Monday, May 4, 2020

Around the Kitchen Table, Do you eat with your eyes? + books #giveaway




Don't miss the books GIVEAWAY below!  
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LINDA: It's been said that we eat with our eyes. Is that true of you? What about all our other senses that we use when preparing a meal? Maybe smell is more important or what about taste? I know, they are all of importance when dining but what is the first one that makes you choose a particular dish to try?

I have to go with the saying - the eyes have it! My sense of smell is not great and I recently read about a professional chef who had lost her sense of smell. That's much more critical for someone in that position but she learned to make adjustments for the loss. Taste comes in a close second for me. But like choosing a book from the shelves, the cover has got to grab me. Then it's a sampling from the pages. I love looking at food - in cookbooks, as my Dinner Club protagonist does - on Instagram, with the daily posting on Mystery Lovers Kitchen.


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DARYL: I have to admit that I, too, love a beautiful meal. Although aroma might be more important to me. I haven't lost my sense of smell, and I can eat anything that smells good with my eyes closed. I love the aroma of cinnamon or chocolate. I love the salty sizzling aroma of a good steak. And the heavenly scent of caramel? Oh, my! It had me at hello. I'm swooning. So, no, my "eyes" don't really make me eat. However, I do agree with you, Linda, regarding a book cover. I love beautiful book covers.  This is image is from my Fairy Garden Mysteries.  Caramel cashew brownies.

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LESLIE B: An interesting question for many reasons, one of which is the evolutionary connection of taste and smell. They are linked in the brain, suggesting that they evolved at about the same time---also at the same time as memory, which is why smell is so tied with memory. You know the experience---we've all had it---of encountering a smell and before we consciously realize what we've smelled, say a particular cologne an old boyfriend wore, we find ourselves thinking of him and wondering why. Or when we smell a particular food and are instantly transported to a previous experience of it, especially if it's there's a strong cultural link, like turkey and Thanksgiving, or popcorn and movies.

That said, a beautiful plate of food is, well, beautiful. All the colors, the shapes, the arrangement, the sauce properly drizzled and stray bits wiped up in what a young friend who worked in a local restaurant calls "border patrol." It's an experience for all the senses. Bring it on!


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LESLIE K: All five senses play a vital part in food and cooking, and yes, the presentation of the meal is what hits your first: a perfectly-seared rib-eye atop a bed of baby greens with shaved fennel and blood orange slices, next to a mound of golden-brown pan-fried potatoes. But next comes that delectable aroma of garlic butter wafting up to your nose; and then the mouth-feel as you chew a slice of the marbled steak, and that satisfying crunch you hear as you bite down on a crispy potato.

But for me, ultimately, it’s taste that counts the most. That steak had better be flavorful, and the oranges a good balance of sweet and tart. For after all, if it doesn’t taste good, even if all the other senses are piqued by the dish, would you really want to order it again at a restaurant, no matter how pretty it looked?



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MADDIE: Looks sure help! We've all made off-the-cuff (well, maybe you haven't, but I have) dishes that tasted fabulous, but the appearance wouldn't have made anybody smile and want to dig a fork in. I think smell must be second most important to taste and is tightly linked. Fresh bread baking? You know it's going to taste good. Here are a couple of sourdough loaves I baked last week.



PEG: For me, it's smell.  If I'm out walking and someone is on their patio grilling a steak and the smell wafts my way, I immediately want a steak!  The same with the smell of popcorn at the movies although I always find the actual taste disappointing--nothing like freshly popped popcorn at home!  I think visual presentation is important and can be alluring but I don't care for food that looks too "fingered" as Julia Child once said!

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LUCY BURDETTE: When you mentioned eyes, Linda, I thought about what I read on a menu--because that's our first introduction to what a restaurant has to offer. And I'm often suckered in by the descriptions of the sides that come with a meat or fish, and that's how I choose. So I'd say yes to the eyes!
Lemon turmeric cake, recipe coming this week!
KRISTA: Pretty food is definitely alluring. But hasn't everyone bitten into something that looked so enticing and was nearly inedible? And what about bacon? I think we're going to have to admit that it's just not that pretty. But the flavor! Oh my! There's nothing like walking into a bakery and wanting one of everything because it all looks so good. And I'm like Peg, the smell of steak on a grill is amazing. But in the end, the taste is the ultimate test for me.

