Few of us can resist a serving of spaghetti. Whether in a restaurant or prepared at home, fact’s are: Something about spaghetti makes feel good fast and allows us to perceive a wonderful taste from just a simple plate of pasta with sauce.
However, is there a scientific reason for this? Several scientists were interviewed, and the outcome may surpise you.
But first: Why does spaghetti taste so good?
Spaghetti is good when prepared with a healthy portion of salt and a good sauce. These two factors have a significant impact on the taste of spaghetti and why many interpret it as good. However, the carbohydrates in spaghetti also have their own taste, which leads to a special taste experience for many people.
The sauce – an important reason for the taste
If your spaghetti really tastes exceptionally good, then it was probably prepared with a correspondingly good sauce. Normal Barilla or Buitoni spaghetti probably have a different taste than high quality De Cecco spaghetti that was delivered and prepared with a certain quality. Without the sauce, very few would eat a whole plate of spaghetti, which is why it is always important to make the right sauce for your meal!
Salt – the competitor
Salt in your spaghetti is also not entirely unimportant: As in so many other foods, spaghetti usually contains quite a bit of salt. Salt makes a big difference, even a thoroughly bitter cocoa can be tasteful again with salt. This is because the sodium ions contained in salt detect and suppress bitter flavors, making the sweet flavors appear stronger. This also makes pasta that otherwise tastes sticky fresh again!
Dopamine is released in the brain through sugar
Most spaghetti sauces contain a few grams of sugar. Sugar has a special effect on us because it dissolves on our tongue. Our tongue tip is very sensitive and immediately recognizes that it is sugar. Positive signals are sent to certain areas of the brain, dopamine is released to reward us. That also explains why we often can’t get away from spaghetti, simply because we’re rewarded every time with short – time happiness when a eat spaghetti.
Butter and oil – the flavor enhancers
Good olive oil can make a huge difference too. Olive oil has often a taste of itself. Finding the olive oil used for your spaghetti can make some of the meels you already eat more delicious for you.
Butter too tastes better, especially when it has already been warmed up and spread over the spaghetti, that’s because butter can spread much better at room temperature than when it comes fresh from the refrigerator. If you’ve eaten spaghetti in a restaurant, you may also have noticed the good taste of the butter being used there, which is way better than your butter at home.
If you want to know what makes butter taste good in restaurants, you can, check this out.
We like to accomplish things – that’s what is makes better
We humans like it when we set out to do something and then make it. Then we reward ourselves. But areas in the brain are also activated that motivate us to keep going. This also applies to smaller steps, such as forking up spaghetti. Anyone who always eats spaghetti with a spoon and fork is familiar with it: It takes a lot of skill to get the spaghetti on the spoon perfectly so that you can eat it with one bite. We have achieved something, achieved something ourselves, even if it is only very small, it makes us feel better and we can enjoy spaghetti better than other food, where perhaps less “effort” was required.
The eye always eats with you
The mere sight of spaghetti in a perfectly prepared sauce is certainly not an unimportant factor as far as the taste of spaghetti is concerned. Because what people always say: the eye always eats with you. The brain has to estimate the amount that we are about to ingest. This process works especially fine when we eat small things, what we can better estimate. That’s why a small bar of chocolate still fits in after eating, or why sliced apples taste better than whole one. We humans just like to assess things before we deal with them. This is still quite easy with food, which gives us a satisfied feeling and thus makes this moment more precious and enjoyable.
Gluten – a small taste on it’s own.
Gluten itself has a nutty taste. As is well known, gluten is found in spaghetti, and it can also be a factor in why you like spaghetti so much. However, gluten is more known for its ability to hold food together rather than for its unique taste. The whole thing could, however, be related to the external appearance, the eye eats too, we like solid food in small incidents much better than matched mush.
According to some researchers, even the carbohydrates, heaps of them in spaghetti, have their own taste. This was tested by giving a neat solution of carbohydrate solutions to some propandes. The taste has been described as “like bread, pasta or flour”. In general, carbohydrate solutions should probably have a “strong” taste.
Even after the scientists blocked the receptors on the tongue, which makes us taste, the reports were unchanged. All of this means that carbohydrates have their own taste after all, i.e. that they could be a reason for the good taste of spaghetti.
Tasting spaghetti – a few more reasons
In the end, it appears that there are many different factors that influence our taste. This definitely includes the atmosphere. As the sole factor, that’s not enough for the taste, and it doesn’t really match the rest of the reasons. However, I would like to explain why the atmosphere when eating spaghetti, for example, is not entirely unimportant.
The place you eat spaghetti
If you eat spaghetti, in a cold, abandoned, dirty restaurant, then of course it is initially doubtful whether the spaghetti is actually good, but that remains to be seen. Let’s say the spaghetti tastes as normal as ever. Who in this atmosphere would even get the slightest taste of touching the spaghetti at all – and if you dare not spit it out again out of fear that there is something in the spaghetti that doesn’t belong there?
The people you eat with also play a role in the taste of spaghetti. Just give it a try, the next time you have spaghetti at home, take the food with you to your room. Let’s see if it still tastes so good if you are used to a pleasant atmosphere with your family or friends. And that’s no wonder: We’ve been used to eating with our fellow human beings for a long time. In contrast to wolves or lions, for evolutionary reasons we decided to hunt together and then to eat together. So we still have in our blood that it is essential for survival to go along with the group, so it also means eating with the group. The moment we eat together with the group, our brain rewards us for having apparently taken a step to ensure our survival. Whereas when we eat alone it punishes us with loneliness.
The atmosphere can also change in completely different ways. There are now certain “dark” restaurants that want to switch off the decisive factor that prevents us from eating – the eye. According to reports, people who eat at dark restaurants often interpret the wrong food – and not what they are actually eating. After a few times, this experience subsided again for most, the brain adapted. However, it shows again how much we only pay attention to our sense of sight in our everyday life and often ignore the other senses.