A Gustatory Illusion

I’ve been very interested in food in the past few weeks, and also in the human perception of food and taste.
I think food that is done and served well could definitely feel like magic.

So, for this week I wanted to try and do a gustatory (taste) illusion.
Research regarding our perception of taste as already been done before, and it is extremely interesting!
One famous experiment is the Fake tongue illusion
Other very interesting work has been done by the british chef Heston Blumenthal (1, 2)
And by the artist Miriam Simun

I’ve decided to combine the facts I learned from the above readings with a show.
For this magic I used 3 pairs of wooden chopsticks, 3 small plates, 1 strawberry and a knife

When showing the magic, I asked a volunteer from the audience to cut the strawberry into 3 equal pieces and put one piece in each plate.
Than, the audience member was asked to eat the first (left most) piece of strawberry and describe it’s taste.
I then did a “magic movement” above the second strawberry. Now the second piece should taste differently from the first one. even though it was the same strawberry! and a different taste for the third piece as well.
The magic performed in class did not work well as I expected (worked better when I tested this on my office mates) but the third strawberry piece did tasted a little different (according to my volunteer).

The trick was adding different scents to the chopsticks. When holding the scented chopstick near the nose the smell has an effect on the way taste feels.