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emhahn

3 Most Important Elements of a Plate...

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The food, sitting there on the plate, is the food.

Any number of physical, emotional, chemical (etc.) conditions can and do affect the individual experience of ingesting the food.

Seven pages to say that?


Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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Robert,

Remember this IS eGullet.

Steve,

The point is by changing the environment ie the appearance, I can change your perception of flavor and taste. I don't have to manipulate the food at all.

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Liz - No you can't. You can change how I feel about it and how I percieve it, but you can't change the residual sugar and ripeness level found in a bottle of 1975 d'Yquem (which I got to drink last night.) That wine will always taste sweet, relative to the residual sugar level in other d'Yquems. Sure on a day you have a cold it's harder to taste. And yes after eating hot red Thai curry the sugar will taste harsh. And yes if you serve it at room temperature it will taste different...... But nothing you can do to me will change the wine in the slightest bit.

What you and everyone else keeps on saying is, in an example where your tastebuds are impaired (and that can be done visually as well) you will taste things differently.

I agree.

But what does that have to do with anything because an impairment is only a temporary situation? People with expertise learn how to overcome that impairment through practice.

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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.

(Again, apologies for jumpin in in media res, but who has time to read all this?)

FG -- The blindfold argument is irrelevant to this discussion (or at least my small participation in it). I'm not (and I doubt anyone else is) suggesting that if we told people we were testing whether presentation affects the taste of food, and asked to sample to pieces of pie that they knew were identical but just plated differently, that they would perceive a difference in the taste of the pie. Nor is anyone suggesting that a blindfolded person would taste a difference between a nicely plated piece of pie and a messy piece. If that's the discussion, then I think we're not arguing the same thing.

The original point was that plating and presentation is very important because it affects taste to diners in the restaurant. That's not an argument that the plating affects the physical attributes of the food or the diners' palate. It's an observation that people will subjectively appreciate and judge the taste of an item based on factors other than the narrow confines of "taste", and that they are probably not conscious of the fact they are doing this. Perhaps it's akin to subliminal influences.

Remember, half the game is 90% mental.


Edited by Stone (log)

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But what does that have to do with anything because an impairment is only a temporary situation? People with expertise learn how to overcome that impairment through practice.

Oh dear God I wish I lived where you live. Utopia must be wonderful.

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The original point was that plating and presentation is very important because it affects taste to diners in the restaurant.

Stone - I don't think this is quite right. I think it needs to be modified to;

The original point was that plating and presentation is very important because it affects the perception of taste to diners in the restaurant. It doesn't affect the actual taste at all. The diner is the one being manipulated. Not the food.

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I'm sticking with what I said: Presentation can make good food taste better and bad food taste worse.

India Girl - This is a false statement. Presentation cannot make food taste better. What it can do is improve the dining experience, and that can influence how you react to the food. But it can't make it taste any better. It can just make you like it more.

Uuuh. uhhhh. Thanks Steve. For the clarification. I really had no idea what this thread was about. Just blabbering as usual. Don't mind me.

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... most of the research in how saliva stimulation retards taste mechanisms is done on senior citizens with deficiencies.

Thank you for giving me a mention, Indiagirl :wacko::laugh:

oh no. macro-san. oh dear.

if i had emoticons they would be:

embarassed

tentative smile :?

may i please please go back and rephrase that?

... most of the research in how saliva stimulation retards taste mechanisms is done on senior citizens with saliva generating deficiencies related to illness and drug side effects.

still friends?

:)

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Repeat after me: the food stays the same; only we change.

I think I will now go split a few hairs while dancing on the head of a pin.

like, whatever.

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The original point was that plating and presentation is very important because it affects the perception of taste to diners in the restaurant. It doesn't affect the actual taste at all. The diner is the one being manipulated. Not the food.

So taste is independent of tasting. Something which is uneaten has a taste. This is what I thought (neo-)Plotnickitism was about.

There is a taste attached to a food substance irrespective of what it might 'taste' like. In future I will be taking all of my meals in enema format. I am pleased that the taste will be unaffected.


Wilma squawks no more

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The original point was that plating and presentation is very important because it affects taste to diners in the restaurant.

Stone - I don't think this is quite right. I think it needs to be modified to;

The original point was that plating and presentation is very important because it affects the perception of taste to diners in the restaurant. It doesn't affect the actual taste at all. The diner is the one being manipulated. Not the food.

Taste is perception. If you've modified the diner's perception, you've modified the taste. If a 79 D'yqueem sits breathing in a decanter in the forest, does it have a taste? Or is it only when someone is drinking it. (All right, that one didn't work.)

