Did you know that your guilty-pleasure slice of cheesecake would taste 20% sweeter if you ate it off a round white plate rather than a square one, or that coffee tastes twice as intense — but only two-thirds as sweet — when it is drunk from a white mug rather than a clear, glass one?
Research has shown that taste accounts for only 1% of the information we store in our brain; therefore, if you start paying attention to what’s around you while you eat you can completely change your sensory experience. What you hear while eating, the way you see your food, and how you eat it, all affect the way you taste it.
Masters of play, Studio H, a culinary-minded experience from a brand-design studio based in Cape Town, are obsessed with everything that influences taste. Through this obsession — and a lot of research — they are constantly pushing culinary and sensory boundaries with the experience they curate to impart a “moment of complete gastronomic satisfaction”, as outlined by pre-eminent US food writer, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher in her 1937 essay, The Pale Yellow Glove.
Wanted has worked with Studio H to create an experimental menu, complete with sensory toolkits, in an effort to inspire you to create your own “moment of complete gastronomic satisfaction”. Prepare to drink blindfolded, listen to clucking chickens, and see spice through rose-tinted glasses, as we use science and psychology to actually play with your food in a way your mother will approve.
Let us know if you experienced the difference in taste at @wantedonlinesa on Twitter and Instagram and @studio_HV on Twitter or @studio_h_ on Instagram.
Salty kale chips
Paired with: Our recording of white noise from flight BA6429, travelling from Johannesburg to Cape Town on April 1 2017.
1 bunch, fresh kale
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp coarse sea salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 180°C. After washing and drying your kale leaves, use
a knife to separate the green kale leaves from the thick ribs, and discard the ribs. Cut or tear the kale leaves into your desired chip size, keeping in mind that they will shrink while baking.
Combine the cut kale leaves, oil and ¼ teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Then use your hands to toss and massage the kale for one to two minutes until it is soft and slightly darker.
Spread out the kale in a single layer on parchment-covered baking sheets and sprinkle over the remaining salt.
Bake in the oven for seven to 10 minutes or until the kale is crunchy, then remove and serve immediately.
The chips can a be stored in a sealed container for up to one week.
Grab a few handfuls of your desired salty treat and enjoy the savoury crunch. Now explore the effect the white noise has on the taste of the food by playing the plane’s soundtrack while you sample a few more bites.
Research shows that white noise reduces the salty taste of food, but increases the measure of crunch; Nasa addresses this problem by serving its space explorers extra strong-tasting foods to compensate. This could also be the reason for the bland and lacklustre food sometimes served on aeroplanes, and the answer to the mysterious crunch sometimes found in the scrambled eggs. Perhaps.
Bacon Deviled Eggs
Paired with: Bacon and chicken soundtracks.
6 eggs, hard-boiled
2 Tbsp yoghurt
1½ tsp spicy mustard
½ tsp lemon juice
Paprika, a pinch to taste
Crispy bacon crumbs
Seasonal herbs, chopped
Cut hard-boiled eggs in half and pop out the yolks. Mash the yolks together with the yoghurt, spicy mustard, lemon juice, and paprika.
Fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture and top with chopped herbs and crumbled crispy bacon.
Serve half of your starter with the accompanying sounds of sizzling bacon and the other to the tunes of clucking chickens. Those who heard the tones of the hot pork fat will have a far more prominent bacon taste to their meal, proving that sound can enhance the experience of flavour.
Paired with: Red-lensed paper glasses.
500g fresh fillet of kingklip, skin off, and bones removed (You can also use tuna or salmon)
5 limes, juiced and zested
2 African bird’s eye chilies, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 bunch coriander, chopped
3 radishes, thinly sliced
50g fresh coconut, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
1 bunch micro greens
Using a very sharp knife, thinly slice the kingklip and place in a mixing bowl.
In another bowl, combine lime juice and zest, chili, spring onion, red onion, tomato, mango, and coriander. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Add marinade to the fish and mix carefully. Set aside for about 20 minutes.
To serve, arrange fish slices on a platter, and scatter over radish, coconut, mayonnaise, and micro greens. Drizzle remainder of marinade over the fish.
*This recipe was supplied by Nando’s, and was developed specifically for an experiential dinner at Nando’s Central Kitchen.
See red and control your spice levels: research shows that food will taste spicier when the diner is wearing red-tinted glasses or eating under a red light.
Dark chocolate truffles
Paired with: Bitter and sweet soundtracks.
125ml heavy cream
220g 70% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
250g cocoa powder, for dusting
In a saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium-low to low heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it stand for 10 minutes to melt the chocolate.
Add the vanilla and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature, 30 minutes to one hour.
Beat the chocolate at medium speed, using an electric mixer, until it is thick and light coloured. If the chocolate has cooled enough, it will be ready to form truffles right away. If the chocolate is still too soft to hold its shape when rolled into a ball, spread over the bottom of a baking dish and refrigerate for up to two hours until firm, but still scoopable.
Pour the cocoa powder onto a deep plate. Use a small ice cream scoop or melon baller to scoop the chocolate and gently roll into a ball. P
lace the balls on the plate with the cocoa powder and roll between two forks to completely coat with the powder.
Then use the forks to carefully transfer the truffles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave to set. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for three days, or freeze for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge overnight.
Research shows that when listening to high notes, like the tinkling of a piano, you can enhance the sweetness in food; conversely, when listening to lower bass-like or brassy sounds, the bitterness in dark chocolate or coffee notes in food are enhanced.
AFTER-DINNER DRINKS, SIGHT
Blind drinks tasting
Paired with: Blindfold (make your own with pieces of dark, off-cut fabric).
1 bottle white wine
1 bottle red wine
1 bottle fresh milk
Place each beverage in identical glasses, without your guests seeing which is which. Let them taste the white wine, red wine, and a glass of milk while blindfolded.
We really do eat and drink with our eyes. It is guaranteed that most people will not be able to identify any of the three beverages or, at best, will recognise only one of them. There’s always one show-off, isn’t there?