It is commonly asserted that we ‘eat with our eyes first’. In fact, the visual design of food on a plate can affect a person’s experience of that dish. A recent study by Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory has tested people’s plating preferences when presented with a dish of food. And by ‘preferences’ we don’t mean the aesthetic quality of the dish but rather, which ‘direction’ is more visually comfortable for the plate to be facing. Of course, this only applies to food that has a visual ‘point’ – a bowl of soup might not evoke any responses. However, adding a chive to garnish the soup is an entirely different story!
Conducted by Charles Michel and a group of colleagues at Oxford’s department of experimental psychology, the research involved asking people to rate, rotate and reposition plates in their preferred ‘direction’ – up, down, left, right etc. According to the results, food that points down or towards the diner can be perceived subconsciously as ‘threatening’.
As increasingly visual societies where social media is dominated by networks such as instagram and pinterest, the aesthetics of food can be, arguably, surpassing the importance of taste. However, with the recent twitter campaign #WeWantPlates, perhaps trends indicate that poor attempts at making your dishes go ‘viral’ on social media by, say, presenting it in a shoe may be a challenge to orientating the food in a direction that is ‘comfortable’ for the customer – thus making the whole dining experience a good one.
– The i-Chef Team