Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Flavors When Hungry, More Seashell Sounds

Dear Matthew: Is it just me, or does food generally taste better when we’re hungry? I swear I can barbecue for the family at home and the food doesn’t taste special, but then we can go to the beach and make the same meal and it will taste wonderful to me. I’m not sure that makes sense, but I think that’s how I react to food. Does something happen to us that makes food taste better in your mouth when you’re hungry? — BBQueen, O.B.

Okay, Grandma made me answer this one. I was ready to let it go, but she applied her usual pressure (do your own laundry, no pies) until I gave in. So, okay, Queen, why not have stuff taste better when we’re hungry? It makes ordinary sense, but does it make science sense? Well, yep. “Hungry” has a lot of definitions, unfortunately. Nobody’s exactly sure how the system works because it’s a combination of chemistry, neurology, physiology, and psychology. And the psychology always throws off the science stuff and sends the lab coats back to their test ­tubes.

It’s pretty well established in lab studies that your sense of taste is all hopped up after you’ve been deprived of food for a while. The human tongue seems a bit more sensitive to the basic tastes of salty, sweet, etc. A big meal dulls taste buds; e.g., it takes more salt for a big eater to recognize the taste of salt at the end of a meal. And when we have a lot of a specific hunger-causing hormone in our bodies, we find food more appealing in all ways, visually and taste-wise. So it looks as though, yes, if you’re truly hungry, food is going to taste better. Hunger is the basic instinct that drives us toward food, so I guess it’s sensible that taste would be the reward for finding the ­food.

The fresh air, exercise, and good vibes of the beach probably add some of that psychological edge to the whole situation, even though you’re eating stuff you make at home. But consider that when you cook at home, you are constantly surrounded by the smells of the cooking food. Since smell is a major part of taste, cooking at home might give you “smell fatigue,” which is a recognized condition. You smell something long enough, and you lose your sensitivity to it (like the lady with too much perfume on). Anyway, I hope you and Grandma are happy now. Yes, you’re right; and, yes, science guys spend an awful lot of money proving some pretty obvious ­things.

Sound of the Seashore?

No, the sound of your blood vessels. Imagine recording sounds as faint as your ear can hear it…not possible, right? Now imagine recoding these sounds with a microphone surrounded by rushing water. Even more impossible. But as a result of millions of years of evolution, your brain has figured out how to cancel out that ever-present white noise. Problem is, if you put your fingers in your ear, or even worse: put a hollow shell (cupped hands, tin can, whatever) over your ears, your brain will have to adapt to the new environment before it can cancel out the sound again. That takes time. Until then you’ll hear the blood rushing around in your head. — Isabella’s Dad (in O.B.)

Oh, sorry, Isabella. This doesn’t mean that your dad isn’t the smartest man in the world, or at least O.B., but sometimes a bad fact gets in through the cracks and takes up residence before we even know it. This must be what happened to your dad and this roaring blood thing. Yeah, we sometimes can hear the blood in our ears, but that’s because it’s right there in our ears. And if you stick your fingers in your ears, it gets even louder, partly because you’re hearing your blood through your head bones. It’s the same way we think we’re terrific singers until we hear ourselves on tape and we’re amazed to hear how awful we sound. The song we’re hearing when we sing live is the sound that reaches our ears through our bones. The taped version is what everybody else hears, and it’s very different. Anyway, moving blood doesn’t make an ambient sound, and seashells get their sound from ambient noises. Scientists generally agree on this, partly because it’s been shown that if you put a shell up to your ear in a soundproof room, you hear nothing.

So, Isabella, your dad might need a few extra hugs for a while. He might look a little droopy. But he’ll be back to his old self pretty fast. And he’ll still be the smartest guy in, well, ­O.B.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Claudia Gomez‘s sound showers with Trio Gadjo and Besos de Coco

“Playing again has lifted everyone’s spirits.”
Next Article

Antebellum: Janelle Monáe’s Moment

If one must remake a movie, make sure it’s a bad one.

