“We Eat With Our Eyes”

Kate and Rich Practicing Their Moves for the Wedding

Have you heard this expression?  I was reminded of it yesterday, while I sat at a tasting for my stepdaughter’s wedding (the first of the kid’s weddings! – in June ’10).  We decided lunch should be like this everyday.  Peter (my husband) and I, and Kate and Rich got the full treatment – private service and a sampling of 1 soup, 3 salads, and 4 entrees.  Everything was so tasty . . . and tasty LOOKING!  The squash soup had a little swirl of cream on top, one of the salads had a crouton that was really like a cheese wafer, the fish had a lemon wedge and capers, a rosemary sprig rested artistically on top of the roasted chichen, etc.  Are you salivating yet?

I was reminded how important it is to enjoy food.  And part of that involves the appearance.  I remember learning tips about food presentation in school.  Add color to a plate (Don’t serve cauliflower with chicken and mashed potatoes – blah!).  Vary the textures, add garnishes, . . . .   Food is a source of pleasure, and it should be.  I think it is easier to eat less if you get more pleasure per bite (PPB?  Maybe a new pleasure unit?).  That doesn’t mean that the food has to be over-the-top rich or sweet.  It has more to do with the taster (you!) than the food.  You can eat a “delicious” food (whatever that means to you) and not really taste it, and you can eat an everyday food like an orange and really enjoy it because you are really tasting it.  In other words, you are more aware!

What got me really thinking, though, was a comment the caterer made when we were discussing desserts.  There will be cupcakes from a bakery, and then the caterer will supply a bunch of bite-size treats.  She said there should be 3-4 pieces for every person, in addition to the 180 cupcakes for an estimated 200 people.  And that is AFTER the passed appetizers, drinks, salad, entree, more drinks, . . . in addition to a late-night sausage bar.  The caterer’s comment, “We eat with our eyes” stuck with me, because the caterer made the point that people will still want to take a few of the little treats in addition to the cupcakes, even though they are not at all hungry.  I am not passing any kind of judgment on that.  In fact, I might choose to do that myself if they looked really good.  The thought I had was more like, “Interesting.  This is an opportunity for turning an unconscious thought into a conscious choice.”  What I mean is that it is not so important what the choice is.  It is important that it is a choice and not an unconscious reflex.  In the long run, food choices will be better, and calories will be more in line with a healthy weight.  So choose it, or don’t choose it, but make it a choice!

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