ETX Daily Up
Wire Service
2 minute read
26 Jul 2022
4:14 pm

What manners? Why eating with your mouth open is better

ETX Daily Up

Studies show that we might have to forget about good table manners if we want to focus on the pleasure of eating.

Man eating cheesy pizza in an italian restaurant | Picture: Photography Kaszojad / Getty Images© via ETX Daily

Discerning foodies who dream of reaching culinary nirvana might have to rethink their table manners and stop keeping their mouths closed while chewing to make food taste even better. Go on, try it! Scientists say you should!

Admit it: there’s nothing more unpleasant than someone gobbling up food with their mouth open.

Like keeping elbows off the table, it’s one of those manners we learn from a young age. However, it now looks like you’ll have to choose between respecting fellow diners and heightening your enjoyment of a meal. A professor of psychology at the University of Oxford, Charles Spence, told The Times that eating with your mouth open actually maximizes the pleasure of every mouthful.

This way of eating apparently helps release more volatile organic compounds from food, which in turn boosts the odors reaching the nose. In this way, aromas also reach the back of the nasal cavity more easily, helping us to experience them more intensely.

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This scientific explanation is not so new, since it’s already a technique recommended by sommeliers when tasting wine. In wine tasting classes, students learn about retronasal olfaction.

This tasting method — which can be easily identified by the strange noise emitted by the mouth — involves sucking in a little air while swirling the wine in the mouth. Immediately, the aromas of the wine are enhanced in the nose. Moreover, as much as it is frowned upon in restaurants to eat with your mouth open, showing off your retronasal olfaction skills when the wine waiter brings you a bottle is nothing out of the ordinary…

So, it seems that we should forget about good table manners if we want to focus on the pleasure of eating. Indeed, the British professor urges us to lick our fingers too, because touching food allows us to have a different perception of it when it reaches our taste buds.

In fact, several gourmet restaurants have already offered their customers the opportunity to grasp the components of a dish with their fingers in order to appreciate its full taste profile. This is the case of the British chef Heston Blumenthal, holder of three Michelin stars for his Fat Duck restaurant, but also of the Danish chef René Redzepi, head of Noma, named five times as the world’s best restaurant.

On Spain’s Basque coast, the two-Michelin-starred Andoni Luis Aduriz is one of the forerunners of cuisine to be enjoyed first and foremost with the fingers. The culinary experience offered by the chef at his Mugaritz restaurant, on the outskirts of San Sebastian, revolves around a long series of trompe-l’oeil appetizers that can be enjoyed without a knife or fork. 

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