Good Food Blog
The battle of the sensesPosted at 12:30PM, 03 February 2009 by Adrian Bridgwater - Journalist
Do men and women taste foods differently? Alcohol-fuelled male bravado leading to requests for double-strength vindaloo curries aside, women arguably taste slightly differently from men and may therefore often prefer different foods.
Scientific evidence tells us that men are more prone to sweating in the face of chilli than women are; and women seemingly derive greater surges of serotonin-driven pleasure from eating chocolate - although this is somewhat apocryphal, as men generally adore it in equal measure.
According to the food scientists and research bodies who earn their crust from cooking up reports of this kind, it is argued that women have more taste buds than men and are therefore more sensitive to sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavours.
The general trend is that men will always score lower on the taste bud scale than women will
Further 'facts' suggest that although men's testosterone helps them endure the pain of deadly chilli peppers, this may be simply down to a case of the male population having a less sophisticated mouth. White coated researchers have found anywhere from 11 to 1,100 taste buds per square inch of tongue across a variety of test subjects, but the general trend is that men will always score lower on the taste bud scale than women will.
If you think of a typical male or female meal as distinct plates of food, the more common generalisation is to focus on portion size over and above that of any other factor. Is there a typical female meal? Do men prefer different foods or derive more pleasure from different dishes to women? Do all-female or all-male groups order differently when out in restaurants in single sex parties? Are the marketing people missing a trick here by not developing sex-specific food products?
The answer, I would argue, probably lies in the undeniable fact that men and women have been eating from the same single pot for years. In many cases such as the tagine dishes of Morocco or the slow cooker or casserole meals still enjoyed today, the simple pleasures of communal eating surely transcend any scientist's opinion, however erudite.
I'd like to suggest that food trends and traditions probably have as much to do with what we serve and who we serve it to than any suggestions arising from scientific research. Ethnic influences must be hugely important too. Can you imagine cooking bouillabaisse, paella or cassoulet for one? Of course not! After all, what's salt and pepper for anyway?