Sweet ‘n’ Sour Science
Still no cure for cancer, we see.
But in the ongoing race to see which academic institution can claim credit for the most pointless research into the bleedin’ obvious, Rutgers University and the Monell Chemical Senses Center find themselves in pole position (until tomorrow, when a paper will doubtless be published explaining, in full marbles-in-the-mouth, grant-assisted academic pompspeak, that humans enjoy having new shoes, or that retirement is daunting to those without pension plans).
Academics at the aforementioned institution have recently hit upon the world-changing theorem that wine tastes good with meat because it helps cut through the fattiness of the food.
Well, now we know. Because obviously we all just came up with those fat/acid pairings through sheer luck, for centuries. Without the benefit of a team of highly-funded scientific professionals to dig out such gems of empirical wisdom as:
“The opposition between fatty and astringent sensations allows us to eat fatty foods more easily if we also ingest astringents with them” (says lead researcher Paul Breslin).
Nice one Paul. Anything more you want to add, you know, to justify the years of research you’ve put into this?
“The mouth is a magnificently sensitive somatosensory organ, arguably the most sensitive in the body”
This is clearly a man who has never had a pee after handling scotch bonnet chillis.
“The way foods make our mouths feel has a great deal to do with what foods we choose to eat.”
Call the Michelin Guide, we have a prodigy on our hands.
But a scientific report would be nothing without a syllable-heavy abstract. Otherwise we proles might be tempted to believe that Breslin et al had simply spent their last months eating crisps and sipping chardonnay in the senior common room before hastily cobbling something together before the Research Assessment Exercise inspectors turn up:
Breslin, Catherine Peyrot des Gachons, and colleagues now show that weakly astringent brews—in this case containing grape seed extract, a green tea ingredient, and aluminum sulfate—build in perceived astringency with repeated sipping. When paired with dried meat, those astringent beverages indeed counter the slippery sensation that goes with fattiness.
Thanks Paul, Catherine, and the sundry unnamed postgraduate students who probably did the legwork. Your place in the annals of science is assured. As long as no-one’s hit upon the idea already….
Duck a l’Orange
Roast lamb and mint sauce
Pork and apple
Sweet and sour chicken
Sirloin and Bearnaise sauce
Cheese and pickle sandwich
Turkey and cranberry
T-bone and Merlot
Spring lamb and Beaujolais
Pakora and ginger chutney
Chips and tomato ketchup
Cheeseburger and sliced gherkin