Flavour Behaviour – The Evening Standard/The Guerilla Scientist’s Flavour FeastPosted: August 9, 2010
Hello. I’m delighted to have been featured in an Evening Standard article about the behaviour of flavour and eccentric food combinations written by the brilliant Liz Hoggard. You can read all about it here.
Sampling a crazy feast at The Secret Garden Party I was given a lesson in how key the whole orchestra of smell, sight, sound, texture and hormones really are when it comes to flavour.
Seated around a dining table in the middle of a field with the beautiful and the bedraggled we devoured a gigantic jelly brain, section by section whilst engaging young neuroscientist, Zarinah Agnew explained the differing functions of each – an unforgettable experience.
We were then instructed to clamp our nostrils in a blind tasting of Skittles, and found our tastebuds rendered completely numb. We painted our tongues with blue dye and poked them out at one another in order to count the number of undyed tastebuds – an abundance was indicative of a “supertaster” (one with a heightened palate and increased sensitivity to flavour).We sniffed fruitlessly at lurid green test tubes of raspberry and electric blue ones of apple in an attempt to identify what on earth these might be. When served dishes of tender scarlet spheres of agar agar, without its familiar healthy crunch, it was impossible to pick out the intense taste of celery. Our heads were further messed with when we were poured and asked to describe glasses of red wine. The ever-predictable “berries”, “leather” and “tobacco” were suggested, and we were later astonished to learn that we had in fact been sipping a crisp dry white, that had been dyed. An absolutely genius way of being forced to confront our visual preconceptions and the dominance of the brain over the tongue.
Dessert was a drinking yoghurt from the future. Filled with disease-detecting bacteria, these are able to indicate potential illness by altering the colour of what emerges at the other end, according to a spectrum of malady printed on each bottle. This turned out to be no more than Yakult, but was a great example of how the bacteria (which is currently in development) might be used in the future. Radical stuff indeed, and much more fun than being stuck in some stuffy restaurant.
The Big Chill festival was host to a Ziggurat of flavour this year. I love the idea of being able to inhale my 5 a day and the fact that it was in conjunction with Fairtrade is a massive plus. In recent years festivals have really tapped in to the whole food scene and now most have stalls that could rival any farmers market. They seem to be about so much more than just the music these days, and there are now as many experiences to be had with the mouth as there are with the ears.