How Your Fork Influences Food's Taste

It's not just your imagination. Eating food with a heavy silver fork or a plastic utensil does make what you're eating taste better--or worse.

The shape, color, size and weight of the cutlery you use has an effect on the food's flavor, according to researchers from the University of Oxford in England.

Some tasty facts to know and tell:

  • Cutlery shape: Cheese tastes saltier when eaten from a knife rather than a fork, spoon or toothpick.

  • Cutlery color: A white plastic spoon, rather than a black spoon, not only makes white yogurt taste better and sweeter, but also makes the texture seem denser. However, black plastic spoons make pink yogurt taste better.

  • Cutlery size: Food tastes sweeter on small spoons that are traditionally used to serve desserts.

  • Cutlery weight: When the weight of the cutlery conforms to expectations, it impacts how the food tastes. Specifically, heavier cutlery, such as silver, is associated with better food.

How can this be? The brain makes judgments about food before it even goes in your mouth.

Led by Dr. Charles Spence and Dr. Vanessa Harrar, the Oxford team recruited more than 100 college students to participate in three different experiments that examined the effect of cutlery's weight, color, size and shape on the taste of food.

"How we experience food is a multisensory experience involving taste, feel of the food in our mouths, aroma and the feasting of our eyes," Spence told the BBC News. "Even before we put food into our mouths our brains have made a judgment about it, which affects our overall experience."

So what? Understanding how the brain influences food perceptions could not only help dieters to eat less, but also improve gastronomic experiences at restaurants.

"There's a lot more to food than what's on the plate," Spence explained to the BBC. "Many things we thought didn't matter do. We're going to see a lot more of neuroscience design around mealtimes."

The study findings were published in the journal Flavour.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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