Monday, July 01, 2013

People are weird: Another installment in a looooooong series.

I just read a paper that I just had to share.  A research team from Oxford was interested in how the taste of food is influenced by the utensils you use to eat them.  They were spurred on by the findings that a nicer wine glass makes wine taste better and that bigger plates makes the food look smaller so people eat more. 

They did a series of studies that looked at eating yogurt with plastic cutlery of different sizes, colors, and type (knife, fork, and spoon).  I am not going to list all of the findings, but suffice it to say that all of these things affected the taste and the effects were different for different kinds of food. Just a few quick examples:

Eating yogurt from a knife makes it taste saltier.  No, this was not because they cut their tongue - it was plastic.  I suspect it is because we eat cheese with a knife and since it is also dairy it might be primed unconsciously. 

Eating yogurt on a lighter weight spoon makes it taste richer.  Probably because the yogurt is heavier  relative to the weight of the spoon, so it seemed denser when lifting it and that primed richness.

Color contrast was key.  The effects were different with the red spoon/red yogurt (e.g. strawberry) combination v blue spoon/blue yogurt (e.g. blueberry), blue spoon/red yogurt and red spoon/blue yogurt. 

So why bother learning to cook or spending money on high quality ingredients !!!  Just figure out what color and size to use for your plates, knives, forks, and glasses and you can fool people into thinking the food is great.