Components Of Food

When one thinks of giving chocolates on Valentine's Day to a loved one, we hope this acts as an aphrodisiac ... but does it? To understand this better, the sensory components of food need to be delineated. These include texture, visual appearance, viscosity, tactile properties, and gustatory and olfactory components.

A Twinkie, a cucumber, and a doughnut are particularly Freudian based on their shape and visual appearance. The texture and viscosity of oysters, likewise, may induce reminiscence of sexual organs. Alternatively, the sexual experience surrounding the ingestion of a food may also cause the food itself to become endowed with a sexual valence, which may be aphrodisiacal in nature. Another possible mechanism is not through achieving a direct sexual meaning, but rather, a food can become sexually charged by becoming indirectly associated with sexual function, for example, by being considered a "guilty pleasure." Since in our puritan society, sex and other hedonic pleasures are frowned upon and repressed, one pleasure can be uncon sciously substituted for another, while retaining the same underlying meaning. Eating chocolate or strawberries and whipped cream may be viewed in a sinful way as a reward of "badness for good behavior" (as a dessert after having eaten the meal of brussels sprouts), or as a violation of an unwritten moral code that elevates these foods into a nonessential, potentially dangerous, risky (ie, exciting) food, and hence strongly desired. Thus, eating these foods is perceived on some level as a violation of social morals and revolt against hedonic repression, which may be manifested by sexual arousal. Another nonfood example of this repressed hedonic affective overflow is the Las Vegas effect of gambling, being perceived as a "naughty" thing to do, and hence becoming imbued with components of sexual arousal. Likewise, sinful foods may come to be endowed with other perceived sinful qualities, and this would include sexual arousal.

Alternatively, the taste of the food, that is, sweet, sour, bitter, or salty, if endowed with a high degree of sugar, may induce release of endorphins and norepinephrine, which may act to stimulate sexual arousal. Alternatively, sweet-induced reactive hypoglycemia may act to inhibit the associated sexual arousal. Sexual arousal in the male is manifested by erection and is predominantly parasym-pathetically mediated (6). Thus foods that induce parasympathetic activation (and inhibit sympathetic discharge) may have the greatest effect of inducing sexual arousal.

Last, the smell of the food can influence sexual arousal. Since approximately 90% of what is perceived as taste is really smell, the smell of food may have a far greater effect than is traditionally given credit in assessing food's overall effect on behavior (7). This can be demonstrated by holding one's nose while eating chocolates: it produces a taste of chalk. This is a manifestation of an olfactory synesthesia. The concept of synesthesia is when one sensation is mis-perceived as another sensation. For instance, pressing on the eyeballs induces an illusion of the presence of light, yet it is the pressure that is misperceived as light. In the olfactory realm, odors that are sniffed from outside the nose going up to the olfactory epithelium at the top of the nose are interpreted as smell. Alternatively, odors that do not go through the orthonasal route rather through the retronasal route, from the mouth up through the nasopharynx in the back of the throat to the top of the nose, are interpreted as taste.

Making Chocolate 101

Making Chocolate 101

If you love chocolate then you can’t miss this opportunity to... Discover How to Make Homemade Chocolate! Do you love gourmet chocolate? Most people do! Fine chocolates are one of life’s greatest pleasures. Kings and princes have for centuries coveted chocolate. Did you know that chocolate used to be one of the expensive items in the world, almost as precious as gold? It’s true!

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