Heston Blumenthal is an English celebrity chef, famous for his Michelin star restaurants and his scientific approach to cooking. You may have spotted him on the television show Masterchef, where his complex recipes have been amongst the trickiest challenges! Heston is well-known for approaching food as a multi-sensory experience, arguing that most people see, smell, hear, touch and taste their food when eating.
One dish that features at Heston’s Fat Duck restaurant focuses particularly on the use of sound to create enhance the experience of food. The ingredients for ‘The Sound of the Sea’ include seafood, kelp and seaweed, which are plated to resemble the seashore. Everything you see on the plate below is edible, right down to the sand! When the waiters bring out the dish, they also bring each diner a small iPod in a conch shell, which plays sounds of seagulls and the ocean waves.
Scientists have been investigating whether particular sounds change our perceptions of taste, and early results seem to show that listening to high pitches enhances sweet flavours while low tones emphasise bitterness. Volume matters too, with a 2011 study indicating that loud background noises can make it more difficult for us to taste sweet and salty flavours. Some interesting food for thought!