We eat with our senses – it’s all in the presentation

shutterstock_116613715It is said that when we eat, we eat with all our senses. We may not think about it, but each of our senses – sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste – is engaged at one level or another as part of the eating experience. Individuals who have lost one or more senses, apart from taste, have reported that food doesn’t taste the same.

“Wow! That looks really good.” It’s a statement often made when we see well prepared food. Enjoying food can begin with what we see – how a meal is presented can make even items we have never tasted appealing. A carefully set table, clean, attractive tableware and attractive lighting set the mood. Food items that are artfully arranged on a plate, with a variety of bright and familiar colours are very inviting and suggest good nutrition.

Scent is one of the most powerful stimulants for taste, memory and pleasure! The tantalizing aroma of something good on the stove is enough to trigger hunger pangs and extra moisture in the mouth. In fact, real estate agents recommend warming up apple cider with cinnamon on a stove prior to showing a house to prospective buyers to enhance the atmosphere of the home. On the other hand, food with an unpleasant or pungent odour can be a huge turnoff.

Hearing the sizzle of food on a grill or in a frying pan is yet another invitation to good eating. It gets our attention and prompts us to tune in with our other senses.

How the food feels can arouse interest in different ways. How a food item feels when we pick it up – Is it firm? Is it “slimy”? Warm? Cold? – And then there is the texture in our mouth when we bite into it. You may identify with folks who say they like the taste of a food, but not the texture. It’s all a matter of individual taste.

And finally, all of those pre-eating senses come together with that first bite, when food meets taste buds.

So when planning a meal, consider the presentation and all your senses!