- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Viking (June 20, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0735223467
- ISBN-13: 978-0735223462
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating
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“A chatty whirl through the latest discoveries and their real-world applications, roughly organized by the five senses and different dining situations, Mr. Spence’s book is far from a systematic treatise on gastrophysics.”
—Wall St Journal
“[A] delicious explainer”
"fascinating...[Spence] considers everything from marketing and cognitive neuroscience to
design and behavioral economics to get the scoop on how our brains process the food on
“Spence has a light touch and a knack for framing research questions in provocative headings: 'What's the link,' he asks, 'between the humble tomato and aircraft noise?' It's a question worth pondering should you have the dubious pleasure of being served an in-flight meal, just as you'll learn here why the barista at Starbucks puts your name on the cup (hint: it's not really a memory aid for said barista). A sharp, engaging education for food consumers and a font of ideas for restaurateurs and chefs as well."—Kirkus
“If simply changing the name of a dish on a menu or the color of the plate on which it is served can dramatically alter our perception of taste and food quality, then everyone in the restaurant industry needs to read this and take a deeper look at the scientific secrets Professor Spence reveals in Gastrophysics.”—Larry Olmsted, New York Times bestselling author of Real Food, Fake Food: What You Don’t Know About What You’re Eating & What You Can Do About It
“Popular science at its best. Insightful, entertainingly written and peppered throughout with facts you can use in the kitchen, in the classroom, or in the pub."—Daniel J. Levitin, New York Times bestselling author of The Organized Mind and This Is Your Brain on Music
“Spence allows people to appreciate the multisensory experience of eating.”—The New Yorker
“Not many people are as ready to realize the importance of the senses as Charles Spence.”—Ferran Adrià, El Bulli restaurant, Spain
“Can’t fail to entertain, inform, and dazzle.”—Heston Blumenthal, The Fat Duck restaurant, UK
“A fascinating look at the science of food and how our perception is shaped by all our senses, not just taste.”—Sunday Times (UK)
“Gastrophysics serves up a mind-bending menu of fascinating insights.”—Observer (UK)
About the Author
Charles Spence is the head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the University of Oxford. He has consulted for multinational companies including Toyota and ICI, advising on various aspects of multisensory design, packaging, and branding. He has featured frequently in Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Forbes, Barron's, and The Atlantic. He is the co-author, with Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, of a college textbook, The Perfect Meal.
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Top customer reviews
Who knew the act of eating could be so complex? Every one of the five senses plays major role in our experience. Each one gets its own chapter to start the book off in a highly detailed and instructive, not to say addictive manner. Smell works in two areas – before the food enters the mouth and at the back of the throat. Smell alone has a direct connection to the brain, giving it by far the most influence on our appreciation. Taste, by comparison, is a weakling limited to five sensations. Food in motion (bacon sizzling, cheese flowing, yolks oozing) is a proven irresistible visual in advertising.
There are endless experiments restaurants have tried. In order to get everyone in a good mood, one placed mooing cylinders (and nothing else) on its tables. With nothing else to fiddle with, people picked them up, tilted them, and they mooed, quickly causing everyone in the room to do the same, with resultant universal laughter. Controlling the setting is critical, which is why some high end places make you drive 50 miles out of town, and others in the city center allow no windows at all. All these and hundreds more factors are proven motivators of the palate.
Unfortunately, we don’t remember food as much as the experience. We remember the setting, the service, the lighting, and the comfort better than the food itself. This is frustrating for super chefs, and they constantly to try to improve the memorability factor, not with the food, but with sideshows. In a nod back at supper clubs with floor shows, they use gimmicks like mp3 players, aroma sprays, live musicians, motorized dessert carts and robot servers to make the event memorable. This leads to a problem with the book: the last third is all about these extraneous attempts to make events memorable, well outside the scope of gastrophysics. The potential of battery-operated forks and fur-covered spoons is beyond. Another problem with Gastophysics is that it is mostly about the superrich restaurateurs. Spence loves citing world-renown establishments, constantly and repeatedly. The kind of places that charge upwards of £300/$400 (and up to £1000) for a set tasting. They are his peeps. But they are the exception. Also, the many soft, black and white images are less than appetizing. Finally, Spence has a nasty habit of overusing exclamation points! Oddly for a scientist so finely attuned to the subtleties of fine tuning, their use is confusing and distracting!
The overall impression is overwhelming, making Gastrophysics a go-to reference for the food industry. And yes, you can and should try these things at home.
Gastrophysics conglomerates different disciplines such as experimental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, sensory science, neurogastronomy, marketing, design, and behavioral economics. Don’t get discourage about all this plethora of science; the book is easy to understand.
Who Does Gastrophysics affect?
Many modernist chefs are first to try Gastrophysicists discoveries to create multisensory dishes. Moreover, modernist restaurants use this knowledge to keep relevancy in the culinary scene.
At some point, even if you don’t visit these Michelin-starred restaurants, you’ll receive the influence of gastrophysics, because the discoveries at the gastrophysics lab will pass to the modernist restaurants and later to the mainstream through the food and beverage companies.
Food vs Service
Spence tells the story of a chef that wanted to know what his diners remembered of the fabulous meals he served.
The chef sent a questionnaire to his guests a couple of weeks after they have eaten at his restaurant. Surprise! The diners answered they remembered the experience, the meal not so much, not the specific ingredients and flavor combinations the chef worked hard to create.
The diners remembered the surprising and/or unusual aspect of the service such as when the waitress sprayed some aroma over their dish. Furthermore, the experience was memorable, no doubt the guests enjoyed the food, but the factors that may them come back are the combination of delicious food and great service.
5 Senses: Food Flavor Enhancers | Multisensory Dishes
The multisensory experience is happening whether we are aware of it or not. Furthermore, the researchers have found more connections between the senses than they ever realized.
Many Chefs, restaurateurs, and the food and drink industry know the atmosphere affects everything. They have the interest on influencing people’s behavior for different reasons, thanks to Gastrophysics.
Chefs focus on food, but also they work to influence the environment to make a memorable experience for the guests enough for them to comment and recommend their restaurants.
Modernist restaurants use plenty of resources to keep on top of people’s memory with jaw-dropping effects, and they go to an extent that will depend on your budget to recreate the same experience at your dinner party.
According to Charles Spence, the food and beverage industry funds widely the Crossmodal Research Laboratory. They work closely to quantify how much the atmosphere influences people’s rating of taste, flavor, and preference.
People involved with food and beverage businesses focus on different factors to improve the experience of their clients and increase their sales.
Different aspects applied such as the art of food plating, the music at a restaurant or a supermarket, the packaging of food, the service, to keep client’s loyalty and increase the business revenue, but the advances on Gastrophysics research take all that experimentation to a whole new level.
How the mind and senses help to enhance food flavor is complex and fascinating. Even if we are unaware of gastrophysics, chefs, restaurateurs, and the food and beverage industry are paying attention, and using all the research results Gastrophysicists have discovered, and so can you now.
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