Dear Matthew: Is it just me, or does food generally taste better when we’re hungry? I swear I can barbecue for the family at home and the food doesn’t taste special, but then we can go to the beach and make the same meal and it will taste wonderful to me. I’m not sure that makes sense, but I think that’s how I react to food. Does something happen to us that makes food taste better in your mouth when you’re hungry? — BBQueen, O.B.

Okay, Grandma made me answer this one. I was ready to let it go, but she applied her usual pressure (do your own laundry, no pies) until I gave in. So, okay, Queen, why not have stuff taste better when we’re hungry? It makes ordinary sense, but does it make science sense? Well, yep. “Hungry” has a lot of definitions, unfortunately. Nobody’s exactly sure how the system works because it’s a combination of chemistry, neurology, physiology, and psychology. And the psychology always throws off the science stuff and sends the lab coats back to their test ­tubes.

It’s pretty well established in lab studies that your sense of taste is all hopped up after you’ve been deprived of food for a while. The human tongue seems a bit more sensitive to the basic tastes of salty, sweet, etc. A big meal dulls taste buds; e.g., it takes more salt for a big eater to recognize the taste of salt at the end of a meal. And when we have a lot of a specific hunger-causing hormone in our bodies, we find food more appealing in all ways, visually and taste-wise. So it looks as though, yes, if you’re truly hungry, food is going to taste better. Hunger is the basic instinct that drives us toward food, so I guess it’s sensible that taste would be the reward for finding the ­food.

The fresh air, exercise, and good vibes of the beach probably add some of that psychological edge to the whole situation, even though you’re eating stuff you make at home. But consider that when you cook at home, you are constantly surrounded by the smells of the cooking food. Since smell is a major part of taste, cooking at home might give you “smell fatigue,” which is a recognized condition. You smell something long enough, and you lose your sensitivity to it (like the lady with too much perfume on). Anyway, I hope you and Grandma are happy now. Yes, you’re right; and, yes, science guys spend an awful lot of money proving some pretty obvious ­things.

Sound of the Seashore?

No, the sound of your blood vessels. Imagine recording sounds as faint as your ear can hear it…not possible, right? Now imagine recoding these sounds with a microphone surrounded by rushing water. Even more impossible. But as a result of millions of years of evolution, your brain has figured out how to cancel out that ever-present white noise. Problem is, if you put your fingers in your ear, or even worse: put a hollow shell (cupped hands, tin can, whatever) over your ears, your brain will have to adapt to the new environment before it can cancel out the sound again. That takes time. Until then you’ll hear the blood rushing around in your head. — Isabella’s Dad (in O.B.)

Oh, sorry, Isabella. This doesn’t mean that your dad isn’t the smartest man in the world, or at least O.B., but sometimes a bad fact gets in through the cracks and takes up residence before we even know it. This must be what happened to your dad and this roaring blood thing. Yeah, we sometimes can hear the blood in our ears, but that’s because it’s right there in our ears. And if you stick your fingers in your ears, it gets even louder, partly because you’re hearing your blood through your head bones. It’s the same way we think we’re terrific singers until we hear ourselves on tape and we’re amazed to hear how awful we sound. The song we’re hearing when we sing live is the sound that reaches our ears through our bones. The taped version is what everybody else hears, and it’s very different. Anyway, moving blood doesn’t make an ambient sound, and seashells get their sound from ambient noises. Scientists generally agree on this, partly because it’s been shown that if you put a shell up to your ear in a soundproof room, you hear nothing.

So, Isabella, your dad might need a few extra hugs for a while. He might look a little droopy. But he’ll be back to his old self pretty fast. And he’ll still be the smartest guy in, well, ­O.B.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Henry Silva’s golden years

“Would you buy a used car from this son-of-a-gun?”
Next Article

What Beethoven's Fifth is not

An answer to vox.com
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close