Eye of the 5D Sensograph, by placescases.com

What is fovea and what does it have to do with gourmet?

Maybe you’re wondering what a fovea is. I remember a story by Stanislav Lem, where an interstellar traveler stumbled upon a planet where everyone was talking about a sepulka. The traveler wondered all the time what this thing is that everyone was talking about, so defining the lives of the inhabitants of this planet, enshrined deep in their cultural values and of paramount importance for their existence. He tried to ask, but instead of answering him, they came back with laughter, or with indecent indignation, others with shame, third with sympathy for the pitcher, as if they thought he was insane. I guess the question “What is this Sepka?” was infamous. And even though at one point the main character almost managed to get to the truth about this enigmatic thing,  by the end of the story, it never became clear what it was.

"Star Diaries" Stanislav Lem, "Galactica" publishing
“Star Diaries” Stanislav Lem, “Galactica” publishing

I, unlike Stanislav Lem, will try to explain what fovea is, so I recommend you read the text below, somewhere there you will find the definition. 😉

Did it ever happen to you to go to a restaurant, see an exquisitely presented dish on a plate, you wonder should you eat it or rather admire it gazing only, however, because of the slight muffled light, you can’t accurately determine what’s in it.

A while ago I promised to write a post explaining why there should be enough luxes in the restaurants and here I am fulfilling the promise.

Lux is a unit of illumination on the international system of SI units. 1 Lux is the amount of illumination provided by 1 lumen, evenly distributed on 1 sq. m of area.

Lumen measures the illumination emitted by artificial sources. But now, if I give a definition of lumen, you can give up reading more, so you won’t know what a fovea is, just like in the story about the sepulka. That’s why I give you the source[i], from which I read about lumen to read details, if you’re interested.

It is clear to all of us that before we try a meal we are at first looking at it. If it looks good, we decide to eat it. This is deeply embedded in our instinct for self-preservation. If something doesn’t look edible, don’t touch it with your tounge.

By the smell we determine if it’s appetizing. Some great Chefs make it so that we can also hear our food- poping candies, hissing and smoking dry ice, a sizzling meat on a hot plate and other tricks. In the end, the taste buds come to us, with which we judge whether it is delicious and whether we continue to eat.

Especially when it comes to gourmet cuisine, where colors are combined, contrasts are made, it is painted on the plate, the eyes have a very important role for giving a high or average assessment to the Chef’s efforts.

gourmet and fovea

This is all about the fovea. It is something we all have in our eyes and we do not even realize it. But for it to work, it needs light.

We’re going back to high school for a little, in biology class, to explain where this precious thing is hiding.

Do you know why we don’t bump into furniture when we go to the bathroom in the dark?

The human eye can see in twilight, but then our vision is very close to the monochrome perception-i.e. one color and several of its tints.

About our eyesight in twilight are responsible the rods in the eye, but they are not so picky about colors and cannot convey much information to the brain about them. The colorful part of the world is taken care by the cones. They are concentrated mainly around and in the fovea. The latter is a very tiny dent in the back of our eye, not greater than 1.5 mm. Of these, 0.55 mm do not have any blood vessels around to absorb all the light there without any distractions. Just for this reason, the image that is perceived by this part is in the greatest detail. And to stand out all the colours in their various shades are utilized some 0.35 mm, which are equipped only with cones. If there is not enough light, the cones stop working and transfer the job to the rods.

Here is an illustration of the device of the human eye where you can see where the fovea is located.

Human eye device, source aniridiabg.eu

So, in order to see well what we’re about to put in our mouths, it’s good to have enough light, not to guess in the dark. And it is absolutely obligatory for the gourmet cuisine, otherwise the masterpiece on the plate will remain underrated.

Let’s not forget about people like me who write and evaluate restaurants, as well as all other enthusiasts who can’t eat if they don’t post their food on Facebook and Instagram. 😊 We all know that light is needed for a beautiful photograph. It is clear that you can use flash, but it distorts the colors of the image and makes unpleasant shadows. At the same time, no editing software can catch up with the lack of light at shooting. It is not good for the restaurant if the frames with their dishes are blurry, dark and without contrast. Some of the videos that I show on my blog and my YouTube channel have poor quality for a reason, the lighting wasn’t strong enough to make the photos beautiful.

Dave Whamond
Dave Whamond, Calgary, Canada, www.davewhamond.com

If you have a fine dining restaurant and offer gourmet cuisine, and you want the customers to appreciate appropriately  the efforts of the team  in the kitchen, it would be best to consult a very good lighting specialist and designer to recommend you exactly how much lumens to emit the sources in the dining room and kitchen, how to be located and in which spectrum to glow.

And if you have raised the bar even higher and strive to apply the principles of the Experience Economy[ii], it is even more important that the “stage” of your “spectacle”[iii] that you perform for the client, is well lit up in the exact places where the main action is developed.

So, let there be light!

You can learn more about the Experience economy, from the specially dedicated to it category in my blog. I applied examples from Bulgaria and the world which describe it best.

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[i] https://www.britannica.com/science/lux

[ii] “The Experience Economy” by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, updated edition, Harvard Business Review Press Boston, Massachusetts


[iii] 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: “Biological Psychology”, James W. Kalat, North Carolina State University

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