A soundtrack for your meal

Research carried out by Unilever in collaboration with the University of Manchester has revealed that background sound heard during a meal can affect how your food tastes.

Blindfolded participants were fed a range of sweet and savoury foods, whilst listening to the white noise from a detuned radio, through headphones. They then rated the intensity of flavours and how much they liked them.

The results proved that people lose their sense of taste when listening to something they don’t like and when they heard something they did like, it improved. This could explain the bad reputation of airline food, where the drone of the engines may interfere with the pleasure of eating.

A second piece of research found that sound also affects the perception of a food’s freshness and palatability. Salads may be perceived as crunchier if accompanied by louder music, whereas a restaurant serving salty food could turn the background music down to reduce the need for additional salt in their food.

If anything this study shows that noise tends to move attention away from the food and distorts the brain’s ability to accurately gauge the senses. At the end of the day it comes down to personal choice and eating a lovely meal is as much about your surrounding environment, as the food itself.

Personally I like to listen to something soothing and gentle whilst eating; music by the Gotan Project is a favourite of mine.

So what’s the perfect soundtrack to your meal?

by Jon. May 2014.

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