Vitality

Mix And Match Cuisines To Enjoy Your Meal, New Study Says

Food
A plate of "Warm Lobster Salad" prepared by Italian chef Umberto Bombana is displayed at his restaurant in Hong Kong, Feb. 10, 2012. REUTERS/Andy Ho

The key to enjoy a meal is to mix and match different cuisines — or so say the findings of a new study published Thursday.

Researchers looked into 143 participants’ responses to an Italian main course after they had either an Italian or Thai appetizer. They divided the participants into a group of two. The first group was given traditional Italian “pasta aglio e olio” as main course and Italian minestrone. The second group was served the same main dish and Thai tom kha soup.

The findings showed that those who got Thai and Italian dish enjoyed the meal overall compared to the other group who got only Italian food.

“We were investigating several aspects of contrast in restaurant meals in this study,” Jacob Lahne, food science researcher Drexel University in Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “Once we found it was possible [enjoyment of an appetizer affecting overall impression or enjoyment of a meal], we wanted to test if the effect still occurred with soups from different cuisines as the appetizers - first because soup as a type of dish is a distinct category of food from most main dishes [including this pasta], and second because it seems likely that you wouldn’t compare a Thai soup to an Italian main dish.”

“We want to keep pushing the boundaries to learn more about contextual experiences,” Lahne said. “Often, in traditional high-cuisine meals, patrons are offered palate cleansers to neutralize taste buds—a grapefruit sorbet or pickled ginger—but is this enough to interrupt a comparison from one course to another that precedes it?”

The study is titled “You’ll spoil your dinner: Attenuating hedonic contrast in meals through cuisine mismatch” and was published in peer-review journal Food Quality and Preference.

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