Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Blind dining

No recipe today, but some food for thought.

Yesterday evening, I took part in an event called Dining in the Dark here in Manchester. Along with another 7 or 8 food bloggers, we were there to taste the new menus at the local branch of the Living Room chain. The twist was that we did it blindfolded.

I was confident that I'd be able to identify lots of flavours and ingredients. In fact it was harder than expected. Much harder. Between tastings we could remove our blindfolds and write down what we thought we were eating or drinking (for there were cocktails too). At the end we passed our sheets to our neighbour for marking. I scored a paltry 8.5 out of 40. Even the winner, a very deserving one, managed only 14. (We did have some disagreements with the Living Room about the difference between flavours and ingredients!)

So much of how we eat is visual - we see what's on the plate and we know what to expect. Our tastebuds ready themselves. Even before the food arrives, we've chosen from the menu or, at home, have decided what to cook. There is anticipation.

And then there is smell - our noses also help us to recognise what we are eating, even alerting us when food has gone off. Experts say 90% of what we taste is in fact smell. With the blindfold on, though, I felt like I'd lost not one sense but two - my ability to smell also seemed impaired. And without those, my tastebuds became confused. A coconut and passion fruit crème brulée tasted of the vanilla and sugar I expected with a hint of brandy. How wrong I was.

I did best with the Glamorgan vegetarian sausages above and also the Thai curry.

It was a lot of fun and a stark reminder that eating isn't just about taste. It's about much more - touch and sound also can play a role.

Thanks to the Living Room for their hospitality - I'm more of an "old-fashioned boozer" type of drinker but if you stop by for their food, the new menu is not bad at all.
Enhanced by Zemanta