied, bemayonnaised and enbechameled."
“Sound is the forgotten flavour sense,” says experimental psychologist Charles Spence. In this episode of Gastropod, we discover how manipulating sound can transform our experience of food and drink, making stale crisps taste fresh, adding the sensation of cream to black coffee, or boosting the savory, peaty notes in whiskey.[more inside]
Since the controversial 2010 takeover of the British company Cadbury, by the makers of processed cheese slices Kraft, consumers of chocolate have been dismayed at the many changes brought in by the new owners. But the breaking point of many has been reached as the recipe for Cadbury Creme Eggs in the UK is changed, replacing dairy milk chocolate with standard cocoa mix chocolate. To add insult to culinary injury, Mondelez International, owned by Kraft Foods, is also introducing five eggs in a pack instead of three and six-packs. The opinions of actors and wallpaper designers. [more inside]
"For any given profession, it turns out that there are certain names that appear more often in that profession than in the general population. Here's a chart with 6 of the names that are the most disproportionately common in 37 professions." [more inside]
In the wake of the great miracle fruit craze of the late 00's, Francis Lam tested two more obscure taste distorters: adenosine 5′-monophosphate, which blocks the sensation of bitter flavors, and Gymnema sylvestre, a South Asian herb that does the same for sweetness.
Your body is home to about 100 trillion bacteria and other microbes, collectively known as your microbiome. Naturalists first became aware of our invisible lodgers in the 1600s, but it wasn’t until the past few years that we’ve become really familiar with them. This recent research has given the microbiome a cuddly kind of fame. We’ve come to appreciate how beneficial our microbes are — breaking down our food, fighting off infections and nurturing our immune system. It’s a lovely, invisible garden we should be tending for our own well-being. But in the journal Bioessays, a team of scientists has raised a creepier possibility. Perhaps our menagerie of germs is also influencing our behavior in order to advance its own evolutionary success — giving us cravings for certain foods, for example.[more inside]
"Exploring Gender Bias in listening Do men listen to different music than women do? Anecdotally, we can think of lots of examples that point to yes – it seems like more of One Direction’s fans are female, while more heavy metal fans are male, but let's take a look at some data to see if this is really the case." An examination of music listening data from Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest.
"From a street-parked GhostFood truck, Simun and Songster and their team of trained staff will be serving a menu of three items, each of which conjures up a future dining experience for a food whose supply is currently threatened by climate change. " // "Its menu offers a curious collection of substitutes for potentially endangered foods: artificial recreations of chocolate, cod, and peanut butter." // "Pop one of the placebos--or “edible textural substitutes”--in your mouth and enjoy."
The guardian of the nation’s etiquette, Debrett’s, has now issued a handy 10-point guide to mobile (cell) phone etiquette in the digital age
"One can almost hear the anticipatory echoes of something like Yelp in the context of José Ortega y Gasset’s The Revolt of the Masses (1930). The multitude, he wrote, once “scattered about the world in small groups,” now appears “as an agglomeration.” It has “suddenly become visible, installing itself in the preferential positions in society. Before, if it existed, it passed unnoticed, occupying the background of the social stage; now it has advanced to the footlights and is the principal character.” The disgruntled diner, now able to make or break a restaurant through sheer collective will. Against this leveling of critical power, the old guard fulminates. Ruth Reichl, the former editor of Gourmet, recently harrumphed that “anybody who believes Yelp is an idiot. Most people on Yelp have no idea what they’re talking about.”"—Star Wars, by Tom Vanderbilt, in The Wilson Quarterly [more inside]
Listening to what the tongue feels:
First, drink some black coffee. Next, rub your tongue against the roof of your mouth. It should feel a little rough, like very fine sandpaper: the tiny bumps on your tongue, called papillae, are raised just enough to create friction against your palate. If you now add cream to your coffee and try again, the sensation should be much smoother — almost velvety. A layer of fat and mucous is now coating your tongue, providing lubrication and preventing friction. What you have just done was, until very recently, the most accurate method for evaluating the oral perception of fat — the precise degree of tongue-coating creaminess in milk, mayonnaise, or chocolate pudding.
