How to Appreciate Food Like a Master Chef

Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants event in Bogotá has us thinking about techniques—but not for preparing food, for enjoying it. Master chefs don’t just cook better than you and I do, they also know how to appreciate food on a deeper level. Fortunately, you don’t need a culinary background to make the most of every bite. Here are 5 tips for savoring food like an expert chef.

Deconstruct your food

When you pay attention to the ingredients that go into a dish, it’s easier to appreciate the meal as a whole. After all, great dishes are often the result of using superior ingredients. To accomplish this, isolate individual components and taste them on their own. After using this technique, you may start to notice subtle nuances, such as how some ingredients can enhance others.

Focus on taste groups

You can create a more mindful eating experience by simply paying attention to the basic taste groups. Start by asking yourself, “Is this sweet? Sour? Bitter? Salty? Umami?” Then, consider other qualities such as pungency, spiciness, and heartiness.

Take note of texture

One of the first things we notice when taking a bite of something is mouth feel. That’s because texture helps our brains categorize foods and identify qualities, such as freshness. When focusing on texture, think to yourself, “Are these salad leaves crisp? Does this bread have the appropriate crunch?”

Treat wine as a condiment

It’s no coincidence that many of Latin America’s top chefs are also wine aficionados. When paired correctly, wine has the unmatched ability to enhance the flavor of its food counterpart. The key is to treat wine not as a separate part of the meal but as a condiment that adds flavor to whatever you’re eating.

Take your time

The suggestions above all have one thing in common: time. It takes time to properly recognize the nuances in food and to form opinions about them, so make an effort to carve out enough time to enjoy each bite by intentionally slowing your pace.

 

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