Can the Aroma fork change the way we taste food?
Meal preparation is not just about taste, our sense of smell is very important when it comes to experiencing our food. Molecular gastronomy is a relatively new branch of culinary arts programs that uses scientific and technical advances to affect menu. One company cashing in on this trend is Molecule-R and its new product is a fork that emits scents as you dine.
Have you ever noticed how you can't really taste anything when you have a cold? If you prevent air from passing through your nasal cavity, you'll only be able to experience the most basic of flavors. What we usually refer to as a food's "taste" comes from a combination of senses, most importantly our tongue's taste receptor cells and the olfactory receptors in our nose. The aroma fork utilizes scented oils and a small interchangeable disk to stimulate the olfactory receptors. Molecule-R claims the product can create a whole new tasting experience.
Imagine being able to eat a buttery-tasting baked potato without the cholesterol of real butter or making vegetables sweeter and more kid friendly. This product proposes that you can use it to substitute expensive or unhealthy ingredients with smell. Molecule-R's Aroma R-Evolution set comes with four aroma forks and 21 vials of scented oils. Scents available include different types of fruits, beans, herbs, spices, nuts, and umami (a Japanese word for "savory").
A number of food blogs and news sites put the fork to the test. Some tried pairing scents they believed would work best with certain dishes but others got more creative with their experiments. From most reports, traditional pairings, such as the smoke scent with cheese dishes and the basil scent with tomatoes, offered a pleasant experience. Some wilder combinations, like wasabi scent with chocolate ice cream, were a delicious surprise. Across the board, the critics did not really enjoy the fruit scents. They were described as being too artificial and sweet (making claims that they would be a good way to get kids to eat their greens highly dubious). The food reporter for The Guardian found the whole experience off-putting and bizarre. Most of the the reviewers said they found using the new invention intriguing but none said it would be a substantial addition to culinary arts. In the end, the aroma fork seems to be more of a fun diversion than a food revolution.