The power of colors.

It is scientifically proven that our brain associates positive or negative sensations with the color of food according to a „mental past“ that binds us to pleasant or unpleasant sensations experienced in the past; when a food comes in a different color from the one we are used to, we are immediately hit by a feeling of distrust and sometimes disgust. The color, therefore, becomes a warning sign and gives us primary indications on food: if a fruit is green it is unripe, if it has a beautiful color it is ripe and if it tends to brown it is rotten. Even before tasting it we already have a clear idea of the taste it will have, sour, sweet or acid, as if sight and taste were associated to create a unique sensation.

The colors make us feel good and have a great influence on man’s moods, in fact chromotherapy has very ancient origins, since traditional medicines have always attached great importance to the influence of colors on health; just think of the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks who practiced heliotherapy (exposure to direct sunlight) for the treatment of various ailments. In India too, it has always been taken into account how colors influence the balance of the chakras, the subtle energy centers that are associated with the main glands of the body thanks to Ayurvedic medicine. For the Chinese, the various colors were friendly to physical well-being: for example, the yellow color served to restore the intestine, while violet to stem epileptic attacks. In our times, chromotherapy is an integrative medicine, easy to combine with other therapies or treatments to enhance the result, which uses colors to help the body and psyche to regain their natural balance. Our body absorbs colors in different ways, for example through light irradiation, sunlight, solarized water, clothes, meditation, massage with special products and colored pigments and also through food, i.e. eating foods with their natural color. Color guides us in the choice of dishes, we often prefer a food because it is similar to our mood, but the link between colors and food is little known.

First of all, we must consider that sight is the first sense to interact with food to judge its opacity, shine and pearlescence. The study of color-flavor interactions represents a very interesting research area with over 100 scientific papers published to date. For example, a 1982 study revealed that increasing the red color of a drink increased the perception of sweetness. The influence of color on taste has been demonstrated in many foods (chocolate, butter, steak, cheese, jam and drinks) but not in all.

We must consider that color affects our choices through two distinct mechanisms: one is the multisensory approach that considers the relationships between the different senses (synaesthesia), the other is due to the meaning that colors have in our cultural context and therefore all influence of our expectations on taste.
The latter effect was studied by administering differently colored fruits to two samples: adults and children. In the case of adults the color associated with the degree of maturation influenced the judgment on sweetness. While in children who did not have the necessary experience to make this association, the color did not affect the judgment of sweetness.

In our culinary tradition many foods also reveal a symbolic value in the link between color and food:

WHITE: indicates light and purity. White foods communicate solemnity, as in wedding cakes, but also the simplicity of children who eat milk with rice.

RED: warm and exciting, foods of this color are considered energy carriers, such as meats, wines, strawberries or ripe tomatoes. Present in the uniforms of restaurant workers, it seems that the red color attracts the attention of the consumer.

GREEN: color of nature and vegetation is also the symbol of rebirth, strength and hope. Green is olive oil, green are spring vegetables such as asparagus, and broad beans. For the voracious, eating green seems to help slow down mealtimes.

YELLOW: solar, energetic reminiscent of gold like saffron risotto. It seems the favorite color for gourmands and not by chance the egg yolk and honey are among the main ingredients of the pastry, together with the rich and precious saffron.
BROWN: natural relaxation. It is the color of chocolate, and of dates, the main source of nourishment for nomadic populations.

The purple color is the color of meditation, spirituality and inspiration. The general effect of violet is to harmonize body, mind and spirit, interiority with the outside world.

We must consider that color affects our choices through two distinct mechanisms: one is the multisensory approach that considers the relationships between the different senses (synaesthesia), the other is due to the meaning that colors have in our cultural context and therefore all influence of our expectations on taste.
The latter effect was studied by administering differently colored fruits to two samples: adults and children. In the case of adults the color associated with the degree of maturation influenced the judgment on sweetness. While in children who did not have the necessary experience to make this association, the color did not affect the judgment of sweetness.

The relationship between humans and food does not cease to amaze me: it is all our senses and our memories that interact with food and decide its flavor, not just our palate or nose.

-linate

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