If you see a pink food, the immediate assumption by most people is that it probably tastes like strawberries. If you see a brown looking food which is obviously sweet, most of us probably already have a chocolate image in our heads. White sweet foods will most likely trigger thoughts of vanilla for most of us.
Terry E. Acree, Ph.D, a Professor of Food Science at Cornell University in New York, who was presenting at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society showed that people can see flavours before eating them.
Professor Acree said; “There have been important new insights into how people perceive food flavours. Years ago, taste was a table with two legs – taste and odor. Now we are beginning to understand that flavour depends on parts of the brain that involve taste, odor, touch and vision. The sum total of these signals, plus our emotions and past experiences, result in perception of flavours, and determine whether we like or dislike specific foods.”
Tests have been done on assessing the role that eyesight plays in the taste of food. One such test involved asking people to drink a white wine with distinct flavor notes and then drinking the same win but coloured red. Those being tested were found to only taste the flavours of red wines and not those of the white.
Our visual perception can also be over ridden, because there are some foods that simply look unpalatable but we love them anyway, especially at some times of the year and in certain cultures. There is a cheese in Italy that should be eaten only when it has been allowed to be full of maggots. As another example, there is a type of egg that is eaten in China that contains a very young chick.
These foods look completely inedible but are loved by those who eat them. The eyes of these people are seeing something that most others do not. They see these foods are being delicious when the rest of us would not touch them.
At university we did a taste test on venison and served exactly the same sample, cooked identically, under different coloured lights. The green light yielded very poor results. It was the eyes of the testers that were deciding what the venison was like before they even tasted it.
The research now being undertaken is confirming that it is not only taste than determines flavor but smell and eyes as well. It seems that the eyes do truly have it.
This article has been written by Rachelle Williams – The Green Food Safety Coach.