How I doubled my enjoyment of delicious meals

I was once a very silly foodie.

I would venture to restaurants in eager anticipation of delicious food, only to absent-mindedly shove it down my mouth when it arrived. After seeing an empty plate in front of me and wondering disappointedly where all the food had gone, I would pay, leave, and promptly forget everything about the meal.

I eventually realized there were better ways for me to enjoy my food.

I’ve since come up with a set of tips and techniques to savor the delicous meals that come my way, and to recall the contents of every meal I’ve had worth remembering. While they may not be worth keeping in mind when you’re only eating for sustenance or as a backdrop for socializing, they’ll help make your gastronomic indulgences worth every penny.

Tips for savoring

A few things I’d recommend doing before highly anticipated meals:

  • Fast. You’ll enjoy the meal more and get to eat more on an empty stomach.
  • Leave an open schedule. If you’re constantly feeling rushed during a meal, you’ll enjoy it significantly less.

By default, we’re only conscious of our meals at their beginnings and ends. If our goal is to enjoy our meals as much as possible, it’s obviously better to be conscious of them the entire time. Some tips for doing so:

  • Put your electronics away. A ding from your phone will distract you when you’re savoring a bite. An open web browser will tempt your attention away from your food.
  • Close your eyes. You’re focusing on your food, not your surroundings.
  • Stop talking. Whenever I splurge on food, I impose a moratorium on conversation for some time after the dishes come out. I’m there for the food, not the conversation, which I can get over more pedestrian meals.
  • Pick things to focus on. Focusing on food is easier when there are specific things to look out for. A few things I try to notice:
    • The taste. How would I describe the taste? How does its actual taste compare with what I would imagine?
    • The texture. How would I describe the texture?
    • The ingredients. If I have a list of ingredients handy, I pick out each ingredient and see if I can taste it in each of my bites.

Some things I do over the course of a meal:

  • Take small bites. Moderate-sized bites have the same amount of taste as big bites, and leave me more time to enjoy a meal.
  • Ogle my food. Every now and then, I marvel at the little details of my next forkful of food and think about how great it would be in my mouth. The anticipation makes my next mouthful all the more glorious. (This is kind of like when I ogle a picture of food online, except I actually get to eat it.)
  • Take breaks when filling up. If I’m getting full, I don’t think it makes sense to stuff a dish down my throat just for the sake of finishing it. Instead, I’d either leave or ask my waiter to wait a while before serving the next course.

Finally, some tips for keeping a well-savored meal in your memory:

  • Quiz yourself on the taste. In between bites, look at your food and try to recall its taste. With the conjured taste in mind, bite into your food and compare it with the actual taste. (This is analogous to studying a vocabulary flashcard, except you’re pairing sights and tastes instead of words and definitions.)
  • Cycle through the different items on your dish while quizzing yourself. If you’re learning vocabulary flashcards, would you just pick flashcards to study at random? Or would you study each card for a bit, then cycle through them?
  • Take pictures of your food. An extremely simple way to ensure that none of your dishes fall into the abyss of forgotten memories. It’s also nice to be able to look through old food pictures like a hungry little kid flipping through a food magazine, with the difference that you know exactly what it was like to eat each of the foods.

I find that if I quiz myself on the taste of a dish, a picture of that dish will bring its taste to my mind. Thus, by combining the above three tips, I can remember the tastes of any food I choose.

Got your own tips for enjoying food? Share them in the comments!

One thought on “How I doubled my enjoyment of delicious meals

  1. Neil

    Putting your fork down between bites of food is an excellent complement to the chewing habit. The act of setting your fork down forces you to focus on chewing your food rather than letting yourself mindlessly pick at your plate for your next bite. It also encourages you to slow down and attend more to the taste of your food, instead of just shoveling it down your throat as quickly as possible.

    Reply

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