I was very interested in this workshop, it was publicized as a culinary psychology experiment directed mainly by students of the Universita di Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo. It began with a comment from a professor… He informed us that there would be no direction given; no information provided.
I observed the audience exchange quizzical glances and excited smiles. The first things to arrive were 2 suspicious looking black wine glasses. We were told that the intention of the panel was to gauge our reactions to the different items presented to us. Therefore we were to taste, experience and comment. We sampled the liquids in the glasses and my first observation was the difference in temperature. They both smelled of fermentation or alcohol. I allowed each to warm on my tongue separately and then had difficulty distinguishing them from each other.
We learned after several hesitant comments that the glasses did in fact contain wine and also contained the very same wine just served at different temperatures. The experiment being to see if the common standard of temperature at which wine should be served would lead us to assume if one was red and one was white. The wine was a white Sicilian Chardonnay, one served at 4° and the other at 20°.
The workshop continued on with several experiments based on cultural, visual, gustatory and lingual perceptions. We tried a dish named the virtual oyster. We tasted wine from bottles wrapped in Aluminum. The items ranged from fluid to solid attempting to alter our prior assumptions. We ate with our eyes closed and exchanged thoughts and ideas as to what each new item was.
Possibly the highlight of the workshop was receiving a nice box with a shiny label that read “Cioccolato Originale”. We awaited our cue from the workshop panel to open our boxes simultaneously and then the room was filled with giggles and childish squeals. The boxes contained Gianduja. For those of you unfamiliar with this product, it is an Italian chocolate mixed with hazelnut cream and ground hazelnuts.
The chocolate we received was exactly that. Italian chocolate with hazelnuts. Italian chocolate with hazelnuts …in the shape of dog poo! The experiment was to see whether we would eat it or not based on its unsavory shape. Never one to turn down chocolate, and always in the mood for something unusual, I proceeded to chomp down on my delicious dog poo delight!
The workshop was fun, interesting and different. I applaud the students of the Universita di Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo!