Tastier Napkins

What colour are yours? Ours are white most of the time, but red at Christmas and green for eating alfresco. I'm talking about table napkins, of course. It seems that recent research is telling us that the colour of the napkin can make food tastier.

Simply serving up a pudding with a pink napkin will make the dessert course taste extra sweet, according to chef Linda Lundgren. Studies have established that the colour of food affects how we taste it, but now experts say that napkin colour is important too. For example, chef Lundgren recommends a mustard yellow napkin with green food, such as sprouts and salad and aqua blue will make Indian dishes seem less salty, she says. Red or pink napkins are best with desserts, making them taste much sweeter. Such advice is surprisingly backed by academics at Oxford University, whose professor of experimental psychology, Charles Spence, has published a book on 'gastrophysics'. Spence claims that the colour of plates , table clothes, napkins and cutlery matter more than many of us realise. Even the background colour of the wall can have a baring on food taste.

Professor Spence suggest that there are two theories as to how napkin colour can change the taste of food - the first is that colour alters how a meal appears, making it seem more fresh and so more delicious. The second is that colours trigger the primitive brain, making us associate the colours with flavours, such a blue and white with salty tastes. He is supported by Swedish chef Lundgren, who has developed a napkin colour guide to food with the hygiene company Tork. Miss Lundgren suggests that you can make a strawberry dessert sweeter and richer tasting by avoiding adding more strawberries or sugar but serving the dish with a pink napkin instead. The colour actually increases the sweetness and decreases the bitterness.

No, this is not an April Fool joke - this really is supposed to work! But whether I can afford to add to my white, red and green napkin collection remains to be seen.


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