The Loh Down On Science

Harmonious Eating

Is pairing a good wine with cheese a matter of taste or biology?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying, perhaps they're the same thing.

Researchers from Rutgers University say the way certain food combinations make our mouths feel determines many of our mealtime decisions.

Nutritional scientist Paul Breslin calls the mouth a “magnificently sensitive organ.” So you might think that when rough astringent substances like wine or tea combine with their sensory opposites, slippery fats, conflict would occur. But apparently not. 

Researchers had volunteers alternate sips of astringent foods like green tea and grapeseed extract with bites of fatty meat. Some astringent solutions were more concentrated than others. And what most volunteers reported was a mouthful. They said that even the weakest of the astringents decreased the oral sensation of fattiness, basically creating a gastronomic yin and yang.

This need for oral harmony may explain why oil-and-vinegar dressings and even burgers with sodas are so appealing.

Of course none of this will ever explain what’s up with deep-fried Twinkies. Ah, remember them?

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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