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yvonne johnson

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Posts posted by yvonne johnson

  1. What you said a few posts back on this thread was that "all science ever does is explain why they feel that way about it" (the meaning of which I don't understand), and you suggest science isn't very useful.

    A few months ago (in the part I quoted) you said that people's ability to identify the elements in dishes lacks the sophistication of a scientific analysis. Therefore, science is useful.

    And I eat fine. In the main, at the same NY places that you frequent.

  2. Strange how Steve P is dismissing science when just a few months ago he predicted science would bring accurate langauge to the dining experience:

    Excuse me for saying this but, this is only the case because we have left evaluating food to the subjectivity of diners. If before you ordered a steak, they brought a few dozen examples and you were able to plate one and do a quick lab sample to see what had the most trace substances in it, how we refer to food would change. We wouldn't need shortcuts like the word complexity because we would be able to say that my steak was delicious because it had x%blah, y%bleh, and z%bluh combined with a 9% fat content that was spread evenly across the steak. And I am sure that one day eating will entail that process. But until that happens, we use shortcuts to describe things. And pointing out that the terminology is flawed when held up to a scientific standard doesn't tell us anything. Jan, 23, 03


    In the above Steve P seems to be saying that science would provide empirical evidence explaining why a dish tasted delicious.

  3. Maybe, but the sole point is to compare scores on "taste".

    Not my sole point, Yvonne. I'm not a better/worse fetishist :wink: My main interest is in experiencing the flavour, hopefully enjoying it, and if I'm in the mood trying to impart my experience to others.

    I think this thread is moving away from the opening premises and claims (this has never happened before!).

    Macrosan, I don't think anyone would disagree with you--we want to experience, enjoy and impart. What I was describing above was the role of the "gourmet" in the experiment. I'm saying the sole point to the experiment would be to rate the "taste" of dishes (some plainly, others elaborately presented).

    At issue is the argument that diners can somehow extricate taste from context. Research cited on this thread does not support this idea, and the proponents of the argument that this is indeed possible have not put forth any evidence that they can rate dishes holding in abeyance presentation. The proponents simply stick to the belief that this possible.

    G. and I were talking yesterday about an experiment Blumenthal did, I believe. It goes something like this: ice cream will taste different depending on whether the diner strokes sand-paper or velvet while eating. The senses are all intertwined. To be able to leave out tactile (outside of mouth) and visual cues while eating seems near impossible.

  4. For some reason many find the possibility of the scores being higher in the "elaborate presentation" group a threat to balanced restaurant reviews. I don't see it that way as the presentation doesn't constitute the whole, only a part

    No. For some reason you keep confusing restaurant reviewing with tasting. Tasting is a specific thing that happens to be subsumed within restaurant reviewing.

    Steve, I'm not confusing the two. I was repsonding to macrosan's worry that if posters let presentation affect taste then posts on eGullet would have little merit.

  5. To flesh out your Gedankenexperiment, take a 100 gourmets, who are unaware of the nature of the study. Give half of them the elaborate presentation, half the simple. (They should probably not see the alternative presentation.) Have them score the dish on a scale of 1 to 10. A week later repeat the experiment with each gourmet receiving the other presentation. If you didn’t find a statistically significant difference in the taste ratings, I would be stunned.  I would guess that the more elaborate presentation would average between 10% to 20% higher.

    I think the mistake you're making is to suggest that a "gourmet" would simply give a single score for the dish. He would actually, probably without any prompting even on the nature or objectives of the experiment, deliver a score for taste and a separate score for presentation.

    Maybe, but the sole point is to compare scores on "taste". If the only thing that is different in the 2 conditions is the presentation, then we can conclude that that made the difference in the scores, if there's found to be one.

    For some reason many find the possibility of the scores being higher in the "elaborate presentation" group a threat to balanced restaurant reviews. I don't see it that way as the presentation doesn't constitute the whole, only a part.

