Sensations and memories
Has it ever happened to you that you are walking down the street and you pass by someone you don’t know but who wears a perfume that awakens memories that have been forgotten for years? Perhaps, they were just waiting for the moment to be revived. Human beings can live in different realities, being all a matter of perspective, or we could say “perception.” Our brain is incredible and, in a very particular way, makes the senses our gateway to the world around us; they are the tools that allow us to interpret our world.
Research and studies to understand our brains have been going on for several years and have accelerated recently thanks to technological advances. At the same time, companies are focused on recreating the sensations we find in things as simple as food. It’s all about the experience; the neural connections that are established in our brain associating aromas, flavours, and sensations in general; and this is what International Flavors & Fragrances (NYSE: IFF) is trying to develop, a company that works with the senses, designing flavours and aromas so that other companies can then apply them to their products.
Food has the ability to use most of our senses at the same time; the aroma manages to capture us while it is being prepared, the sight determines if it looks appetizing, while the touch can tell us a lot about the texture, but the most important of all is the taste, it is the determinant at the time of tasting a dish.
I dare to affirm that food has two parts, the physical, which is what I mentioned before; we prepare it, we can touch and smell it, and what I could call the emotional part. The brain is a box of surprises and works in different ways, and each one can have a different interpretation food is no exception; that is, food has a different meaning for each person. For example, we all know the smell of freshly baked bread or the smell of delicious freshly brewed coffee, but perhaps to someone, it takes them back to childhood; to another, it reminds them of a very dear person in their family, of meetings with friends or of a moment in life that was important.
We may agree or not, but in my opinion, one of the best gastronomies in the world is French. Elegant, avant-garde and exquisite are some of the characteristics of this cuisine, and its classic dishes are indisputable. Ratatouille is a typical preparation from the south of France. But it is also the name of a well-known Disney movie that knew how to interpret the power of food, what it transmits and the meaning it has for everyone.
If you have seen it, the name Anton Ego will be more than familiar to you. He is a successful and impeccable cooking critic, and in the movie, you can see two versions of this character; at first a cold personality, quite serious and unfriendly, but at one point, the cook of the film prepares him a delicious dish: the classic Ratatouille, which stirred Anton’s memories, and took him to his childhood, to relive the days when his mother prepared him this stew of different vegetables. This journey into his past changed his attitude and his mood.
Aromas and their relationship with our ways of acting have also been reflected in other movies. Have you seen “Perfume”? It tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a young man with a highly developed sense of smell who lives obsessed with creating the perfect perfume. This quest turns him into an unscrupulous man, capable of doing anything to achieve his goal, so he becomes a killer of young women to try to capture their unique scents.
International Flavors & Fragrances (NYSE: IFF) understands the importance of fragrances in all aspects of our lives perfectly, so it is dedicated to creating scents and fragrances that different industries, including food, beverages, personal care and household products, will use. They recreate what consumers know and love, and so in a way, they also replicate the sensations that are all around us, the ones that connect us with the world and with the experiences that transport us to a special moment in our lives, to those memories that for some reason have marked us. Something happens inside us that we can travel with our mind to that special moment, thanks to a simple but unforgettable aroma or flavour.