“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”George Bernard Shaw
I agree. But why do I like certain foods? And not others?
Not to worry: I never let such thoughts interrupt my eating.
It seems I’m not alone in my pondering over puddings, potatoes or perogies.
Scientists also take a keen interest in what we eat and how we eat and what it all means.
Here’s a taste of what I’ve uncovered about how people interact with food. Maybe it will help me prepare for my next dinner gathering.
When you pick up a gingerbread man, do you rip off his head first?
Guess what: that probably means you’re a leader.
According to Dr. Alan Hirsch, Neurological Director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, the first bite of the cookie can provide insight your underlying personality. He says so in 2010 research on behalf of Dunkin Donuts.
Here’s how the cookie crumbles.
Heat bite first? “It indicates an achievement-oriented individual, a natural leader, who won’t take no for an answer,” he says.
Go for the right arm off the top? You’re skeptical and pessimistic.
Left arm? Creative and extroverted.
Amputate the legs in a pre-emtive strike? Good news, my friend: “you tend to be more sensitive, reveling in the company of others”
I wonder what psychiatrist Sigmund Freud would say about all this.
Maybe a gingerbread man should come with a little couch. And a free counselling session?
What to drink with our cookies?
How about some wine? Don’t laugh. I’ve done it.
It turns out wine drinkers have a tough time figuring out how much they actually pour, compared to what they planned. So say researchers at Cornell University. They have a wine program there.
I haven’t been able to sort out if red wine is indeed better than white wine. But I have found out if you drink white wine, you will probably pour more than you think you did.
Researchers told college students in the test to pour a standard wine serving. That’s five ounces.
Then, researchers put 10-ounce glasses in front of them. No, the college students didn’t all pour 10 ounces.
On average, white wine drinkers tended to pour about 10 percent more wine than did students with red wine bottles. Average pour was around five-point-five ounces. That’s better than I would do.
The reason? The low colour contrast of white wine in a clear glass can make it difficult to choose the appropriate level.
Those same researchers – after pouring wine all day long — also discovered that the style of glass you use is important to how much you think you pour.
People also tend to pour about 12 percent more wine – red or white — in a wide, red wine glass. People tend to consistently pour less wine into in narrow, white wine glasses.
It seems most people can’t calculate volumes in their heads. Instead, they think a narrower glass gets fuller faster, as the level rises faster. At least the first time they pour.
And people tend to pour about 10 percent more wine into a glass held into someone’s hand. Moving target, perhaps?
When drinking wine in moderation, here’s the checklist:
Stick to red wine
Pour it into a narrow, white wine glass.
And make sure the glass sitting on the table when you do.
That’s a lot to remember. Maybe it’s time to consider other popular beverages instead.
But here’s hoping you don’t like both coffee and dark, bitter beers like I do.
Apparently, liking both beer and coffee makes me a psychopath. Researchers have found people who like bitter foods were also more likely to score highly in measures of psychopathy, sadism, and aggression.
“Taken together, the results suggest that how much people like bitter-tasting foods and drinks is stably tied to how dark their personality is,” the study says.
Apparently, an affinity for bitter foods was a better predictor of personality than any of the other tastes in the research effort. Like sweet. Or sour.
With all that in mind, let’s plan my next dinner party.
To get a good reading on the personalities of everyone who arrives, I’ll pass out gingerbread men at the door. Then watch carefully. And take a few notes.
As a responsible host, I’ll pull aside the “leaders,” ask them set aside their decapitated cookies, and ask them to pour white wine. Only into narrow glasses sitting on the table, so nobody drinks too much.
If people start asking for coffee or dark beer, I’ll be extra careful where I put the little seating cards around the table. I’ll make sure to mix up the psychopaths with sensitive, amicable guests still munching on the legs of the gingerbread men.
What could go wrong?
And after all that, I’ll hope people really like my meatloaf. Inoffensive, comfort food. A warm hug kind of meal.
Unless I invited vegetarians.
Adapted from a speech presented at Cambridge Toastmasters, January 26, 2017