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MAYA: The taste is what matters most to me too, and ugly things can taste really good. My parents had an apple tree that produced greenish-brown apples. When I brought them to school for lunch, my friends thought I was crazy to eat them. But they had a sweet-tart taste that was better than any shiny red apple I've ever tried. Here's another example:


When I saw these shriveled things on the supermarket discount shelves, where produce past its prime is sold for next-to-nothing, I was horrified that the store was trying to make money on avocados that would be brown inside. But I looked closer, sniffed, and realized they were ripe passion fruit--which you are supposed to eat when it's wrinkly. So I grabbed them all--26 of them for 78 cents in a store that usually sells passion fruit for $2.99 each A few were overripe, but still tasted good, and the rest were great.

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CLEO COYLE: Fun topic, Linda! Taste is important, absolutely, and don’t we all love rustic, homemade fare? I think if you’re talking about home cooking, most of us are happy with rough & ready meals, especially when they’re made with love (and taste great). On the other hand, unappetizing food is a hard sell for customers if you're in the food business, where success usually depends on preparing food professionally with an attitude of wanting to give your customers the very best, not only in taste and smell but also presentation. I grew up hearing the Italian proverb “The eyes eat first.” Big, Italian families tend to be food lovers and we certainly were. Is the phrase really Italian? Yes, some say its origin can be traced back to the 1st century Roman Marcus Apicius, a lover of gourmet food. I wonder what he would make of 21st century food porn? Something tells me he'd get a kick out of it. I do think it's fun, and I've enjoyed using my food photography skills to help readers see the recipes that my husband and I create for our culinary mystery series. (Click here to "see" what I mean. :)) Sometimes I'm even contacted for rights to reprint my "eat with your eyes" work. Here's one example...

Click here or on the image above for Cleo's recipe
(and to see the post with her original foodie photo).

Above you can see how a local Italian foods company put one of my foodie photos to use on their packaging for bread crumbs (after purchasing the rights, of course), which is my final point, I guess. Eating with the eyes is an extremely important concept for professionals in the food business. Your food has got to deliver on taste, but that first step is significant too. If what your selling looks unappetizing or unprofessional, drawing customers won't be a cake walk, and could even be a Cake Wreck! BTW - If you’d like the recipe that goes with my photo, along with 5 Tips on Making Italian Breaded Chicken Cutlets you’re welcome to click here. Whether your eyes eat first or not, Marc and I sincerely hope you will…eat with joy. --Cleo


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DENISE

While I love looking at beautiful food, and (when my sinuses allows) love a delicious aroma, taste wins out for me. Too many times, I've been served a stunning looking dessert only to find it bland. For me, that let down, especially after I've agonized about spending the calories, has made me resolve not to be fooled by a pretty face again.


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BOOKS GIVEAWAY

Leave a comment to win these books,
 and don't forget to include your email 
so we can contact you if you win.

The Diva Spices it Up, by Krista Davis
Shredding the Evidence, by Daryl Wood Gerber
Nacho Average Murder, by Maddie Day
S'more Murders, by Maya Corrigan


104 comments:

  1. When food looks appetizing it's hard to resist. A picture of food is worth a thousand words. Yum right? Donakutska7@gmail.com

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  2. How food smells probably influences me first followed closely by how it looks. Of course, none of that matters if the flavors don't meet expectations when I finally take a bite. Thank you for for the fun blog post and chance to win. Dmskrug3 at hotmail dot com

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  3. So many dishes look appealing but are a let down upon consumption. I find chain restaurants to be particularly guilty of this.
    browninggloria(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Glorious - When I was looking for the calorie counts on the nutrition literature for a famous national doughnut chain, I was shocked to see that (are you ready for this?) their croissants had no butter in them. No butter. In croissants! The ingredient list included oils and preservatives and lots of things I didn't want to put in my mouth. Chains are convenient and many are beloved because plenty of people enjoy going to them, but it's always a good idea to look up the ingredients chains use in their food prep, especially if you frequent a certain place and eat a certain thing regularly. How a food looks is only the first stage of giving customers your very best.

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    2. I think many people go to chain restaurants because they know what to expect. This is particularly important when folks are on the road and travelling with kids.

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    3. Anonymous - I agree. Chains are convenient, economical, and families can (usually) count on things like sanitary service and clean bathrooms. I'll always have good memories of certain chain restaurants precisely because my parents took me there, and that kind of happy foodie memory can keep a chain popular for generations.

