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12th March 2014

Soul music for soul food?

Can carefully selected transcendental rhythms really enhance out gastronomic experience?

Last week a phycology study came out of the University of Arkansas about the impact of background music and its effect on the taste of food. The essential thesis initially drew me in as it occurred to me that maybe there is a connection between by insatiable appetite for cheese and the fact that I listen to Bruce Springsteen for about 13 hours a day. Sadly the report concluded that until further research is conducted, musical genres cannot be broken down into particular artists.

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The study did conclude that jazz makes milk chocolate taste measurably better, whilst hip-hop detracts from the taste satisfaction of a Twirl or Flake. I thus took it upon myself to become a guinea pig in this experiment (Guinea Pig is enhanced with Paraguayan-Mestizo polka). First I took that confectionary classic, the Galaxy bar and turned on some Kenny G; allegedly the smoothest things in their respective fields. My findings were that I did actually eat the bar faster than usual, but instead of savouring the chocolate, I was scoffing in order to get Kenny off Spotify (I don’t have any Kenny G on my iTunes).

With the theory under strain after the first test I broke out the big guns—Lindt and the Dave Brubeck Quartet.  It was here that I read between the lines of the report; if you get yourself some really good food and some really good music and listen whilst you eat, you will have a thoroughly enjoyable experience. This idea held actually held up as I consequently tripped out on eating a Crunchie whilst listening to Cold Lampin’ with Flavor smashing their hip-hop theory asunder.

After having clambered out of a jungle of wrappers and rappers, I set my mind to music in restaurants. The bottom line is that a restaurant has to be financially viable to survive, so a study of this kind could be of some use if music could contribute to enticing the punters into opting for a pricy ceviche starter, Chateaubriand main, or show stopping Crockenbush dessert. However how far would restaurateurs go? If the next instalment of the study said the tomato ragu tastes substantially better whilst eaten to brass music, would Giorgio Lochetti be seeking the finest Bavarian Oompah house band in all the land? The potentially insane combinations are literally endless, I mean Escargot and Chaz and Dave?

It is undeniable that there is more to food and eating than just our palate. The company, environment, our personal psychological and physical state all contribute to our perception of the pleasantness of food. Yet my final conclusion came whilst wading through the highfalutin scientific material. I could not help but think that almost any culinary concoction on God’s green earth is enhanced to levels of biblical deliciousness after spending all night attempting to dance at Mint Lounge’s Itchy Feet—swing and fried chicken anyone?


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