When I started the "Is Wilfrid Right" thread way back when, what I was trying to get at with reference to subjectivity was whether different people had the same subjective "experience" when they tasted the same thing. FG, I think, pointed out that this was irrelevant (and the thread went on and on and on). In many ways, it is. However, what we're discussing here is very similar to what I meant to discuss before. The meaning of "taste" and its relation to perception.

Plating, atmospherics, etc., may affect the diner's perception of food. By that, I'm not just talking about "oh it was a beautiful place, we had a great time, and the food was o.k." I think it goes farther. It could be the difference between "the food was great" and "the food was mediocre" -- for the same food. If people are in a classy joint with perfectly prepared food, conscious or not, I think their expectation of better food may skew their purportedly subjection evaluation of what they eat. A self-fulfilling prophecy if you will.

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"Taste is perception. If you've modified the diner's perception, you've modified the taste."

Stone, I am in complete agreement. Further, what the new modern chefs as evidenced by Blumenthal, Chefg, Adria, Gagnaire, Veyrat are trying to do is push this even further and alter your expectations, change your perceptions, push the envelope as it were.

"What you and everyone else keeps on saying is, in an example where your tastebuds are impaired (and that can be done visually as well) you will taste things differently."

Steve, taste buds weren't impaired. In the wine example, sensory clues were given that were unexpected and therefore the experts, relying on the tried and true, were wrong, even though the taste remained unchanged. These people weren't visually impaired, they were manipulated to think something different.

But the bottom line of all of this is keeping in mind what a chef is trying to achieve. I maintain that if you take away the presentation aspects from Adria, Veyrat et al, you have changed what they set out to do and might as well go have a steak.

\

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The food, sitting there on the plate, is the food.

Any number of physical, emotional, chemical (etc.) conditions can and do affect the individual experience of ingesting the food.

Seven pages to say that?

And counting . . .


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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This argument has recycled itself twice already......

The original question I asked was this:

There are three things that are most important about each plate that goes out:

Presentation - *(undeniably important)

Taste - *(also, undeniably important)

Whether the food is HOT or it's COLD (also, undeniably important, duh!)!

So, are we back to where we began, or is the frivolous detail going to stand in front of the original question?

Just asking.......

Eric

www.RestaurantEdge.com

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OK........ sorry.........

Let me back up a second here.........

Maybe this question is not "knowable"?

However, I've heard some really, really good experience being said on this thread! If I could hand out medals for knowledge, there would be some given on this thread!

This is why eGullet kicks so much ass it's not even funny!

Good exprerience floating around here! No doubt about it!

Eric

www.RestaurantEdge.com

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Taste is perception. If you've modified the diner's perception, you've modified the taste. If a 79 D'yqueem sits breathing in a decanter in the forest, does it have a taste? Or is it only when someone is drinking it. (All right, that one didn't work

Stone - No, taste is a physiological reaction to a chemical compound. Food and wine have certain minerals, vitamins, trace substances, sugars, proteins that taste a certain way to the human palate. A 1979 d'Yquem is always supposed to taste the same. Only the tasters change.

Steve, taste buds weren't impaired. In the wine example, sensory clues were given that were unexpected and therefore the experts, relying on the tried and true, were wrong, even though the taste remained unchanged. These people weren't visually impaired, they were manipulated to think something different.

Liz - Any change from the norm is an impairment. That's why those studies are rubbish. They take people from a known environment and place them into an unknown environment. And they say AHA!@@!@!@!@ the results changed. Well of course they are going to change. It's a trick.

But the bottom line of all of this is keeping in mind what a chef is trying to achieve. I maintain that if you take away the presentation aspects from Adria, Veyrat et al, you have changed what they set out to do and might as well go have a steak.

This is a sad statement if it is true. This is certainly not the case at Arpege where the presentation is pleasant but in reality the food is plated very simply.

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.

Further, what the new modern chefs as evidenced by Blumenthal, Chefg, Adria, Gagnaire, Veyrat are trying to do is push this even further and alter your expectations, change your perceptions, push the envelope as it were

But all they are doing, and I don't want to minimize it, is a reshuffling of the deck and serving it in a way that we aren't used to seeing the cards. Take the ChefG pushed Foie gras and Pear dish, a dish I liked very much. Okay, so he figured out that if you push Foie through a tamis, it comes out the other end like the hazelnut cream in a Mont Blanc, and with the texture of ice cream. But you know what, after I taste it a few times, I pat my tongue against the roof of my mouth and say "I know that flavor, it's Hudson Valley Foie gras (I am only using that as an example)"

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"This is a sad statement if it is true. This is certainly not the case at Arpege where the presentation is pleasant but in reality the food is plated very simply."

