Ditch the cutlery! Eating with your HANDS ‘improves the texture and flavour of food’, scientist claims

  • Professor Charles Spence says giving up cutlery is the secret to enjoying food
  • He says eating with our hands can ‘heighten the dining experience’
  • This is even the case for messy meals like pasta and curries

Those who are a stickler for etiquette should look away now.

That’s because we’ve all been dining the wrong way and should be eating with our hands, according to a psychologist.

Professor Charles Spence, from the University of Oxford, said giving up cutlery is the secret to enjoying food.

He says eating with our hands can ‘heighten the dining experience’ – even for meals like pasta and messy curries.

Those who are a stickler for etiquette should look away now. That’s because we’ve all been dining the wrong way and should be eating with our hands, according to a psychologist

Why you should eat with your mouth open 

Meat, fruit and vegetables contain volatile organic compounds such as esters, ketones, terpenoids and aldehydes.

These make up the food’s characteristic aromas and contribute to their flavour.

The compounds can reach the back of the nose better while chewing open-mouthed. 

When they hit the back of the nose, olfactory sensory neurons fire up which connect directly to the brain and heighten our experience of eating.

‘Eating with your hands is scientifically proven to improve texture and the flavour of food, as well as a whole host of health benefits,’ he said.

‘It’s something more people should know about and get to grips with.

‘Many of the world’s most popular foods are eaten with the hands – think burgers, tacos, tortilla, wraps, and wings, so why can’t other foods be as well?

‘Eating with our hands helps to make us more mindful about what we are eating and heighten our dining experience, rather than just thoughtlessly using cutlery like we always do.

‘The fork gets in the way and separates you from your senses.’

Meanwhile, a survey reveals a quarter of people in Britain would like to ditch the knife, fork and spoon for a more hands-on experience.

Of the 2,500 people who took part in the research, 19 per cent said they felt ‘more relaxed’ when eating with their hands, while one in 10 said it made the meal even tastier.

However it found the majority of people are still reluctant to try it, with concerns about how others will react.

Online restaurant booking platform TheFork, who carried out the survey, have launched the UK’s first-ever ‘eat with your hands’ dining experience at 20 London restaurants.

Earlier this year, Professor Spence said ditching ‘outdated’ manners and embracing open-mouthed eating is the best way to gain maximum pleasure while dining.

‘Parents instil manners in their children, extolling the virtues of politely chewing with our mouths closed,’ he said.

‘However chewing open-mouthed may actually help to release more of the volatile organic compounds, contributing to our sense of smell and the overall perception.’

Meat, fruit and vegetables all contain volatile organic compounds such as esters, ketones, terpenoids and aldehydes, which make up the characteristic aromas and contribute to the food’s flavour.

Chewing open-mouthed helps more of these compounds reach the back of the nose, firing up the olfactory sensory neurons which connect directly to the brain and heighten our experience of eating, Professor Spence said.

Robochef learns to ‘taste’ food at different stages of the chewing process to check whether it’s salty enough 

A robot chef has been trained to ‘taste’ food at different stages of the chewing process – just like humans do.

The machine, created at the University of Cambridge, consists of a probe that can detect salt levels in food attached to the end of a robotic arm.

Experts used the robot to taste scrambled eggs during different stages of mastication, including a runny liquid as it would appear just prior to swallowing.

According to the scientists, robotic chefs that ‘taste test’ dishes instead of humans could be a fixture of busy restaurant kitchens of the future. 

Read more here 

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