Two years ago, an incensed group of Brits drew up a petition to address a matter that some deemed an act of “cultural vandalism”: the recipe for Cadbury Dairy Milk bars had changed. The new chocolate tasted “sweeter,” “sickly,” and “artificial,” irate candy lovers ranted online. An award-winning London chocolatier even weighed in, pronouncing the latest Dairy Milk formula to be “slightly nuttier” than its “milkier” antecedent. In fact, only the shape of the bar had been altered, its sharp corners and grid of squares rounded off to form a single column of chocolate with curved edges. This had, for some, completely transformed the flavor.
The Cadbury confusion involved two of the five senses, and confirmed the long-held wisdom that we “eat with our eyes.” But, as it turns out, our noses, ears, and fingers are crucial to the act of savoring, too. The technical term for this—the interplay between the senses—is crossmodal perception. Cadbury triggered it by accident, but a wave of chefs who champion what is known as “multisensory gastronomy” are exploiting it with ambitious intention. On three evenings each week through June, sixteen hungry people will file into Kitchen Theory, an “experimental kitchen” and pop-up restaurant in London, for a hundred-dollar tasting menu prepared by the chef Jozef Youssef, of the restaurants Fat Duck and Connaught, and the author of “Molecular Gastronomy at Home.”….