According to a recent study from Japan, by literally watching what you eat, that food will somehow taste better. Yeah, me neither.
Consider the following study the last layer of firma before the spoon scrapes the bottom of what our culture has come to represent. Straight outta Nagoya (University) comes the theory that if you were to watch yourself consume dinner, it would taste better, presumably borrowing the hypothesis directly from the mirrored ceilings of every Motor Inn marital suite. And I would know, I was conceived in one.
The fantastically-monikered Ryuzaburo Nakata levelled the breakfast table of our lives, with the following truth bomb: “we wanted to find out what the minimum requirement is for the social facilitation of eating”, which may also double as the background vocal for the electric jazz fusion wave that swept Japan in the 1990s, and made up my YouTube habits last week.
Nevertheless, picture the scene on the campus of Nagoya University.
Japan is famous for its quirks, which border on idiosyncrasies, so perhaps walking into a room to find your lunch next to a full-length mirror would theoretically not dent the takoyaki of the more hardened weirdo, but for your everyday Nagoyan, it would be a tableau that asks more questions than it answers, especially if the uber-serious eyes of the science department pushing for tenure took your name, and the 26 others you meet who had even less that you had to do today, and thusly have the same task. Eat in front of a mirror, and tell me how it makes you feel. Does it change the taste?
Our findings suggest a possible approach to improving the appeal of food, and quality of life, for older people who do not have company when they eat – those who have suffered loss or are far away from loved ones.
Apparently, yes. Yes, it does. According to the findings of the study, it’s a phenomenon that works across all ages. According to Nakata-san’s cabal, even a photo of someone eating produces the same social effect, with the subjects not only claiming that their food tasted better but consuming more of it (which, actually solves the long-running mystery of why lousy restauranteurs populate the walls of their establishments with stock photos of the hideous act: your presumptions of creative apathy are in error – it’s a form of control, man).
However, tin foil theories aside, I feel the final words should escape the lips of Ryuzaburo’s fellow author Nobuyuki Kawai, who said of the study: “Our findings, therefore, suggest a possible approach to improving the appeal of food, and quality of life, for older people who do not have company when they eat – for example, those who have suffered loss or are far away from their loved ones.”
Well, possibly. I don’t want to pan the study; I imagine there’d be nothing I could enjoy more than watching myself masticate. But to be perfectly honest, I haven’t tried it. So, tonight, when my partner goes to sleep, I’m going to warm up a pie, and find out for myself.