  6. Dinner last night with two chums. To begin we shared a sopressata pizza which was delicious. The base has the consistency of Indian bread--paratha-like, crispy around the edge and in places underneath, slightly greasy and a little chewy. We also had a plate of olives and the beets-Gorgonzola salad, both very good.

    Next I had the calf's liver, which may not have been the best I've ever tasted, but it was sliced paper thin, tender (though maybe just a touch overcooked) and the gravy was quite rich. Very good reports from those who had the roast chicken and stuffed quail.

    Perfectly nice Sangiovese.

    Picture of the main dining room


    which is very noisy around 9PM on a Saturday. The area around the bar as you walk in seemed quieter and cozier.


    140 W 13th St (b/w 6th and 7th Aves)

    New York, NY 10011-7802

    Phone: (212) 645-4606

  7. My favorite dish was the cod with chorizo. Colorful with soft, flakey (fish) and chewy (sausage)textures. Some of the beans were pureed and this made for a very comforting dish. I also liked the salad of sea bass that preceded it-- a bit of a surprise temperature-wise as it looked as though it would be a hot dish, but it worked at room temperature.

    We discussed the progression of the meal and some of us thought that the quail snooker/baseball might've fitted in better after one or two fish courses. (It looks as though the restaurant now presents this dish taking into account Lizzee & co’s suggestion on the placement of the gelee as it was right next to the quail ball.)

    Also, at last 2 of us thought that we'd have liked the meal to culminate in 2 meat courses rather than one.

    Desserts were poor in my opinion. But I'm not a big dessert fan in any case and that didn't much matter. In the main, they were on the same bandwidth as those found at Jean-Georges.

    The bread, especially the French rolls (from a Queens bakery--name escapes me), was fantastic.

    The service (on all levels from the M'd, Eric, to sommelier to waiters) was top rate; attentive, friendly, informative.

    Very nice of them to comp our pre-dinner drinks and champagne at table.

    Will definitely go back.

  8. I am convinced that if I was served a big pile of mush and given a fork, if a bite caught my interest, I would be able to identify the dish after multiple forkfuls. That's because the oral/sight coordination you are describing is just one more element to learn when dining. You might serve me a ball of steak that looks like a scoop of chocolate mouse, but when I put it in my mouth I'm going to say steak. And I even might tell you which cut of steak.

    The big word here is IF.

    And, Steve, the question isn't whether you'd be able to recognize something blindfolded (though people have difficulty doing this sometimes because of the lack of visual cues). The question is whether you'd rate the same dish higher when given visual presentation.

    Up to now, neither Steve P nor Steve S has given evidence that they would give the same ratings to dishes in blindfolded and unblindfolded conditions. Restated, neither can show that they can separate the effect of presentation on their taste of food. (And of course to create the really good experiment, the subject would have to be unaware of the blindfolded condition. So, something like being given, unknown to them, the same dish in restaurants with different presentation/ambiances--say a scruffy cafe and a high end place-- might do.)

  9. It just so happens that the third scenario mirrors your point of view:

    "Person (this time a chef or someone trained to taste food dispassionately) is given 10 plates of food, 5 of which are decoys and 5 of which are the same thing but cosmetically altered in various subtle and not-so-subtle ways. The person gives the exact same score to each of the similar plates and says, "This experiment is dumb because 5 of those plates were the same. Do you think I'm stupid?"

    Same person is blindfolded and the experiment is repeated. The person gives the exact same score to each plate and storms out, yelling, "Don't waste my fucking time."

    Lots of trained tasters are tested, and the results are pretty much the same".

  10. What the blindfold demonstrates is that the food doesn't change. When the blindfold is removed, if a person's perception of the food changes it doesn't matter whether it's due to a purely psychological concern or a physical/chemical one like more saliva, altered body temperature, hastened breathing, or an allergic reaction. Those are all things that are simply acting to obscure the taste of the food. The food, however, has always been the same.

