A study at Oxford University has suggested particular genres of music can enhance the taste of certain dishes. The research argued that Taylor Swift could soon prove to be a popular ingredient for Chinese takeaways and Justin Bieber could help your diet.The project was coordinated by Professor Charles Spence, Professor of Experimental Psychology at Somerville College, building upon his previous work in analysing “multisensory illusions” and “multisensory perception.” Professor Spence has previously concluded that the material of a spoon changes how one perceives the taste of a meal, as does plate colour.The ‘gastrophysics’ study was carried out via 700 volunteers listening to songs from a variety of genres while eating takeaway cuisine; they then rated the dishes’ quality on a scale of one to ten. Spence told The Times, “Nobody has looked at spiciness and music before…if there is music that is more alerting, more arousing, then people appreciate spicier food more.” Amongst other findings, the study concluded Bruce Springsteen renders food spicier whilst Nina Simone reduces it – but she’s the ideal audial side-dish for sushi. Prokofiev turns out to be great for pasta.“It is an exciting area,” says Professor Spence. “How soundscapes and music come together with taste to make the whole experience more stimulating, more enjoyable and possibly even more memorable.” Spence has collaborated with the similarly innovative Heston Blumenthal, and was instrumental in preparing a seafood dish at the Fat Duck restaurant – one served to diners complete with iPod, emitting the sound of crashing waves.Spence’s discovery of what he terms “a kind of digital seasoning” also has commercial implications. The study was commissioned by Just Eat, an Internet-based takeaway-ordering company; Spence revealed that they are considering providing music with their meals. Graham Corfield, managing director of Just Eat, commented: “We wanted to discover why music has such an impact on the enjoyment of takeaways. Playing some pop might just enhance your pad thai.” More food for thought is the conclusion that classical music improves customer satisfaction; one St John’s student suggested to Cherwell, “Maybe Professor Spence can advise our chefs on how to make formal hall taste any better.”The study was also concerned to look at how music use could manipulate consumers to make healthier food choices. Professor Spence found, “salty is the hardest one to get musically.” He did, however, suggest one possible route for reducing junk-food consumption. Spence advises, “Don’t play Justin Bieber when you order a takeaway”– his music is bad for one’s appetite.