Sunday, September 21, 2008


I saw a segment on TV the other day with the famous UK chef Heston Blumenthal. He specialises in Molecular Cuisine, where one blends science with gastronomy to produce unusual dishes. He does goofy stuff like making ice cream to order by mixing hot custard with dry ice at your table.

One of his more unusual dishes available at his restaurant (one of 20 courses!) is a dish that looks just like sand with ocean foam lapping over it. (You can see a picture of it here.) It's a seafood dish of course, and he's trying to match the visual to the taste. The real genius to me is that he also delivers iPods to the table (with the iPod hidden inside a conch shell), and patrons listen to the iPod while eating. The iPods play recordings made at the seaside, waves washing up over sand, seagulls, that sort of thing.

His point in the interview was that, with just the taste and the visual, patrons are given the impression of the sea. When you mix the audio in with it, and that audio matches something they've done themselves, suddenly they're applying their own memory to the situation, which dramatically intensifies the dish, and ultimately makes it seem to taste better.

From an interview in the Yorkshire Post:
"We took oysters to the psychology department at Oxford University. Sixty two per cent of people in our tests said the oysters tasted more salty while listening to the noise of the sea. Like it or not, we eat with all our senses."
I think that's what I'm trying to get at in the post Here's One We Prepared Earlier. Your scene might have explorers and adventure and treasure, but adding a little Indiana Jones music might be just the ticket to pick up your scene and install it right in their memories of the movies.

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