Steve,

That's the point. Arpege's statement is one thing, Veyrat another, Bras another, Adria another, Trio another, Keller another, JG another, and on and on and on.

You have an exceptional palate. Why not let each chef speak his own language and let us as diners learn it their way?

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You have an exceptional palate. Why not let each chef speak his own language and let us as diners learn it their way?

Thanks. I've been fishing for that compliment all day.

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Im not as good as a a FG or a Plotnicki on this one but I do know (for me)

Presentation is very imortant on enjoying the cuisine...

The cuisine should utilize the architecture of the presentation to further enhance the enjoyment of the experience of dining at said place...

I want to remember. Whether that it is the way the dish was orchestrated and conceived, the stucture , or combination of both...thats what I look for...

i want to enjoy it all, on all fronts...i dont care where my senses go...


Edited by awbrig (log)

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Taste is perception. If you've modified the diner's perception, you've modified the taste. If a 79 D'yqueem sits breathing in a decanter in the forest, does it have a taste? Or is it only when someone is drinking it. (All right, that one didn't work

Stone - No, taste is a physiological reaction to a chemical compound. Food and wine have certain minerals, vitamins, trace substances, sugars, proteins that taste a certain way to the human palate. A 1979 d'Yquem is always supposed to taste the same. Only the tasters change.

We're arguing past each other. The "physical" sensation within each person's brain when tasting something is an effect of consciousness that stimulated by, among other things, the chemical reactions on the tongue and in the nose. The brain takes those inputs and creates a sensation -- neurons firing. I'm just saying that other factors go into the sensation -- beyond the chemical compounds in the wine, already present on the tongue, etc. I think that how a person's brain perceives the taste of an object is not simply a factor of the objects physical make-up.

On one hand, I think it's probably true that if one person were to sit in a room each night for the purpose of tasting a '79 d'Yquem, and was asked what it tasted like, she'd probably give the same answer each night.

On the other hand, I think that when you factor in the full experience of eating food at a restaurant, when the diner is not going into it as part of a test, there are other factors than the chemical makeup of the food (and the wine pairing, etc.) that affect how that person will perceive the taste of the food. Yes, a beautiful setting and perfect plating will probably not make a badly cooked, dry, tasteless piece of fish taste good -- especially not to a seasoned eater who's really paying attention. But for the average joe eating out, I think it will affect how he perceives not just the dining experience, but the taste of the food.


Edited by Stone (log)

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We're arguing past each other. The "physical" sensation within each person's brain when tasting something is an effect of consciousness that stimulated by, among other things, the chemical reactions on the tongue and in the nose. The brain takes those inputs and creates a sensation -- neurons firing. I'm just saying that other factors go into the sensation -- beyond the chemical compounds in the wine, already present on the tongue, etc. I think that how a person's brain perceives the taste of an object is not simply a factor of the objects physical make-up.

But you keep skipping two salient points. One, it's all a matter of training. There are people who can taste a dish blindfolded and pick out the ingredients in a dish. It's just a matter of training your palate to do it (if you have the capablilites to begin with.) Your proffer seems to be that you can fool those people by changing the visual clues which are an important part of the process of analyzing the food. And my response is, not if they have been trained to ignore the visual aspect of food when analyzing how something tastes. Then "taste" is isolated. But yes, for the average diner, even the expert diner who is not trained that way, they can be manipulated.

The second thing you are failing to recognize is that food is organic. It has qualities that exist indepedant of people tasting it. You are giving short shrift to those qualities. My 1979 d'Yquem's residual sugar level is a constant. That means much more then you realize. Or what the acidity level in heirloom tomatoes means when it has been a particularly hot and dry summer. And while Wilfrid was right when he says you can take something into a lab and analyze it and we still won't know how it tastes, that just because we don't apply some type of artificial tasting intelligence in the analysis that replicates the perfect palate.


Edited by Steve Plotnicki (log)

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... most of the research in how saliva stimulation retards taste mechanisms is done on senior citizens with deficiencies.

Thank you for giving me a mention, Indiagirl :wacko::laugh:

oh no. macro-san. oh dear.

if i had emoticons they would be:

embarassed

tentative smile :?

may i please please go back and rephrase that?

... most of the research in how saliva stimulation retards taste mechanisms is done on senior citizens with saliva generating deficiencies related to illness and drug side effects.

still friends?

:)

Gave me my best laugh in the whole thread, Indiagirl :laugh::laugh: Thank you for that, and no, you can't go back and change a word :cool:

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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.)

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