More often than not, the aroma of the food is your first experience. From the smell of fresh baked bread or your mom’s famous lasagna to the aroma of freshly cut and squeezed lemons, the smell of your food affects how you experience it and whether you’ll want to eat it or not. It can also affect how much you eat, for research indicates that strong aromas lead to smaller bite sizes. This, in turn suggests that aroma may be used as a means to control portion size.
But aroma is highly subjective. A smell one person finds appetizing another may not. For example, many people love watermelon, but this particular fruit’s aroma makes me feel nauseous! So you’ll want to keep in mind which aromas you, your family and your guests will find pleasant … or not.
Before the food goes into your mouth, you look at it. Does it look appetizing? For example, the color one expects a food to be has great impact. Would you eat blue peas or a green cut of steak? Probably not. How something looks often suggests how it will taste, based on a person’s experiences with foods of that color and/or look.
You don’t need to go all out and plate your meals like a chef at a swanky restaurant, but you do want the food to look like something you want to eat. A plate of spaghetti doesn’t need much of a garnish for most people … maybe a little bit of Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. You don’t need to lace a plate with chocolate syrup before putting the slice of cake on it, just lay it nicely and maybe dab a bit of whipped cream on top.
Of course, like aroma, appetizing is in the eye of the beholder. Some people see a serving of corned beef hash and and think “yum,” while another will question what it is you’re serving them!
Finally! The food is being eaten. How does it taste? Is it too salty? Too sweet? Not salty enough? Not sweet enough?
Again, flavor is a highly subjective. There are people who don’t like chocolate and others who love Brussels sprouts! I don’t understand either of them.
Get to know what flavors you and your family likes and focus on preparing meals that incorporate those flavors.
You might be surprise how much texture can change the way something tastes … or whether someone will enjoy an otherwise flavorful meal.
Texture includes crunch, smoothness and more. Certain textures can be pleasurable in one kind of food and not in another. And, like everything I’ve mentioned so far, it is very subjective.
For example, I love nuts in my cookies and ice cream, whereas my fiancé does not. Some people love their eggs easy, but I can’t stand the texture of uncooked egg yolk.
And finally, the last experience you need to keep in mind when preparing food is how will your body (or the bodies of your guests) react to it? Certain health conditions require that you avoid certain ingredients.
When preparing food, keep in mind any food allergies or sensitivities the people eating the food may have.
For example, there are times when I need to avoid spicy or fried foods because my acid reflux is acting up. Some people are lactose intolerant and others have an allergy to gluten.
The last thing you want is for you, your family or guests to get sick after enjoying a delicious meal you prepared!