What Makes Food Taste Good?

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I must have done something right in my life since I am lucky enough to have married a (wonderful) man of Italian origin – which of course means delicious food whenever we visit his family in Italy.

This Easter, we decided to visit the region around Bologna, Parma and Modena –  places that gifted the world with food such as Parmesan cheese, Parma ham, salami, balsamic vinegar and stuffed pastas.

We didn’t plan any of our meals – we simply stumbled into the first restaurant we came across when we were hungry.

And every single meal we ate was amazing. Not just good, but amazing. And this got us thinking – what is the secret behind the world-renown food of this region?

Here is my attempt to put into words what makes food taste good based on my recent Italian road trip:

1. The quality of the ingredients

Italian cooking is based on using only the best quality ingredients. The preparation methods are very simple and rely on taste provided by the ingredients used rather than a complex preparation technique or heavy sauce.

2. Food is prepared with love – or at least pride

My mother used to say this was the secret ingredient in her cooking and my adolescent self would roll her eyes. My adult self has to admit that this really makes a difference. A few of the very simple restaurants we ate at still had the 80 year old owner taking our order and making sure the food was prepared just right. People are proud of food and food preparation is taken seriously.

3. Umami elements

Many of the ingredients we associate with Italian food such as tomatoes, olives/olive oil, garlic, onion, Parmesan, cured meats, balsamic vinegar, mushrooms etc are actually umami. As I have written before, adding elements of umami to your dishes is a sure way to boost taste – and when we boost taste, we also reduce cravings and overeating, as these happen when we eat food that isn’t exciting enough for our taste buds.

4. Being hungry

Being hungry enough to truly enjoy a meal is a gift we give ourselves. When we are constantly snacking and avoid ever getting really hungry, we can’t appreciate food in the same way.

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I would love to hear from you – what makes food taste good in your opinion? 

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5 Comments

  • Paula on May 20, 2014 Reply

    Hi Hiba!

    I really miss our sessions. I received a wonderful compliment from my mum on my dinner last night and I felt so proud of my food and it really tasted wonderful! I am cooking your easy lentils recipe tonight with lots of love… I can’t wait for the compliments…

    Thank you!

    • Hiba on May 20, 2014 Reply

      hi Paula! Well done on the compliments :)

  • Faris on May 14, 2014 Reply

    I think the love part turns ordinary food into an extraordinary meal!!

  • Nesrin on May 13, 2014 Reply

    What a wonderful culinary journey and how true! Meals made with simple but wonderful high quality ingredients and cooked with love are delicious. Your mum is right about the secret ingredient. I’m going to make sure that goes into all the meals I make, no matter how fast or simple!

    • Hiba on May 13, 2014 Reply

      Great idea Nesrin!

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