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Music 'enhances flavours of food'

sydney , Fri, 27 Apr 2012 ANI

Sydney, Apr 27 (ANI): A range of sensory responses - taste, touch, sight, smell and sound - amalgamate to add to our enjoyment when we eat and drink, according to a new study.

Oxford University psychologist Charles Spence, who works with top chefs including Britain's Heston Blumenthal and Spain's Ferran Adria, conducted the laboratory experiments that led to the creation of Blumenthal's signature dish, "the sounds of the sea", at his British restaurant The Fat Duck.

The dish is a delicate seafood creation with a twist - diners are provided with a set of headphones to listen to seaside sounds like crashing waves while eating.

Some diners were moved to tears by the experience, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Professor Spence's laboratory team played sounds of the sea to people eating oysters, while other diners listened to generic restaurant noises or more obtuse farmyard sounds like clucking chickens.

"We were able to show that people rate the oyster significantly more pleasant when they have the sounds of the sea in the background," Spence said.

Spence is presently working with Blumenthal's team to inspire a dish featuring bitter and sweet flavours, with a matching soundtrack.

The research asks participants to match bitter and sweet flavours with musical instruments and different pitches.

Most people choose low-pitched sounds, and brass instruments, in response to bitter tastes like dark chocolate or coffee, the professor said.

Meanwhile, a sweet or citrus taste was commonly associated with a more high-pitched, tinkling piano.

Coffee chain Starbucks has even enlisted composers to create music, based on Spence's research, to accompany coffee.

The plethora of aromas and flavours associated with wine provides potential to design music to match, Spence said.

Experiments are also in progress on the source of the soundtrack.

While 'sounds of the sea' diners are offered headphones, Spence hypothesised that it would be perfect to make dishes, plates and glasses that, when tilted, start playing music. (ANI)

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