Real world applications
Real world applications of sonic seasoning has been used by Kitchen Theory in their multi-sensory dinner entitled Synaesthesia. A song was played for each dish. The final dessert was entitled ‘Believe Nothing of What you Hear’. The audio accompaniment was a track by Brazilian artist Amon Tobin entitled ‘A Piece of Paper’, a harsh, glitchy and distorted piece. After they play it for almost three minutes the track changes to a far more melodic, harmonious piece entitled ‘At the End of the Day’. They found that guests consistently reported that the glitchy music brought out the more bitter (cocoa), sour (passion fruit) and crunchy (crumble) elements of the dish, whereas the more melodic music brought out the sweeter and creamier (mango chocolate ganache) elements.
In 2014, British Airways launched a unique SoundBite soundtrack, a 13 track play list to match passengers’ food on long haul flights. For example the main course which was a British classic like Fish & Chips was paired with “Somewhere only we know” by Lily Allen (as the piano notes can enhance the sensation of sweet and bitter tastes). Dessert was served with Madonna’s “Ray of Light” as high-tones boost sweet flavours.
Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant The Fat Duck in Bray has a dish called “Sounds of the Sea”, an immersive, binaural sea-scape to accompany a dish of sashimi and edible tapioca ‘sand’. The sound is delivered to the table on an iPod hidden inside a conch shell and guests listen to the sounds on headphones as they eat the dish.
House of Wolf in London served a ‘sonic cake pop’ for one month as part of its menu. Customers were asked to select one of two sounds before they eat their dessert. Depending on which taste they wanted to amplify; the sweet song would play a high pitched noise, whereas the bitter song would play a deeper sound.
So what’s next?
It’s all very interesting and some people might think this is a load of “BS”. I can understand why but if empirical evidence supports this, I think we should continue experimenting to get more conclusive theories. I believe there just might be a host of real world applications in the world of food & wine as I have seen how the role of perceptions and emotions affect the overall F&B experience. All these stories have just made me more excited and I’m definitely going to continue experimenting on how the food & wine experience can be elevated.
Felipe Reinoso Carvalho, Qian (Janice) Wang, Raymond van Ee, Dominique Persoone, Charles Spence (2016, October 23). “Smooth operator”: Music modulates the perceived creaminess, sweetness, and bitterness of chocolate
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