    What I find really strange, FG, is that you dismiss scientific studies and at the same time claim to be able to predict studies of your own without any intention, as far as I can see, to carry them out. In discussing your hypothetical scenarios a few pages back, you predict the results, that is, that trained chefs and critics will give the same grade to the same dishes food in both both blindfolded and non-blindfolded conditions. I would like to see results of real studies supporting your claim. Because at the moment you are asking people to accept your point of view based on your own subjective assessment of your skills.

  11. Fat Guy: I don't understand how presentation can affect the taste of food at all. The experience, the enjoyment, the perception, etc., sure -- there have been plenty of experiments where people were given blue food or whatever and didn't enjoy it, and I can see how someone would enjoy beautiful food more than ugly food. But actually taste better? No. All other things being equal, it tastes the same

    I think your referring to the experiments about blue food supports the view that presentation does affect taste. I can't find a report on the original research but presumably the subjects said it didn't taste good irrespective of what it "objectively" was. Also, if presentation does not affect taste why does the food industry invest so much in it (to devleop food colorings and the like)?

    Blue Heron: Taste can have more to do with just what goes on in the taste buds.

    Fat Guy: Again, semantics. Yes, if taste includes perception of taste, all sorts of things other than actual taste can affect it. But surely you don't think the food is actually changed by these externalities?

    I think a definition of taste that excludes the perception of taste is meaningless. I agree that there is food on the plate that can be analyzed "scientifically molecule for molecule", but that is not equivalent to tasting it.

    The more I read eGullet the more postmodern I get. Taste is the interaction of the food and taker-inner. However, I'm not saying that people cannot agree about a good meal, but the transactional nature of personal preception and thing out there helps explain why people taste things differently.

  12. I recently got this off a chum of ours. It makes a lovely flavored mayo:

    Add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins), salt and pepper to the mayo and a little olive oil if you need it thinned down. Incredibly tasty with salad and I imagine seafood too. It's a tiny bit spicy but not in the very hot variety.

  13. Nice job, Soba. Better memory than mine.

    I really enjoyed the meal too. I loved the black cod with the unusually spiced pickled onions. We asked for a Riesling (based on Wilfrid’s earlier recommendation) to accompany this and instead the waiter brought a Grüner Veltliner, Hirsci (2000) which was delightful, though not chilled enough (same could be said for the bottle of Sancerre).

    I especially liked B, C (I think this was described as Japanese Red Snapper) and D in Soba’s post. I loved the combinations, sometimes spicy sometimes sweet. The fish was first rate, except for the tuna in B which I found a little sinewy. I agree with Soba that the sushi coming after the hot courses towards the end of the meal did feel a little out of place.

    We were at the back of the restaurant in what felt a separate room. Good in the sense that it may’ve been quieter than the front, but the color scheme was brown-dull, and as Soba mentioned depressingly dim. When asked if the lights could be turned up a tad the waiter said he’d ask a manager, and when nothing happened we requested candles and were given one. Acoustics abysmal. The restaurant could do with some sprucing up. A bit worn around the edges. Little things too: The menus were grubby and the paper turned up at the corners (terrible offence :blink: ). Service was friendly and very good on the whole, though the first few courses felt a bit rushed and on one occasion plates were cleared and another course put down before one of us had finished the previous course. Apology was given.

    But the food was so good and the company so much fun (and wow, the lovely sake in its lovely turquiose bottle, and very nice of the restaurant not to charge us corkage), the above didn’t end up negatively affecting my enjoyment.

  14. Goodness, I'd forgotten this. When first in NY (15 years ago), I went through a phase of eating Alpine Lace, I think it's called. I think it's Swiss cheese (American stye?) and the deli staff sliced it. I used to put it on a white tortilla along with tomato and scattering of cilantro, place under the grill, and when melted roll it up. Who knows if I'd still like it.

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