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The Perfect Meal - the Multisensory Science of Food and Dining


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Table of Contents

Foreword xi 1 Introducing the Perfect Meal 1 1.1 Introduction 1 1.2 A brief history of culinary movements 2 1.3 The search for novelty and surprise 8 1.4 The brain on flavour 12 1.5 Food and the perception of everything else 16 1.6 Gastrophysics: the new science of the table 18 1.7 Food perception is fundamentally multisensory 21 1.8 Isn?t modernist cuisine only for the lucky affluent? 22 1.9 Amuse bouche 25 References 27 2 Let the Show Commence: On the Start of the Perfect Meal 37 2.1 Introduction 37 2.2 On the social aspects of dining 42 2.3 On the design of the menu 47 2.4 Conclusions 62 References 62 3 Tastes Great, But What do We Call It? The Art and Science of Food Description 71 3.1 Introduction 71 3.2 Snail porridge 73 3.3 Can labelling enhance the taste and/or flavour of food? 77 3.4 Interim summary 81 3.5 On the neuroscience of naming food 81 3.6 Naming names 84 3.7 Does food labelling influence the perceived ethnicity of a dish? 85 3.8 Natural and organic labels 87 3.9 Health/ingredient labels 88 3.10 Local labels 90 3.11 Descriptive food labelling 91 3.12 Labelling culinary techniques 92 3.13 Surprise! 95 3.14 Expectations and reactions 96 3.15 Conclusions 98 References 100 4 Plating and Plateware: On the Multisensory Presentation of Food 109 4.1 Introduction 109 4.2 A potted history of food presentation 111 4.3 The plate: the essential element of our everyday meal 115 4.4 Interim summary 128 4.5 The plate that is not a plate 128 4.6 On the multiple contributions of the visual appearance of a dish 135 4.7 Individual diner responses to the visual presentation of food 141 4.8 Conclusions 143 References 143 5 Getting Your Hands on the Food: Cutlery 151 5.1 Introduction 151 5.2 The story of cutlery 153 5.3 The material qualities of the cutlery 159 5.4 Size matters 165 5.5 On the texture/feel of the cutlery 166 5.6 Colourful cutlery 168 5.7 Cutlery that is not 169 5.8 Finger food 174 5.9 Eating without hands 175 5.10 Conclusions 177 References 177 6 The Multisensory Perception of Flavour 183 6.1 Introduction 183 6.2 Perceiving flavours 183 6.3 Taste 186 6.4 Olfactory?gustatory interactions 188 6.5 Oral-somatosensory contributions to multisensory flavour perception 191 6.6 Interim summary 193 6.7 The sound of food 194 6.8 Visual flavour 196 6.9 The cognitive neuroscience of multisensory flavour perception 200 6.10 Conclusions 202 References 204 7 Using Surprise and Sensory Incongruity in a Meal 215 7.1 Introduction 215 7.2 How did sensory incongruity become so popular and why is it so exciting? 216 7.3 Defining sensory incongruity 218 7.4 Noticing sensory incongruity 219 7.5 A brief history of sensory incongruity at the dinner table 224 7.6 Colour?flavour incongruity 226 7.7 Format?flavour incongruity 227 7.8 Smell?flavour incongruity 230 7.9 Interim summary 231 7.10 The diner?s response to sensory incongruity at the dinner table 232 7.11 Molecular gastronomy and surprise 233 7.12 Sensory incongruity and the concept of ?naturalness? 236 7.13 Individual differences in the response of diners to sensory incongruity 239 7.14 Conclusions 241 References 242 8 Why You?ll Never Find Your Perfect Meal in the Dark 249 8.1 Introduction 249 8.2 The social aspects of dining in the dark 251 8.3 Why are dining in the dark restaurants so popular nowadays? 252 8.4 Seeing or not seeing (correctly) the food 255 8.5 Does dining in the dark really capture how the blind experience food? 264 8.6 Cooking in the dark 265 8.7 Conclusions 265 References 266 9 How Important is Atmosphere to the Perfect Meal? 271 9.1 Introduction 271 9.2 Atmospherics and the experience economy 275 9.3 The Provencal Rose paradox 278 9.4 Does the atmosphere really influence our appraisal of the meal? 280 9.5 On the ethnicity of the meal 280 9.6 Tuning up how much money and time we spend at the restaurant 282 9.7 Context and expectation 286 9.8 The lighting 287 9.9 The olfactory atmosphere 288 9.10 On the feel of the restaurant 291 9.11 Atmospheric contributions to taste and flavour perception 294 9.12 Multisensory atmospherics 298 9.13 Conclusions 299 References 301 10 Technology at the Dining Table 311 10.1 Introduction 311 10.2 Technology on the dining table 312 10.3 Transforming the dining experience by means of technology at the table 315 10.4 Augmented Reality (AR) food: A case of technology for technology?s sake? 317 10.5 Using QR codes to change our interaction with food 319 10.6 Fostering healthy eating through the incorporation of technology at the table 320 10.7 Technology and distraction 322 10.8 Using technology to control the multisensory atmosphere at the dining table 323 10.9 On the neuroscience of matching sound to food (and how technology might help) 324 10.10 On the future of technology at the dining table: digital artefacts 326 10.11 The SmartPlate 328 10.12 Anyone for a ?Gin & Sonic?? 328 10.13 The tablet as twenty-first century plateware? 329 10.14 Tips from the chef at the tips of your fingers 331 10.15 Conclusions 331 References 333 11 On the Future of the Perfect Meal 339 11.1 Introduction 339 11.2 On the history of predicting the future of food 341 11.3 From the past to the future of food 351 11.4 Anyone for a spot of neo-Futurist cuisine? 363 11.5 Interim summary 366 11.6 Acknowledging our differences 367 11.7 The meal as catalyst for social exchange 367 11.8 Is it a restaurant or is it a science laboratory? 369 11.9 Pop-up dining, story telling and the joys of situated eating 371 11.10 Conclusions 372 References 374 Index 383

