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Does Food Presentation Affect Taste? Here's the Truth!

Does Food Presentation Affect Taste? Here's the Truth!

You're wondering whether food presentation affects taste, and you aren't alone. This has been the subject of many studies over the past several decades. Could food presentation actually affect your perception of taste?

Food presentation does, in fact, affect how food tastes. Scientists have concluded that our sight has a great influence on how we experience taste. If food is not presented in an attractive way, that will affect our overall perception of how the food tastes.

If you want to know more about how food presentation affects taste, then you're in the right place. Keep on reading for more!

Food Presentation Affects Taste

Food presentation is known to affect the way something tastes. If your food is delivered to your table with a sauce that appears unappetizing, this could affect how you perceive the food's taste.

This is also the case in contrasting situations where the food looks like it was crafted by angels in heaven- if the food looks good, it may taste a little better to you.

According to Terry E. Acree, Ph.D., a speaker at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, people are able to "see" how food tastes before they even take a bite of it.

From Acree's words directly, we can infer that our eyes play a part in how foods ultimately taste to us. The way foods look can help us determine whether we like them or not, from a taste standpoint.

How Shape Affects Taste

It may seem ridiculous, but it has been observed that the shape of food items has an effect on how it tastes. 

A chocolatier, Alasdair Garnsworthy, knows without a doubt that shape affects taste. Because of that, he makes sure that the shapes of his chocolate mesh well with the flavor that he is trying to create.

So, right when he starts crafting a new flavor, he considers how long the shape will take to melt in the mouth. If he wants a flavor to come on slowly, he'll form it into a shape that will take a while to melt in the mouth. Conversely, when he's working with flavors that he wants to come through strong, he'll choose a shape that melts quickly.

How Color Affects Taste

Color also affects taste, and the following studies provide evidence.

The Colored Drink

When participants of a study tasted drinks that were changed to a color other than what was familiar, they were not always able to correctly name the drink. Conversely, when they drank the same drinks in the correct color, they were able to correctly name the drink 100% of the time.

The Wine Test

To further demonstrate the power of our sight and food presentation, a study was conducted with wine. The color of white wine was changed to red with food coloring (which had no flavor), and people were asked for their opinion of how it tastes.

The result of the study was that when people tasted the white wine, they tasted flavors that you'd expect from red wine. Their eyes had tricked their taste buds into tasting something that was not even there.

How to Make Food Look Good

What you do with this information will depend on who you are. For those who are in food service, it's crucial to remember that the way that food is presented can have a considerable effect on how a customer experiences the flavors in the food.

So, you'd do well to make sure every meal that's delivered to a customer looks delectable.

Here are some steps that you can take to make your dishes look delicious:

  • Plan ahead: Have a mental picture in your head of how you want your plate to look like in the end.
  • Incorporate the unconventional: The white plate can come off a little bland. If you want to get adventurous and surprise your customer, opt for a plate of a different shape, material, or color.
  • Garnish:¬†Take your dish up a level with well-placed edible leaves and herbs. Your customer's eyes will eat that up!
  • Know your colors: The colors red, orange, and yellow are known to make some hungry with a passion. Green gives people the impression that what they are eating is healthy.

When your customers like the way that their food looks, they are more likely to enjoy the taste of it.

Note: If you are trying to get a picky eater to eat some vegetables, consider making the meal a bit more visually appealing. You can try cutting your child's veggies into silly shapes or chopping them up and strategically decorating the plate with them. Your picky eater may start to believe that vegetables are not so bad after all!

Food Presentation's Effect on Taste is Limited

While food presentation can have a large impact on taste, in some situations, a food's appearance doesn't matter at all when it comes to taste.

For instance, we love to eat a ton of things that are not appetizing to the eye - think blood sausage, chicken feet, or hog head cheese. These foods are not the most visually appetizing, but people all over the world eat them with pleasure.

Yet, the way food is presented still has a very real effect on how we perceive its taste.

Food presentation's effect on taste has its limits is because of the fact that there are other factors that affect how something tastes. The next section will look at this in detail.

Other Factors That Affect Taste

Aside from food presentation, there are many other factors that affect how food tastes, and we will examine some of them in this section.

  • How hungry you are: When you're hungry, not only does everything taste a little bit better, but you may experience a heightened perception of both¬†sweetness and saltiness.
  • When you last ate:¬†If it's only been a couple of hours since you last ate, you won't taste food as much as you would have if you'd waited longer.
  • Chemicals from smoking: The chemicals in cigarettes are not good for your taste buds. After you smoke, you won't be able to taste food as well as you used to.
  • Pregnancy: When a woman is pregnant, many things may not taste normal to her. This is precisely why pregnant women have odd cravings.
  • How hot the food is: If you try to eat food while it's still piping hot, you won't taste much of anything. Also, when you try to taste a frozen treat, you may not be able to taste bitterness or sourness as well as you would have otherwise.
  • Disease: Certain medical conditions can throw off your taste buds, making it impossible to taste certain flavors. Cancer is one of the main diseases that affect the taste.
  • Whether you're suffering from a cold or flu: When people have a cold or flu, this messes with their sense of taste. While the tastebuds are unaffected by these sicknesses, the sense of smell is, and when you lose your sense of smell, you're unable to taste as effectively.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are many other factors that affect the way food tastes.

Final Thoughts

You may have gathered by this point that the way a food looks has a measurable effect on how it tastes. We hope that this article was of help to you in your pursuit of information on food science.