Some of us can profit from the gimmicks restaurants use on diners

Tuesday, 31 March, 2015

This article listing the ways restaurants find ways of making customers eat less, while paying more for the privilege, might make for useful reading if you’re thinking of opening a dining establishment yourself.

Time is money, but that principle means different things for different types of restaurants. Unlike fast-food and all-you-can-eat places, fine-dining establishments prefer customers who linger and spend. One way to encourage patrons to stay and order that extra round: put on some Mozart. British researchers found that when classical, rather than pop, music was playing, diners spent more.

What about when you want to close up shop, and go home? How do you encourage patrons to go, you know, pay up and get out? Change the music, of course:

Another study found that fast music hurried diners out.

That’s an old one, shops, especially supermarkets, often start playing up-tempo music as closing time approaches.

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The whole universe could just dissolve into a glass of water…

Monday, 23 March, 2015

Image by Navid Baraty

What have we here? The first photo of what looks to be a habitable planet in a solar system other than ours? It may well look that way, but the above image was created by US based photographer Navid Baraty, with basic cooking ingredients, such as food colouring and salt, among other items.

Using olive oil, flour, garlic powder, sesame oil, cumin, baking soda, together with the likes of chalk, baby powder, cat fur, and makeup, Baraty has produced an impressive collection of images that look more like they were photos taken by, say, the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Selfies on toast, for a whole new definition of dining with yourself

Monday, 9 March, 2015

I’m not sure what to make of this. I hope it’s not a sign of the apocalypse. What would we be up to here? The ten thousandth? But here we have a bread toaster that toasts selfies onto bread.

Would you want to eat that? Photos of yourself? Then again, I guess it depends whose selfie is cooked onto the toast. They’d have to be pretty hot though wouldn’t they?

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Anyone care for some laboratory grade peanut butter?

Monday, 23 February, 2015

If you’re a scientist running tests and experiments on peanut butter – and after all the cake and watermelon, it is really just another chemical compound – you might find yourself paying top dollar to obtain the laboratory grade stuff… as in US $671, for a jar similar in size to what you see on supermarket shelves.

This peanut butter isn’t actually intended for your mouth (rude, I know), but to be fed into laboratory gadgets like gas chromatographs and mass spectrometers. Smart people then use it to establish an industry-wide standard to which similar food products can be compared. The high price has nothing to do with taste or quality, but simply reflects all the scientist-hours that went into its making.

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A bar to sit at is best, whether you’re drinking or eating

Friday, 20 February, 2015

When I go to a bar, I prefer to sit at the bar, if possible… that’s where it’s all happening. It’s interaction central. The same bar action would also seem to apply to restaurants that offer an option to dine at a bar, rather than at a table. I’m up for finding out one way or the other.

When everyone’s so close, it changes the dining experience. Out on the floor, you’re a dickhead if you overhear a conversation and chime in. Not at the bar. You connect, trade stories, then trade bites. I’ve never shared as much food with strangers as I have at the bar. You meet great people that way – you’re part of this band of outsiders within the restaurant. And for me, that’s the best possible dining experience of all.

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An illustrated history of sushi

Wednesday, 18 February, 2015

An illustrated history of sushi… it’s a dish that has been around for centuries, although not quite in the format that we’re familiar with.

In the case of Nare sushi, which was being consumed some five thousand years ago in southern China, preparation took about a year, on account of the pickling process, and while rice was an ingredient, it was more of a stuffing, and usually not eaten when the dish was eventually served.

Dozens of rice-stuffed fish would be packed in a wooden barrel and then weighed down with a heavy stone. The fish would sit for a year before being cracked open for consumption. “No one ate the rice back then. It was just the fish.” This practice spread to Japan but eventually went out of vogue in China after northern nomadic tribes invaded and ruled the area. “Even today, this style can still be found in some parts of Yunnan and northern Thailand,” Isassi says.

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You can’t unboil an egg’s yoke, but can unboil an egg’s white

Friday, 6 February, 2015

An egg cannot be unboiled. I’d always thought that was an immutable law of the universe. Not anymore it seems, a way has been found to uncook a boiled egg, but not the yoke, so far at least, only the white, or albumen or glair, to use the, I guess, scientific name.

In fact, they boiled the heck out them for 20 minutes at 90 degrees C (194 degrees F), so they were very hard indeed. They then set out to reverse the process and turn the hard whites into a clear protein called lysozyme by adding urea, which breaks down the chemical bonds that cause the coagulated chains to misfold on one another. The rather unpalatable liquid mass was then run through a vortex fluid device designed by Professor Colin Raston at South Australia’s Flinders University. This set up shear stresses that caused the chains to untangle into their previous uncooked form.

Would not then a… breakthrough like this be akin to stumbling upon some sort of holy grail of pyhsics or science? No, apparently not, the space-time continuum appears to be intact, its fabric undisturbed, as it was always was.

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Crickets and grasshoppers, let’s talk about their taste differences

Wednesday, 14 January, 2015

Future possible shortages of the sorts of foods we’re presently used to consuming may result in insects becoming part of our diet. A sobering thought, to say the least. Mind you, insect based dishes, prepared in a certain way, may look rather appetising.

But what of the taste? What might meals, made up of the bugs we more usually see in our gardens, be like on the palate? Louis Sorkin, of the American Museum of Natural History, offers his thoughts.

Via Nautilus.

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Economists on breakfast cereal boxes, who deserves a spot?

Wednesday, 3 December, 2014

I have a thing with breakfast cereal boxes. Having said that, I don’t collect, or, for that matter, hoard them, even those that are full, but they have a certain significance that I may, or may not, say more about at a later time. Cryptic I know, but there you have it.

On the subject of breakfast cereal boxes though, if you had to, just for the sake of it, match an economist with a certain breakfast cereal box, such as “Special K” for instance, who might that be? If you think you can match one with the other, then the Marginal Revolution University is the place to be.

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We may be eating our way into a chocolate deficit…

Tuesday, 25 November, 2014

I can’t help but notice chocolate everywhere I turn, but if this report is to believed, that may not be the case for much longer

Cocoa use will top output by about 70,000 metric tons in the 12 months started Oct. 1 and deficits will persist through 2018, a six-year stretch that would be the longest since the data began in 1960, said Laurent Pipitone, head of statistics at the International Cocoa Organization in London. Prices may rally 15 percent to $3,200 a ton by the end of 2014, according to the median of 14 trader estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

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