About the Author

Charles Spence is Professor of Experimental Psychologyand Head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory in the Department ofExperimental Psychology at Oxford University. Betina Piqueras-Fiszman was Consumer and SensoryResearcher at the Crossmodal Research Laboratory in the Departmentof Experimental Psychology at Oxford University and is currentlyAssistant Professor in the Department of Marketing and ConsumerBehaviour at Wageningen UR.


Review featured in TheTimes - 19 December 2014 This book is in a class by itself. If you thoughttaste was located on your tongue, then this unique book willdisabuse you of that notion and reveal how both eating and cookingare extraordinarily rich multisensory experiences. ( New York Journal of Books , 1 November 2014) Their exhaustive analyses of everything from plate sizeto flavour incongruities are laced with details such ascutlery s evolution from Victorian marrow scoops andchocolate muddlers to today s textured spoons and aromatic forks. ( Nature , 30 October2014) The Perfect Meal can t fail to entertain,inform and ultimately to dazzle. Heston Blumenthal,chef and owner of The Fat Duck. "Not many people are as ready to realise the importance of thesenses, not only in cooking but in eating, as Charles Spence andBetina Piqueras-Fiszman ...This book demonstrates beyond doubt thatgastronomy is the most complex creative discipline thatexists." Ferran Adria, elBullifoundation "Focussing on the brain's interpretation of our eatingexperience, pioneers Spence andPiqueras-Fiszman acknowledge the interdisciplinarynature of gastronomy, rendering a complex area of studyboth digestible and applicable." Ben Reade, Gastronomeand Head of Culinary Research and Development at Nordic FoodLab " The Perfect Meal goes beyond the exotic ingredients andcreative insights of the chef and into the realm of thediner s psychology. Using an accessible writing style thatneither talks down to the reader nor dumbs down the science, theauthors take us into the relatively unexplored world of the diningcontext: the gastrophysics of the visual, acoustic, tactile not to mention taste and smell influences that weare exposed to in every dining experience.This is a new approach tothinking about dining that will appeal to and inform anyone who hasever been convinced to buy a cookbook by its illustrations or whopersists, despite failure, to try to get a booking at The FatDuck ." John Prescott, Ph.D, author of TasteMatters: Why We Eat the Foods We Do. "Nowadays a great many chefs are realising thatscience also has a place at the table; that a dining experience ismade up of far more than just good food. By understanding howwe use our senses to interact with and appreciate food we may beable to further enhance our guests' dining experiences. This booklooks at many topics which will become increasingly relevant toboth chefs and our food culture as a whole in the comingyears." Jozef Youseff, chef and author of MolecularGastronomy at Home (www.kitchen-theory.com) ...packed with insights that are fascinating to anyone inpossession of an appetite. Amy Fleming, TheGuardian "One thing is for sure, after reading this book eating out willnever be the same again..." The Oxford Martin Programme onthe Future of Food

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