There is no conception in man's mind
which hath not at first, totally or in parts,
been begotten upon by the organs of sense.
---Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Culinary Science and the Senses

Why are chilies "hot"? Why does salt make chocolate taste better? Why did that tragic spaghetti incident when I was four ruin spaghetti for me? Why is the taste map that we all learned in 9th grade biology HORRIBLY WRONG? Why does (did) airplane food taste so bland?

This blog is for foodies and scientists, because I am both. In fact, I belong to that field known ambiguously as Culinary Science and Molecular Gastronomy. I have previously studied both Culinary Arts and Food Science, and am currently working on a PhD in Sensory Evaluation.

Sensory Evaluation is the scientific discipline of evoking, measuring, analyzing, and interpreting people's responses to any sort of sensory stimulus, and in my case that stimulus is more often that not food. Sounds a lot like what a chef does, because it is.

The purpose of this blog is to bring to light sensory phenomenon surrounding everyday life. Those who study culinary arts already understand the importance of chemistry. It only follows that the mastery of the senses will help chefs and home cooks alike elevate the intended culinary experience.

I hope that those who work with food find this information interesting and applicable, from the home cook to the restaurant chef, and finally I hope those sensory scientists out there learn something about how sensory concepts can be applied outside of the large food companies and academic labs.


  1. I didn't know that you weren't a big fan of spaghetti, either. What was the horrible incident? Was I involved?

    Looking forward to following - I put you on my blogroll! Yeah, whatever, you were first, OK. Matt commented on mine for the first time today - we'll hook him in with both of ours.

    So what do you make of the tuna salad???

  2. Love these originating thoughts. Caring more about what we eat and why is one of my favorite things people do.

  3. Hey Marilyn! Good to see you're writing again. I do hope that people care more about why they eat the way they do, at least how it relates to the senses.

  4. Hey Micheal... i m looking forward for your up coming post... there is actually too much question about food/ingredients... like the idea or your blog tho... keep it coming... ;)