Gastrophysics: The Science of Eating

We all eat food, sometimes reluctantly, and sometimes with gusto, it is our mode of survival. The experience of your favourite food just melting in your mouth, the flavours bursting all over your tongue, is a feeling that cannot be described. Yet science always finds a way to outdo itself, presenting to you: Gastrophysics.

Gastrophysics is a medley of several subjects

What exactly is Gastrophysics?

Gastrophysics can be described as a medley of gastronomy and psychophysics, gastronomy being the knowledge and understanding of what a person eats and psychophysics is the branch of psychology that deals with the relation of physical stimulus and mental phenomena. This means people actually research what makes your stomach grumble and groan, but they make food good enough that it is totally worth it. It’s aptly named the science of eating.

You might be shocked to hear; eating isn’t as easy as it sounds. We have been eating our whole lives yet never noticed what makes us eat more? The answer is that everything around us influences our eating habits. How a meal looks, smells, feels, who we are with, even things like how much the cutlery weighs, if we have memories with that food, it all changes what we eat, and how much we eat. This tells us that the pleasure of food lies in the mind and not in the mouth because the taste is not the only main factor. Knowing this helps us improve our appetite, make our food more enjoyable, stimulating and quite memorable.

Applications of Gastrophysics

Gastrophysics is the application of all this, to regulate our eating in a healthy way. The science focuses on the habits and psychology of an individual, just to make better and nutritious food, that tastes better. One of the most innovative ideas is ‘Sonic Seasoning’. We can enhance the taste of food by nearly 15% by using the right background music. For sweetness, we can use high pitched and tinkling music and low pitched and brassy for bitterness. Music for sourness, spiciness and umami also exists.

An example of usage of Gastrophysics

There’s a lot happening in the world of cutlery design. A restaurant, The Fat Duck is currently serving a dish ‘Counting Sheep’, which comes with a fluffy, weighted spoon that smells like baby powder, designed to enhance the eating experience.

This branch of science is ever-expanding, as long as we can tweak with food and as long as thee human brain can be coaxed that it is tasty. People are coming up with new ideas to improve how food tastes by just changing the ambience of the diner. It’s true when people say that you eat with your eyes before your mouth. Just, in this case, we are using all of our senses.

Written By,

Madhav Menon

Student, NIFTEM

While you’re at it, if you want to read about why Palak Paneer is actually bad for you, do check out our article.

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