Dear Kitchen Shrink,
”Why do I lose my appetite for the meal that I just spent hours preparing?”
Kitchen Shrink replies:
Your appetite takes a dive after cooking for two reasons: First, it is the nature of the human olfactory system, but a part of the reason may be emotional, too.
While cooking, you are exposed to a multitude of aromas and tastes, especially if you are sampling your food to check seasoning. After a few minutes, your brain experiences what is called nasal and also tongue “fatigue.” Researchers suggest that you can re-awaken your taste receptors and appetite by having a cup of coffee. The high vibration intensity from coffee odor molecules may cause the detachment of present food odorant from the olfactory receptors, get your saliva flowing anew, and stimulate your hunger again.
On an emotional level, do you get anxious about how your guests will respond to your meal? It is not uncommon, when entertaining, that being both the host and doing the cooking is stressful. Do you ever feel worn out after all that planning, chopping, sauté-ing, and presentation that is required into getting that special meal on the table? It can be quite exhausting. After all that exertion, much like sweating after exercise, hunger is diminished. Add in the extra pressure to make it look easy and to look damn good while you are doing it, and it is not unusual for the appetite to go south. Sipping wine during the cooking process is socially charming, but may also contribute to curbing your appetite by the time the plates hit the table.
I mean, I really hate to get all psychological on you, but smell is a very powerful source of pleasure and pain and can awaken in an individual many deep memories and emotions. The smell of things burning or other foul odors can trigger emotional responses and serve as warning systems. Perhaps some of your cooking techniques trigger these responses in you, but hopefully, not in your guests.