Pop quiz: Youre out to dinner at arestaurant youve been dying to tryits gotten amazing reviews. You should order an appandan entre to sample as much of the menu as you can, right?
Might seem like a no-brainer but, turns out, downing that delicious startercould actually prevent you from fully enjoying the main dish to come, according to new research in the journal Food Quality & Preference.
Each participant of the studyate a simple meal: bruschetta followed by pasta with garlic and oil. Half of the subjects ate a bruschetta that had been rated as delicious and very enjoyable while the other half ate a mediocre bruschetta; all ate the same pasta afterwards.Afterwards,people whod eaten the good appetizer enjoyed their pasta far less than those who had an altogether average meal.
These results are due to a phenomenon called hedonic contrast. Hedonic means pleasure; hedonic contrast means that after experiencing something pleasurable, we tend to compare it to the next experience that comes along, often unfavorably.
And thats what study co-author Jacob Lahne, PhD, an assistant professor in the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management at Drexel University, thinks happens when we eat a crazy-tasty app, whether its bruschetta, guacamole, nachos, or mozzarella sticks.
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If you have a fantastic appetizer and then the main seems lackluster, that could be because of this type of contrast effect. That doesnt mean you shouldnt have fantastic appetizers! Lahne said in a Drexel press release.
It does mean, though, that if you really want to savor the main course, consider skipping the starter or at least going with something neutral likea simple saladso your entre doesnt pale in comparison. The only question now is, does akiller dinnermean youll be disappointed in dessert? Youll have to see for yourself.