Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences

Public Lecture – Charles Spence Gastrophysics: The New Science of the Diner

Prof. Charles Spence, Crossmodal Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford discusses research on multisensory perception, and its relevance to our understanding of the experience of food

What is the perfect meal? We can probably all think of at least one especially memorable dinner that we have had. For some, it might be something as simple as a picnic in a summer meadow or else fish and chips by the seaside (while listening, of course, to the sounds of the sea). For others, the gastro-tourists, it will be that once in a lifetime trip to one of the world’s top Michelin-starred restaurants. Wherever it was, though, what made it so special wasn’t just the food (Spence & Piqueras-Fiszman, 2014). Of course, the food matters: It is, after all, one of the most multisensory of our experiences, one where if even a single sensory element is wrong, something is served cold that was supposed to be hot, then the whole experience will be ruined. In this talk, though, I want to argue that what makes for a great eating experience depends far more on ‘the everything else’ that surrounds the meal than we realize: It depends on everything from the mood we are in through to the company we keep, and from the environment in which we choose to eat and drink through to the plating, plateware, and cutlery. I will review the emerging body of research from the new field of gastrophysics that is helping to isolate just how important these various factors are to our perception and enjoyment of food (Spence, 2015). Some of the most exciting recent examples of the dynamic interplay between chefs, designers, and sensory scientists that is giving rise to exciting new immersive, experiential, (possibly experimental), and most definitely multisensory, dining experiences will also be highlighted. Finally, I will show how the search for the perfect meal can lead to interventions that may potentially help (in some small way) to tackle the growing obesity crisis, not to mention providing some intriguing ideas about how to get us all to shift to a rather more sustainable insect-based diet in the decades ahead.

Category: Public Lectures and Seminars: Arts Celtic Studies and Social Sciences
Time: 6pm - 7pm
Location: Room G7/8, Cork Enterprise Centre Building, North Mall Campus, UCC
Target Audience: All welcome
Admission Price: € Free
Contact: Dr. Conor Linehan

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