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Why Instagramming your food makes it taste better
This week, I’m in Paris farming weird zombie mushrooms. I’ve never been to Paris! So send any Paris tips my way and I won’t have time to go to them but I will have time to write you a letter saying, “Oh my god thanks for the wonderful tips and I’ll definitely do that next time.” I promise I'll also feel terrible about myself.
But you aren’t alone! This week’s guest editor is Heather Sears. She’s a fellow Bostonian, a marketer and kitchen product entrepreneur who just published a new book, Mind to Mouth. A friend introduced us. I was initially a touch skeptical. However, Heather’s got a really interesting perspective on “mindfulness” and I learned a lot from the stories she shared. So enjoy her links, and make sure to check out her new book.
I’m psyched to share this week’s round up for Snack Cart. While I’m interested in food in general, what fascinates me is the hypothesis that how we eat is as important as what we eat. Our state of mind, what we pay attention to, and the sensory inputs from our surroundings all impact our mealtime experience.
For example, one piece of news got me worried. Holidays are coming up and I’m trying to make sure my LBD (little black dress) will still fit. Who knew that using the word “snack” can make you eat more. Maybe we can just refer to this newsletter as “The Cart” for the week.
It’s November and the colder weather gets me in a dunk-my-donuts in coffee kind of mood. While I don’t go for donuts bigger than my face, I do notice the dunked ones seem to always taste delicious. Research shows that rituals like this make food taste better. This is because the slight delay of gratification before we eat gets our gastric juices primed. The same concept applies to instagramming food and singing happy birthday. So click away before you dive in. But hmmm, will this fact make this chef's food taste worse?
Beaujolais Nouveau Day is almost here! (November 16th) While these days we can enjoy wine any which way - out of a bottle, box, bag or mini-can - it’s interesting to note that wine actually tastes better when sealed with a cork. The reason is the sound that the cork makes.
All of our senses impact our experience of meals and hearing is very under-rated. Ever wonder why potato chip packages are so crinkly and noisy? One reason may be that the noise makes the chips seem fresher.
Most research like this falls under the umbrella of gastrophysics. Charles Spence out of Oxford is the foremost researcher in this field and is doing all types of experiments. He’s found that high pitched music can make food taste sweeter and he’s now suggesting serving food on ipads and tablets to provide an auditory backdrop to complement food choices.
Some restaurants are finding that playing the right music can make people spend more. Restaurateurs are applying technology to not just to personalize music, but also what is served. Vita Mojo in London is actually now personalizing meals using DNA . Hopefully I have the pizza gene.
This clever tech move towards health is helpful. Because our sense of sight is extremely powerful and it’s hard to escape crave-inducing food pics in the media. (140,050,458 #foodporn posts in Instagram as of this moment.) And researchers found that just a glimpse of junk food is a magnet for our attention. In fact images of junk food are twice as distracting as healthy food. Maybe that’s not so bad, because mindfully eating chocolate is shown to improve mood. But researchers also say after a few bites junk food loses its visual allure, so we can more easily go back to our DNA-directed greens and beans.
If you found this interesting, check out my book Mind to Mouth: A Busy Chick’s Guide to Mindful Mealtime Moments. I wrote it because I started choking while triple-tasking during working lunches and wanted to take ownership of mealtime experiences. It has data, interviews and tips on creating mental space to be more fully present throughout the consumption journey. It’s a fun, practical read for you, or maybe a gift for the busy chick in your life. Cheers!