The More Work You Put Into Dinner, The Better It Tastes

I read a fascinating article the other day in Wired.  It references a number of scientific studies and asserts that the more effort you put into making dinner, the more tasty and pleasurable your brain responds.

Something about harkening back to the days when we had to forage and hunt for our foods.  Meaning, when food was scarce and we cave men had to work really hard to score our grub, our brains told us it tasted better.

In evolutionary terms, such mechanisms could benefit survival under conditions of scarcity when the chances of acquiring food are probably related to increased foraging effort. An increase in palatability accruing to lower value foods under such conditions would serve a dual purpose, both to boost consumption and to confer greater learning connected to the prevailing cues in the environment.

In the first instance, a change in palatability would prolong meal duration and/or consumption of certain (e.g. less valued) foods that might otherwise be rejected under conditions when food supply is plentiful.

One thing this article didn’t cover is what about the scenario where one spouse is busting their hump on dinner and the other one walks in the door and eats and enjoys.  Do they not enjoy it as much as the one making it?

I know Eggplant Parmesan is one of my wife’s all time favorite dishes and it takes me pretty much all day to make.  Once I’m done cooking it I’m exhausted and rarely enjoy the end product.  So what’s up with that?

I’ll tell you this little anecdote that might support the notion.  I was an 18 year old knucklehead who had recently joined the U.S. Air Force.  We were nearing the end of boot camp and were preparing to spend a full day at the obstacle course.  I think it was called the Confidence Course at the time.

They said it was going to take a couple hours to complete and then when we did successfully overcome the harrowing obstacles, we would be treated to a wonderful lunch.  I completed the course without too much trouble (it’s not as scary as they hype it up to be) and was completely starving.  In fact, every one of my squadron mates were completely famished and salivating for food.

We had worked up a hell of an appetite and had been promised one excellent lunch.  Well, “lunch” turned out to be an MRE.  aka, Meals Ready to Eat. (Click here if you don’t know what I’m talking about)

I was lucky enough to score the Chicken a la King.  “Hey, if it’s good enough for the King, I’ll try it, I’m starving!”

Well guess what, it was one the best meals of my entire life!  Truly, it was absolutely delicious.  Score one point for science.

Read full article here.

p.s. here’s what the old USAF confidence course is looking like these days.

The More Work You Put Into Dinner, The Better It Tastes