Tasting the food of the future
Food designer Laila Snevele serves recipes for the brain
Hunger is the best sauce, as the saying goes. But our brains can also add a bit of flavour. For example, if our eyes detect reds or pinks in a meal, then our brains will perceive the food as sweeter, explains Laila Snevele from Latvia. According to her, there are a myriad of examples in which a food’s colour, shape, structure, temperature, sound, feel in the mouth, and aroma enhance our perception of its taste. Or that even help us create an illusion. On the opening and closing days of the CWF2019, she will give visitors the opportunity to experience first hand how the food of the future can be created.
Laila Snevele recently graduated from the Design Academy in Eindhoven and can now officially call herself a food designer . “What does a food designer do? It is a very broad field and many of my peers are trying to find their own unique niche within it. Mine is called sensory food design. I am particularly interested in how the food we consume and our senses affect each other. I conduct research on this topic in a variety of applications.”
‘Reds and yellows look delicious to us’
Snevele pointed out that we all have ‘tools’ that send information to our brains. Ultimately, these tools determine the way in which we experience a meal. “I examine the distinct way in which each of the senses influences the other. For example, my graduate work focused on the subject of how ‘vision’ influences our taste experience, which is also called digital seasoning .” Sound, feel and smell also play an equally significant role here.
Entire studies have been dedicated to this phenomenon, such as neurogastronomy and gastrophysics. In marketing circles, it has also long been considered a well-known fact. For example, it was no mistake that McDonald’s chose to include red and yellow in their logo. “We know that these colours are perceived as more delicious,” said the young entrepreneur and owner of Laila Creative Food. “Our brain is pre-programmed to make this colour combination more attractive to the eyes, while blue tends to conjure up the opposite reaction. It is possible to use this information to manipulate the brain.”
But how would she like to apply that knowledge? Firstly, she would like to make consumers and the food industry more aware. She is also interested in taking our sense of taste to the next level. “I see our senses as a free resource – potential that we are not using to the fullest. My aim is to provide people with tools that help them use their brains to flavour their food. I call them ‘recipes for the brain’.”
Not necessarily healthier
Is she interested in making people eat healthier? Not necessarily, said Snevele. “Though I do understand that there is an interest in that in my field. It is difficult to avoid hidden and unwanted ingredients. And at the same time, I also see the challenge facing consumers and the food industry. Both sides are blaming each other for the unhealthy outcomes. Granted, it is not easy to change a system in which product price has such an impact on so many crucial decisions.”
During CWF2019, she aims to showcase the possibilities that exist: make your brain believe that the meal on your plate is sweeter without even adding a spoonful of sugar. Or make it seem more sour by giving the food a pointed shape rather than a round one. Visitors can experience these sensations in her ‘tasting booth’ Digital Seasoning 2.0 .
‘I see the challenge facing consumers and the food industry. Both sides are blaming each other for the unhealthy outcomes’
Who knows, Snevele’s research may eventually contribute to a more sustainable food industry, one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In that regard, she is more concerned about equal opportunity in education. “And about the right to a fair education. By that I mean straightforward and up-to-date information accessible to everyone in a pleasant learning environment. If you can achieve that, then many of the other SDGs can also be achieved.” But as far as she is concerned, the undeniable focus has to be on the climate. Without a place to call home, pursuing any of these other goals doesn’t make any sense.
The Latvian national is looking forward to being a part of this community of minds brimming with creativity for three days starting 21 October. People who are trying in their own way to create change for the better and who want to share their ideas with others and learn from each other. What Snevele is most looking forward to is meeting 11-year-old Lilly Platt, an advocate for a healthy environment. “I already follow her on Instagram. Now I will have the opportunity to tell her how highly I think of what she is doing. Young people who are brave enough to take these major steps always earn my support.”