Every time I watch "When Sally met Harry" I am reminded of the time when Meg Ryan's character demonstrates a moment of elation in the restaurant. This act leaves other restaurateurs wanting to have "whatever she has had," in the hope that the pleasure induced by the sight, taste, texture, smell and flavour of their food will provide them with an organoleptic experience of equal intensity.
Top chefs are masters at evoking organoleptic experiences by using different environments, flavours, textures, sights and smells in a variety of foods to stimulate the eaters' senses. By utilising our entire sensory range, the meal can be enjoyed on a variety of levels. Such emotional responses for food are rarely seen these days. We lead such busy lives, and our time is precious. We lunch at our desk, in the car or in front of the TV, whilst being bombarded with a multitude of distractions, with scant regard for what we are eating, says Abigail Wilson CEO of IsosHealth.com Our senses are being overloaded with external and poor culinary stimuli resulting in a limited organoleptic experience of our meal. Not allowing our loved ones and ourselves the ultimate organoleptic experience, denies us the true pleasure of what can be enjoyed over a meal.
5 Tips to an Organoleptic Valentines Meal
1. Presentation is everything (Sight)
The way our food looks is just as important as how we present ourselves. Remember we eat with our eyes. Whoever thought a cardboard box or newspaper held the key to a delightful meal? A well-laid table provides the introduction to what is to be a delightful evening.
Presentation of the meal is just as important; with the size of the plate to the colour of the meal having an effect on how appealing the meal is to the eye (and stomach). To enhance the attractiveness of a meal, look to include a variety of colours. This will not only look and taste more appetising but have the added bonus of ensuring a variety of nutrients is provided.
2. Smell is the gateway to the stomach (Smell)
Ever walked into a room where a pot of coffee is brewing or fresh bread has just been made? Can you remember the smell and feeling this invoked? The aroma of food can be detected from a distance and can invoke many feelings and memories. A meal that is flavoursome to smell as well as taste can offer a life-time of memories and sensations. The use of herbs and spices will provide a variety of aromas and stimulate the taste buds.
3. Set the scene (Mood/Sound)
Turn off the TV, turn down the lights and turn on soft slow music. This is a time old practice in restaurants as soft slow music entices the eater to stay for longer (and spend more). Taking time to concentrate on your meal will allow you to enjoy your meal and company. It is known that eating in front of the TV or in bright, noisy environments are distractions and can lead to you eat about 10% more calories at a meal time, as you are not paying attention to what you are eating or when you are full.
4. Keep it Ying and Yang (Taste)
The taste and texture of a food can strongly effect how much we enjoy our meal. Do you remember your grandmothers over cooked rubbery vegetables or the first time you were given an under seasoned curry? Foods that are not well seasoned or their texture is not consistent with your expectations will have an adverse impact on the taste and enjoyment of the meal.
5. Never too hot or never too cold (Touch)
The final tip to optimising your Valentines meal is to get the timing right. This can be a true balancing act, with trying to get all the ingredients and parts of the meal prepared at the same time. A meal too hot can scorch the mouth or too cold is unpalatable. Inviting your partner into the kitchen to help prepare the meal may be one way to enhance the experience of the enjoyment of the meal and dinner.
Wishing you all a most enjoyable organoleptic Valentines x