Ever tried having Thai and Italian food at the same time? A recent study suggests that mixing cuisines can make your meal more enjoyable to eat. Jacob Lahne, Assistant Professor at the Drexel University, in the US, and lead author of the study, tested and analysed subjects’ hedonic (liking) responses to a main dish of “pasta aglio e olio” (pasta with garlic and oil) after they had either an appetizer of Italian minestrone or Thai tom kha soup.
So, in one case the appetiser matched the cuisine type of the main dish and in the second was a clearly different cuisine.
By introducing two versions of each soup — one good (made with better quality ingredients) and one mediocre, Lahne was able to test the differences in response to the main dish depending on the soup’s cuisine type and quality.
The finding, published in the journal Food Quality and Preference suggested that subjects liked the main dish and the overall meal more when they had a mediocre Italian soup to start.
Conversely, they enjoyed the main dish and meal less when they started with the good Italian soup. This effect did not occur when subjects started with the Thai soup — liking for the pasta dish did not change with the Thai soup quality.
“We were investigating several aspects of contrast in restaurant meals in this study. Once we found it was possible (enjoyment of an appetizer affecting overall impression or enjoyment of a meal), we wanted to test if the effect still occurred with soups from different cuisines as the appetizers,” said Lahne.