Cheese and music – an interesting combination

Music & CheeseYesterday, at Cornucopia Underground I took part in an interesting cheese experience (courtesy of Homage to Fromage). Now these are the guys who have spent time putting together the Periodic Table of Cheese, so an invitation to take part in a Heston-style experiment exploring how, if at all, listening to different music changed one’s appreciation of cheese was not to be missed.

The proposition was that we taste five cheeses, each twice. The first listening to one track and the second hearing a different one. Our noble leader suggested that he had chosen the tracks to associate with the cheese or not. We were offered five very different cheeses, starting with a Parmesan, through various soft cheeses to Blacksticks Blue.

I’m not going to bore you with my detailed tasting notes (not least because we were asked to hand them in for analysis) but simply offer an overview of the experience. For most of the cheeses I did not feel that the music made any difference to the basic taste, although it did affect the overall experience.

Firstly, the pace or beat rate of the music seemed to matter. Faster beat rates led to faster mastication, which in turn probably helped entrain more air (which we know makes a difference to many tasting experiences) and led to more saliva production (which affected the mouthfeel).

Secondly, whether or not I liked the music and.or had any associations with the music affected the experience too. One one occasion I found myself just absent mindedly chewing a lump of cheese while listening to one of my favourite tracks, on another the positive associations with the music brought back pleasurable memories which in turn led to enjoying that portion more than the twin. Others reported that a disliked track led to less enjoyment. This ‘cross-anchoring’ is well known on other circles and might well be used to advantage if only we knew what tracks we could play for individual eaters/drinkers to trigger those positive associations.

Do, an interesting experience and experiment – why not try something similar yourself.

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