Mary Ellen Camire is professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine. She’s also the director of the University of Maine Sensory Evaluation Center, where much of her research focuses on how consumers respond to Maine-specific commodities, like seaweed, potatoes, berries and grains. We talked with her about her background in nutrition, why where you eat matters when you are taste testing and how the lab works with new local foods.
Aficionados use words like “oaky” to describe some wines, or “hoppy” when talking about certain beers. But for rum—a product with over 1,000 different varieties—putting the words together to describe what imbibers are smelling and tasting is a bit more difficult.
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry turned the second floor of the SAGE Center into an experiment lab.
OMSI took over the space at the Boardman museum Saturday for its Celebrate Oregon Agriculture event, a chance to share some of their popular exhibits and further hone the food science exhibits they use in their outreach program.
Ali Bouzari opens his 2014 Tedx talk with a question about dessert. “Who here has had a really tasty cookie?” he asks the crowd, and then, after allowing the audience to acknowledge their assent (who hasn’t had an extremely tasty cookie? Who doesn’t remember it as one of the finest pleasures in life?), he hits them with another question: “Why?”
Interacting with food is an incredibly sensual experience. One might imagine the smell of an oven roast, or picture an oozing chocolate lava cake, maybe even hear the crunch of a stale baguette. But what happens when you lose your sense of smell and taste?
Anosmia is a disorder where one loses their ability to smell. There are various forms of this unfortunate disorder: Congenital anosmia is when someone is unable to smell at birth, and hyposmia describes the diminishing sense of smell that develops over time. Our senses of smell and taste are interdependent, so if you lose one of these senses, you lose the other one too.
From Instagram to TV ads, what’s the science behind food porn?
The result is a smörgåsbord of revelations, from the finding that colouring white wine red can trick experts into describing the aromas of vin rouge, to more recent discoveries – among them that heavier cutlery encourages diners to pay more, that ginger biscuits taste spicier when served from a rough plate, and that serving a strawberry mousse on a white dish increases its perceived sweetness by 10% compared with a black one.