Food: Secondary Research & Idea Development

My secondary research started by re-watching a video that inspired me to study this topic for the artefact. The YouTube video taught me about studies that had been done related to the matter of whether we can “taste with our ears”. For example, there is something called The Fajita Effect, where if you’re in a restaurant and see someone order sizzling food, you’re more likely to buy it for yourself.

 (BrainCraft, 2016)

Much of what is said in this video is repeated in the book Food Oral Processing: Fundamentals of Eating and Sensory Perception (Chen and Engelen, 2012), which I read in order to find a better source of information. There were studies done which showed that changing the sound a food makes could affect our perception of it. The sounds our food makes when we bite into it can contribute up to 15% our perception of freshness and crispness (Chen and Engelen, 2012).

I also looked at online articles, and one that we as a group found interesting was about how your environment can affect your taste. The article offered the idea that our ability to taste sweet and salty foods can be suppressed when surrounded by loud noises (Science Friday, 2016). We wanted to test this out so we created an experiment, which you can learn about in my blog post discussing my primary research.

From this research we had a few ideas, which are listed below:

  1. Someone eating the same food everyday but the sound changes each time
  2. Person losing their hearing (gradually or all of a sudden?). How does this affect their taste?
  3. Recreating an existing video but with different sounds

The first 2 ideas needed to show a passing of time, meaning the actor(s) would have to have a change of outfits. And given the time constraints, we weren’t able to make these ideas into reality. As for the third concept, we weren’t sure if we were allowed to use footage from online.

I looked back at the opening scene of Eat Drink Man Woman, which Ross Varney had originally shown in a lecture.

(Iazaman, 2007)

I think this clip was important for inspiration as the sounds of cooking were very prevalent. However something I realised is that it relies on not just the sound of the food, but the visuals too, as almost everything we hear can be seen on screen. It also includes music that would be stereotypically linked with China to give us a sense of where the film is taking place. I believe that this music distracts from the diegetic sounds, such as of the frog’s bones being broken or them being deep fried in a pan.

When researching, I came across a Youtube page called Peaceful Cuisine (2016), which has approximately half a million subscribers. Their page has a playlist called ASMR – No Music Videos – where the Youtuber shows the audience how to create a meal or drink, but there is no music playing underneath and no one is talking in the video. An example of this can be found below:

(Peaceful Cuisine, 2015)

The sounds of the chocolate chips being poured into the bowl for example, or the cocoa butter being chopped, really shone through in this video. But just like the scene in Eat Drink Man Woman, the visuals in this video were just as important as the sound.

What if there were no visuals? Would it still have an impact with the audience? Anita came up with the idea of creating a soundscape, as this would make the audience only concentrate on the sounds. We decided that in this soundscape, we too would be making a meal, just like in the videos above.

I went onto SoundCloud to look for food/cooking soundscapes, and there was an abundance of them! Below are just a couple that I listened to:

(Zimt, 2016)

(Greco, 2016)

I noticed that none of these soundscapes have any gaps where nothing is happening, or where someone is walking to the cooker for example. It constantly cut straight to the action and there was no waiting around. This was a great way to keep the audience’s attention and we too added this into our soundscape, especially because we had to keep our artefact under 3 minutes.

Once we decided on making a soundscape, I did some contextual research. Murray Schafer introduced the term “soundscape” approximately 50 years ago. In the book, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, Schafer examines Hi-Fi & Lo-Fi sounds. Although Schafer talks about rural and urban settings, suggesting that “the country is generally more hi-fi than the city” (Schafer 1994), I think this information can be extrapolated to fit in with our cooking soundscape. Schafer writes, “The hi-fi soundscape is one in which discrete sounds can be heard because of the low ambient noise level”(1994). With lo-fi sounds, perspective is lost. We wanted our soundscape to be “hi-fi”, so we made sure we filmed each sound separately so that perspective wasn’t lost and there was a low ambient noise level. This was good to learn as helped my understanding of how soundscapes can be categorised. Barry Truax wrote in, “Acoustic Communication”, that soundscapes put emphasis on “how that environment is understood by those living within it – the people who are in fact creating it” (2001). It is up to the audience to decide what is happening in the soundscape, they are really the one’s creating a story and choosing what is being cooked.

I think my artefact fits perfectly with a website that I found. It’s called The Ration (n.d) and on it, there is a map. There are a number of locations that can be clicked on and when done so, it is possible to listen to a soundscape of the kinds of foods that are sold or prepared there. This is a great way of showing people what’s available in the area and I can imagine this soundscape being put on a map like this. If I developed my soundscape into my FMP, I think I could possibly create an interactive map too. Birmingham is my home. It’s such a diverse place, full of different races, cultures and stories. On the map, there would be different areas of Birmingham that can be clicked on, where you can listen to someone cooking a meal that links to their cultural background.


BrainCraft (2016) Can you taste with your ears? [online] Available at: <; (Accessed: 16 October 2016)

Chen, J. and Engelen, L. (2012) Food oral processing: Fundamentals of eating and sensory perception. London: Wiley-Blackwell

Greco, B. (2016) Cooking Soundscape. [online] Available at: <; (Accessed: 17 October 2016)

Iazaman (2007) Eat Drink Man Woman Opening Scene. [online] Available at: <; (Accessed: 13 October 2016)

Jones, N. and Wolfson, R. (no date) INFOGRAPHIC: SOUNDSCAPE OF A FRESNO FOOD DESERT. Available at: (Accessed: 25 Oct 2016)

Peaceful Cuisine (2015) [No Music] How to make Double Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti. [online] Available at: <; (Accessed: 17 October 2016)

Schafer, M.R. (1994) The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment & the Tuning of the World. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.

Science Friday (2016) Does Sound Affect the Way We Taste. [online] Available at: <> (Accessed: 16 October 2016)

Traux, B. (2001) Acoustic Communication. 2nd edn. United States of America: Ablex Publishing.

Zimt (2016) Food soundscape. [online] Available at: <; (Accessed: 23 November 2016)


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