Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Artsy Wednesday: Food Acoustics

The new issue of Dwell has an article (not, unfortunately, online) on acoustic architecture. It's inspired by architecture firm Arup, which has developed a way to understand how a building will sound even before it's built (a side benefit is the ability to reconstruct buildings that have been destroyed, so they can hear how a particular song would've heard in a certain church, for example).

This whole initiative goes to a core belief that architecture is more than just the walls or empty space that surrounds you - it's the whole experience. Sound is an important part of that, obviously.

All of this got me thinking...sound is really the overlooked sense when it comes to food, isn't it? Sure, you hear about the sizzle of, say, Chili's fajitas, and occasionally you read about the crunch of a particular lettuce (but in that case, it's more about texture than sound anyway). Is it because sound just isn't polite? We do chew with our mouths closed for a reason, after all. Nobody, least of all me, likes to hear a slurp.

But that doesn't mean that sound doesn't deserve a bigger role in the overall eating experience. On the non-food side, there's been a lot of discussion over at Elizabeth Large's Baltimore Sun blog (among other places - and I can't find the post on EL's blog!) about restaurant acoustics and the pros and cons of restaurant music in terms of style and volume. But even beyond that, looking to the food itself, isn't there a way to move the sound of food beyond Chili's and their babyback ribs alternatives?

Maybe I'm missing something, though. Are there chefs out there who are experimenting with the sound of food in a higher end, non-gross way? If not, really, why not? Where are you?

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