Rotating your plate as it is placed on the table may improve the taste of your food, psychologists claim.
People have a subconscious preference for food that points away from them, according to Oxford University experts, to the extent that it can affect the flavour.
An experiment involving 12,000 people, carried out at London’s Science Museum, suggests that most people prefer their meal to be aligned facing away from them, and marginally to the right.
The perfect orientation, the scientists discovered, is for food to point at 3.2 degrees clockwise, a tiny fraction to the right of the vertical axis of the plate.
The effect is so pronounced that people actually experience an improved taste when the alignment is correct, the psychologists claim.
The results, published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, were obtained after thousands of people took part in an experiment at the Science Museum’s ‘Cravings Exhibition’, which explores the way reward circuits in the brain that determine flavour are altered by outside influences.
Charles Michel, a chef and researcher on food aesthetics at Oxford University, said many people instinctively adjust their plate when it is placed in front of them.
‘This everyday action that some of us do might hint at the fact that we all enjoy our food more when it is “oriented” in the best way possible.
‘Indeed, by arranging the food to “look better”, we might be unconsciously enhancing its perceived value, and hence our enjoyment of it.’
Experimental psychologist Professor Charles Spence, who contributed to the research paper, said the instinct is rooted in early human evolution.
Items that are directed towards the body are perceived as a threat, he thinks.他觉得，直接朝着人体摆设的物领会被觉得是威胁。
‘Something pointing towards us triggers brain-fear circuits, and this is why it might be liked less,’ Professor Spence said.斯朋斯教授说，“当有东西朝着大家摆设的时候，会触发大脑的恐惧环路，这就是为何大家不喜欢东西直接指向我们的缘由，”
‘What we see automatically sets expectations about what it is that we are about to eat, and how much we think we are going to like it. ‘We also get a sense of how much effort put into dish’s preparation.“对于大家所看到的食物，心里会自动产生关于这是什么，与合不合口味的预期。”大家还能感觉到厨师做这道菜花了多少心思。
‘Those expectations anchor our subsequent experience when we come to taste – hence what we see really can change what we taste.’“这类预期定位了大家之后品尝时的味觉体验——因此大家的所见确实可以影响大家的味觉。”
Mr Michel added: ‘In our Western cultures, we seem to associate left with “wrong” and down with “less”, also, right with “right”, and up with “more”.米歇尔先生补充到：“在西方文化中，大家一般把左侧和‘错误’联系在一块，下边与‘少’有关，右侧是‘正确’，上边与‘多’有关。”
‘Also, might be that we associate left with “past” and right with “future”, because that’s the way in which we write.’
Many food psychologists are convinced that a range of external circumstances change the way we experience and taste our food.
Professor Spence’s previous work has established, for example, that a heavier glass makes a gin and tonics taste better and that a fine dining cloth will improve the flavour of a meal.
He has also discovered that plastic blue spoons make food taste more salty, white spoons make food taste creamier and black spoons make it taste less sweet.