Good Food Blog
The kaleidoscopic kitchenPosted at 12:30PM, 27 October 2008 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
The other day I was talking to a friend who recently opened a restaurant, and was intrigued to discover the detailed research and thought that went into not only the menus and food, but also the décor and colour of the tableware. Apparently colour has a significant effect on our appetite and the food we choose. Whether we realise it or not, colour affects all our senses and has a definite effect on the amount and type of food we eat.
Research has revealed that colour triggers an unconscious emotional response in most people. Colour creates atmosphere and can make us feel hungry, sad, happy, relaxed or energetic and can also encourage us to eat hurriedly or leisurely. Bright red, for instance, excites and stimulates the appetite, makes food taste more appetising and encourages people to eat more; holly green imparts a feeling of cheerfulness and tends to encourage conversation; orange stimulates the appetite, has an exhilarating effect on people and indicates informality, which is why some fast-food chains use orange in their restaurants; cheerful bright yellow boosts morale, stimulates and suggests sunshine, so is particularly appropriate for breakfast ; blue, on the other hand, is an appetite suppressant and some weight loss plans suggest serving food on a blue plate.
It seems that it's difficult to get consumers to try blue-coloured food - think of mashed potatoes or whipped cream tinted blue for instance! Blue food is a rare occurrence in nature, apart from blueberries, although these are really purple. Greens, reds, and several other colours are more generally acceptable, although this can vary by ethnicity. The Japanese, for example, are renowned for their love of brightly coloured food and elaborate use of food colourings.
Some food products fail to take off because consumers don't like the look of them, despite the fact that they may actually taste delicious
Colour and the attractiveness of various foods are closely linked. Dull sludgy colours such as beige or off-white have little visual appeal and put us off. Consequently some food products fail to take off because consumers don't like the look of them, despite the fact that they may actually taste delicious. We 'eat with our eyes' before we actually taste any food. People asked to eat in the dark reported that they missed the visual appeal of the food, although a new chain of restaurants challenges this thinking and serves food in pitch black conditions; their philosophy is that the darkness awakens all the senses and that food actually tastes better if people can't see it! Personally I'm not convinced, as I like to see what I'm eating. I'd like to hear other thoughts on this though.