A genome-wide association study has linked a dislike of cilantro with a variant of a single nucleotide in a cluster of olfactory receptor genes. The palatability of cilantro has previously been a divisive subject on the blue. [more inside]
Choice blindness occurs when subjects are unaware that the choice they made is opposite their previously stated preferences. In this recent paper, subject preferences were reversed between tastes of jam and scents of tea. Overall, only a third of all the manipulated trials were detected by subjects whose preferences had been switched by the experimenters. [more inside]
Suddenly everything you eat or drink tastes horribly bitter and metallic, with the bitterness persisting at the back of your tongue after each swallow. The symptom recedes somewhat after a few meals but still persists after days. What's wrong with you? Brain tumor? Liver failure? First check if you ate pine nuts a few days ago - if so, you've probably just got pine mouth. [more inside]
"People who use sows to hunt for truffles often find it hard to prevent a sex-crazed animal from eating the truffle she has found and may lose fingers in the attempt." (via) The NYT on decoding the genome of the Périgord Black Truffle . Attempts to make truffles cheaper and more accessible in the past have been met with some resistance.
Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami, and.... fat? Dr. Russell Keast, an Austrailian scientist who studies "perceived flavour, consumer acceptance and preference of foods and nutrition," has conducted research exploring humans' apparent sixth taste perception: fat. The kicker? Sensitivity to the taste of fat was negatively correlated with fat intake and BMI. Dr. Keast discussed the results of his latest research with Slashfood, and The Sydney Morning Herald. (via) [more inside]
Colin is a new British horror film told from a Zombie's point of view. It was made for £45 and apparently it went down well at Cannes . Peter Jackson's first film Bad Taste did a similar thing. This documentary features Jackson's parents talking about taking the film to France.
You strike up a conversation with someone you don't know, and you're getting on OK, and then suddenly, without warning, you hear the five words that mean the relationship has no future beyond the time it takes to say them: “I think you'll like it.” via 3quarksdaily [more inside]
Pixifoods: Any food substance that is highly pleasant to the taste as a child and tastes shockingly unpleasant once you become an adult.
Yummy Science. Researchers unravel the complex combination of physical and emotional reactions that influence our perceptions of what tastes good. Once upon a time, flavor research was a matter of asking housewives to munch a few potato chips... Now it's about providing an exceptional flavor "experience." And as scientists learn to exploit the ways we perceive flavor, food manufacturers will be able to refine their products to appeal to us as individuals. Welcome to the world of personally tailored mass-produced food.
I really enjoy discoveries that, in retrospect, should have been obvious (but weren't). It's not just your tongue that can taste sugar.
Do You Taste What I Taste? - The first of Slate's 3-part series on the physiology of taste [parts 2, 3]
Today in the Netherlands, public broadcaster BNN aired the first episode of sex- and drug-themed television show "Spuiten en Slikken"; the punning title translates to either "Shoot Up & Pop (Pills)" or "Squirt & Swallow". [more inside]
New research concludes that cats lack a functional sweet taste receptor, as reported in the new, free-access journal PLoS Genetics. Also: WaPo coverage, and the new family of Public Library of Science journals.
27-year-old professional recorder player can not only see colours when hearing music but can taste musical notes (see chart for details). More on synaesthesia, which has appeared here, here and here. [courtesy of CBC]
According to Scientific Proof magazine your favorite band stinks. If you like Justin and Christina, Staind, Linkin Park or a host of others then it is a scientific fact that you have bad taste in music. Fortunately, there is a cure.
Ah, inspiring food and good writing. Recounting "first taste" experiences of Sea Urchin, Hearts of Artichokes à la Isman Bavaldy, and Cock in Wine, the perfect Pastrami sandwich, the sweet memory of honey and green mangoes, and about the late-onset cook, THE DOMESTIC MALE.
Think you know your coffee? I got here because I was arguing over the acidity of coffee with a friend. It's good for knowledge of all things coffee - take a pictorial tour of coffee production, learn how flavors are evaluated, consider some of the political aspects of coffee, watch the techniques of latte art. Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!
no wonder so few people listen to classical music. "Appreciation of classical music may require more brain power."