Those associations can then be used to trigger the reward system even when the perceived reward is smaller than the actual one. Take vanilla. Vanilla isn’t actually sweet. It’s quite bitter. But in the Western world, we have come to associate it with sweet foods, and so, to us, it signals sweetness. When we smell it, our sweet receptors go on high alert—and the food we eat tastes sweeter than it otherwise would.
— Maria Konnikova writes about the emerging field of neurogastronomy and Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant The Fat Duck. Read more at This Man Will Transform How You Eat at New Republic.