Does music really make food taste better?

Does music really make food taste better?

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The music that plays over your restaurant's speakers may be affecting how your guests feel about their entrees. Several food perception psychologists and studies show that there may be a link between the sweet music to your ears and the way your food tastes. Several of them point to the fact that certain genres and instruments may make your dessert sweeter or your kale more bitter.

Sweet music to your mouth?
As NPR reported, a recent study conducted by Oxford University suggested that there may be a link between sound and taste buds. As the source explained, the researchers learned that higher pitched instruments make sweet foods taste even sweeter, while low-pitched music made bitter items increasingly pungent. 

The mastermind behind the experiment, Charles Spence, told NPR that this occurs because sound can connect a diner with the environment of where the food came. The example given by the source is thinking about the ocean while eating seafood may enhance the overall experience and  of freshness, and this type of assertion isn't the first investigation into the perception of food.

While the researchers are still working to learn more about the phenomena, they confirmed that to some extent you can count on music to alter the flavor of your meal.

"You can then start creating experiences where you play particular kinds of music or soundscape to diners or to drinkers while they're tasting," he said. "We're able to show that we can change the experience in [the] mouth by about 5 or 10 percent."

Research indicates that the whiskey in your glass may be enhanced if you sip it by the fire.

Crackling fires paired with whiskey
Prior to this discovery, a team of researchers from well-known drink company Diageo decided to play around with ambiance and taste to see how the two influence one another, according to the BBC. As Diageo is predominately beverage focused, it only made sense that they carried out a study on one of America's favorite liquors – whiskey. 

"For a drinks company to think what does our whisky sound like, not just what does it taste like, opens a window to a whole lot of creativity," Nik Keane, malt whisky global brand director for Diageo, told the BBC. 

As it turns out, a number of environmental factors influence a person's taste bud experience that span beyond music. The company decided that particular sounds such as a creaky floorboard or the roars of a fire could enhance the flavor of whiskey in one's glass. This could mean that not only could a playlist make a dish more enjoyable, but factors that are outside of a business' control may have something to contribute to the overall food rating as well. 

Neurogastronomy undecided by America

"This idea that ambiance interacts with a person's tastebuds is called Neurogastronomy."

This idea that ambiance interacts with a person's tastebuds is called Neurogastronomy. A number of books and recipes have been published that revolve around the particular theory. Perhaps it's best explained by Gordon M. Shepard, a professor of neurobiology at Yale. 

His book "Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters" digs deep into how the brain conceptualizes smells and ultimately perceives flavor, as explained on Columbia University's website. Yet despite these concepts, many culinary experts still question the appeal of Neurogastronomy. 

Perhaps one of the more familiar failures of Neurogastronomy was made known by a number of reviews of the now-closed Romera, which was located in New York City. New York Times food critic Pete Wells said it all in the title of his article "A Feast for the Eyes, at Least."

He expanded on this theme by explaining that his sub-par experience had nothing to do with the $200 per meal prices and everything to do with the clash of flavors. He felt the way some other proponents of Neurogastronomy feel in that it's more smoke and mirrors than an explosion of flavors.

It's to be seen if the latest research will put Neurogastronomy back in the culinary spotlight; however, writers for the Fine Dining Lovers blog seem to think there's a place for it in the sky and it isn't heaven. Contributor for the publication Ryan King predicted that it may take off in the airline industry, as he recently enjoyed a several course meal on his flight from Zurich to New York.

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