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  4. Both my husband and I love to cook and bake. The aroma from the kitchen can be baking bread or sizzling garlic and onions. I have to say the aroma initiates the enjoyment. The result looks fine, but I wouldn't call it artistic, like the attractive presentation of food in a restaurant. Many years ago I took a cake decorating class to try to improve my skill (or lack of skill). The instructor ignored me and didn't even look at my offering on the last day of class (we were supposed to bring a cake to decorate, but I brought six cupcakes so I would have six chances to do something attractive). Presentation is important, but I think it's the aroma that draws me in.

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    1. If Mom bakes a cake, it's perfect, no matter what it looks like. xoxo

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    2. I made my first cake when I was about 12. I had the genius idea of putting green food coloring in it. Talk about an epic fail! Even the birds didn't want to eat it!

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  5. It's taste & smell for me. I don't mind "rustic" looking food as long as it tastes good. And the scents from the bakery will drive me inside looking to buy.
    ryannaward71 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  6. fun post. thanks for sharing ladies. i think i start with my eyes and quickly move to smell and if that all passes, then i taste. i learned watching my three brothers growing up that they would eat anything. didnt matter what it looked like or smelled like. so i followed suit. ewweewww that is when i learned to look, smell than taste. LOL i am still this way. quilting lady 2 at comcast dot net

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    1. Lori, I have a grandson who has to smell first before eating anything. ~ Daryl

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  7. Cooking an appetizing meal is something I enjoy but it has to have a real flavor which everyone enjoys. I cannot make it as artistic as many but hopefully attractive and tasty. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  8. When it tastes good then I am pleased, otherwise it can look beautiful but can be disappointing. I prepare healthy meals which are yummy. I do not go for the artistic flair since it is many times meaningless and no one really cares. They are hungry for real food which is filling and tastes good. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  9. The way it looks first, then taste.

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  10. forgot my email - jlb12563@sbcglobal.net

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  11. I think how it taste first because If it doesn’t taste good looks really does not matter. Nancyhallenbenbeck@gmail.com

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  12. Wow by the time I got to the last food I was so hungry. We like to cook and try new recipes and that is why I am always here looking but the worst thing is something might look so good and one bite in if we don;t like we go to find another recipe of the same thing. All of the ones posted are so good. peggy clayton ptclayton2 at aol.com

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  13. Great post, ladies! Loved all the little science and history lessons, too. The appearance may catch my eye but for my family it's the taste and for me as the cook the description or recipe play a big part. I tweak almost every recipe I find and am intrigued by different pairings or ways to prepare an old favorite dish. Thanks for the giveaway.
    sallycootie(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Sally, isn't it amazing what we can learn by reading a group blog? :) ~ Daryl

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  14. I’d be more attracted to a plate of food that looks good but ultimately I’d rather have food that tastes good.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

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  15. I have a really good sense of smell so that's important to me. Taste is most important though, some textures bother me. The texture of avocados really bothers me. Appearance of food doesn't matter much to me.
    clugston.kathy@yahoo.com

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    1. The texture of oatmeal and other hot cereals really turns me off although I'm sure they taste good!

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  16. Some interesting points here. Have always been a believer that a variety of color is pleasing to the eye. Which helps to enhance our appreciation of a dish. Often our sense of smell will also dictate the taste of a dish. Though not always. I do not like the smell of grapefruit. But I do like the taste. but above all. Taste is the key. deepotter at centurylink dot net

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  17. Looks entice, taste satisfied (fat finger typo on first post😄)

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  18. I think for me it's a combination of smell and appearance that makes me drool!!

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  19. An attractive looking dish will catch my attention, but taste is most important. I've tried some things that looked great, but had absolutely no flavor.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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  20. I would have to go with smell or taste since most of what I eat was cooked by me & I rarely cook anything that looks particularly pretty. It tastes good tho. Well usually.
    turtle6422 at gmail dot com

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  21. My late Husband and I use to do alot of cooking together but since he passed away over three years ago I don't do as much cooking for myself. Thanks for your great generosity, love reading mysteries they make me feel warm and cozy inside. lindamay4852@yahoo.com

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    1. My late husband and I cooked together all the time, too. We enjoyed trying new things. My current husband can barely boil an egg but he is very appreciative of everything I cook for him. Except for vegetables. He tolerates them lol.

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  22. I tel my husband all the time that the visual presentation of a meal is an essential part of the enjoyment. It may take me an extra minute or two to set it up just right but it is worth it. butlerrich@comcast.net

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