For those following this series of articles on ‘multisensory gastronomy’, ‘neurogastronomy’ or ‘gastrophysics’ (a term coined by Professor Charles Spence of Oxford University’s Crossmodal Laboratory), I hope you have begun to develop a much broader understanding of how we as humans not only perceive flavour but also how we appreciate and relate to food. We have looked at the importance of the visual aspects of plating and how this can potentially impact our enjoyment of a meal as well as the importance of sound and how it can affect our dining experience. So now let’s look at something we are all a lot more used to associating with the enjoyment of food – aroma.
What could be better than coming home to the smell of your favourite dish cooking on the stove or in the oven? For me, this would have to be the scent of plain white basmati rice. I can’t specifically say this is related to nostalgia or childhood memories, it’s just an aroma that gets my gastric juices flowing and opens up my appetite, something I believe most readers will be able to relate to with their own food of choice. But is that where it begins and ends? Is the aroma of a food just there for a bit of pre-mastication titillation? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’!