The sense of touch and its role in gourmet- Part 2
In the first part of this article, The sense of touch and its role in gourmet- Part 1, we discussed that carbs, fat and salt are important ingredients in food to which the brain responds positively and releases dopamine. We talked about the limitations in the capacity of the memory and we wondered how the master chefs make sure that His/Her Majesty the client remembers as much as possible of the wonderful details in the multi-course dinner served to them. Here I will reveal the secret, how the sense of touch/feel/sensation helps to solve this case?
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The witchcraft of contrasts
That’s right, the clue is in the contrasts. In order to be able to remember more things from a wonderful tasting menu, the client’s attention needs to be stimulated so that his/her brain can store as many elements as possible in the short-term memory and then transfer them to the long-term. The good memory of dinner at this restaurant will bring him/her back to it, and may bring other customers. A good chef knows how to achieve this by setting contrasts in the food.
Our brain enjoys the opposite tastes and sensations the most – sweet versus salty, hot versus cold. This is a reliable way to make someone want more than what you give them.
You put one such provocation on the plate and see what joy comes out. That’s why I’m very happy when I describe a fine dining cuisine in which the chef experiments with textures and combines crispy with soft, liquid or gel-like. Or put a cold center in a hot crust, and even better- uses popping candy. 😊 It’s better to have diversity, because the recurring does not have the same power as the surprise.
Why do we talk about taste when we had to discuss feel or touch?
Now you will say that we are dealing with the sense of taste, not touch.
The thing is that in our mouth the cells that are responsible for taste receptors are practically modified version of those that register skin contact.
This is also the reason to be extremely careful with the temperature of the served dish, because very hot and very cold can seriously harm the customer, cause him great pain and then no mastery with contrasts or textures will help.
So, what came out of it? It turned out that taste and touch are the same things. Well, not quite, because we have other categories of taste, such as sweet, salty, bitter, sour, etc., but I will write about them some other time.
Rather, I want to emphasize how the senses work together, in sync that should not be underestimated. That is why the great master chefs are known for their sense of balance, but also for the good sense of provocation.
I have mentioned many times that when there is no need to add salty, sour or anything to a simple salad, then it means that a good master made it.
But to remember this same salad, it is not enough. You need to put provocation- contrast. What could be provocative about a salad? Well, there is a way, the masters know.
However, to be sure that the start of a customer’s dinner is impressive, the chefs in high end fine dining restaurant design a complimentary starter, representing a small sample of the cuisine mastery. It usually awakes your senses and set you up for the gastronomic spectacle they plan to give you. Thus, the first element of the gourmet series is memorable, but not abundant, rather only a hint, so as not to overshadow the next in the series. Just like an overture to an opera, which demonstrates a little of all the musical fragments in the work.
As it turned out, for good fine dining or gourmet, working with contrasts, be it in textures, temperature, tastes i.e. super important.
You know a great master chef by the contrasts.
Let’s not forget about the sense of sight
And since I already mentioned that all the senses are connected, let’s not forget what was written in the post about the fovea. If the bar of the chef and the owner of a restaurant is raised even higher and they strive to apply the principles of the Experience Economy[i], it is even more important that the “stage” of their “spectacle”[ii] that they perform for the client, is well lit up in the exact places where the main action is developed.
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[i] “The Experience Economy” by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, updated edition, Harvard Business Review Press Boston, Massachusetts
[ii] According to the authors of the theory of “The Experience Economy”, the most impressive places for customers are, those where there is a feeling that they participate in a spectacle, presented especially for them, in which they are both spectators and an actors.
Source: Cognitive Psychology, Sixth Edition, Robert J. Sternberg and Karin Sternberg ,, “Biological Psychology”, James W. Kalat, North Carolina State University
This publication in 2 parts does not exhaust all the possibilities for high skills of professional chefs, is not the result of a scientific experiment or study, but uses external sources and does not claim to be scientific material, generally accepted truth or fact.