7 May 2019
Author: Tracey Ingram
Berger is the name behind Beyond Taste, eight tableware pieces that spotlight non-flavour-related sensory cues, linked to either the origin or preparation of certain foods. The project responds to the relatively new scientific field of gastrophysics, which applies principles from neuroscience, physics and chemistry to better understand the worlds of gastronomy and cooking.
‘Gastrophysics reveals that food is considered more pleasant or perceived to be of higher quality when eaten with heavy metallic cutlery rather than with plastic,' she notes. 'It’s also influenced by the way in which it is plated and what it’s served on.’ One of Berger’s pieces contains a hidden speaker. Paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth, the device plays sounds that make chocolate taste sweeter or more bitter.
Where once we saw chefs team with scientists to concoct chemistry experiments masking as food in the realm of molecular gastronomy, will we soon see the findings of gastrophysicists help to alter the sensory experience of dining? Designers such as Marije Vogelzang and Katrina Steven have already explored using portion control to tackle the issue of overeating, but could gastrophysics offer a more invisible approach? Could audio brands jump on board to help retrain our taste buds, helping us to cut back on sugar-laden desserts? Will Spotify launch a selection of playlists: sweet or savoury?
There’s potential for product manufacturers here, too. Martin Kullik is the co-founder of Experimental Gastronomy, an initiative that fosters conscious sustainable eating through a series of multi-sensory events. One such happening included taste-altering cutlery by Renée Boute and Lisanne van Zanten. Dainty blue utensils increased the perception of saltiness in a meal, whereas longer, heavier white cutlery made a dish taste sweeter. ‘Imagine if you started applying that knowledge to places like elderly homes and crèches,’ says Kullik.
While Experimental Gastronomy’s first experience was limited to the artistry of the food and cutlery, later editions may incorporate everything from glassware and furniture to textiles and fragrance. If tomorrow’s restaurants follow suit and head in an all-encompassing direction, they will have to embrace the art of subtlety. ‘As important as sensory stimulation in eating is,’ says Berger, ‘overstimulation can ruin the entire experience.’
Tracey Ingram is a writer and editor specialising in spatial design, products and concepts that reflect changes in the way we live, work, shop, eat, sleep.
For more insight into the future of the food & drink industry, book tickets to our Food & Drink Futures Forum 2019.