Monday, 13 September 2010

Toast? What's YOUR Feel Good Food Smell?

Professor Tim Jacob, at the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University, has found that the smell of toast is Britain's most loved food smell. A recent survey by the Flour Advisory Bureau found that we are a nation of toast lovers with a whopping 99% of us putting our hands up to loving toast.

Apparently, toast triggers memories and evokes feelings of happiness in what is called the 'Proust Effect' – where a smell is firmly linked with pleasant memories, in this case those of family life.

At a time of year when 2 million students are heading to university, with tight budgets and, for many, limited cooking experience, toast is likely to feature heavily in their diets.

Professor Jacob explains, "Most families eat toast for breakfast and the distinctive smell of toast delivers a feel-good factor by evoking comforting childhood memories. It is entirely conceivable that students can sniff their way back to happy childhoods with the aroma of toast - delivering a warm, feel- good factor across countless breakfast tables and student hall of residences throughout the nation."

He concludes, "It is clear that toast reminds us of family. Breakfast, the meal where most toast is consumed, is a family meal and this association stays with us. Toast is used as a treat and to cheer us up, so when we leave home toast recalls family breakfasts and is therefore comforting. Psychologically, a process of conditioned association occurs to link toast and the smell and flavour of toast with key moments in our lives - family moments."

stevenbrisson toast creative commons
image by Steven Brisson (creative commons license, some rights reserved)

The top ten toppings for toast are butter (or margarine *shudder*), cheese, egg, jam, marmalade, baked beans, Marmite, bacon, peanut butter and honey.

So, I have two questions for you:

What are your favourite toast toppings?

What is your favourite food smell – the one that triggers feelings of happiness and comfort in you?

Students looking for some inspiration might like to visit Beyond Baked Beans, a site bursting with easy recipes, budget tips and simple cooking techniques for those cooking on a budget.


The kitchen princess diaries said...

Favourite toast toppings> marmite and cheese, grilled tomatoes or peanut butter.

Favourite food smell roasting meat.

Uma tal de Patrícia said...

My favourite topping on toast is butter. Loads of it, of course.
My favourite food smell is the smell of bread baking. Nobody baked bread at my place when I was a kid, so it's not like I am connecting with childhood memories, but it's something I do now and love doing.

Fiona Beckett said...

Great post, Kavey and thanks for the link to the site. Favourite toast topping? Grilled cheese without a doubt, preferably in the form of a rarebit. And favourite smell? Bacon frying. The one thing guaranteed to get me up in the morning!

Suelle said...

Favourite topping for toast - butter. Butter and honey run a close second! I don't like eggs or beans ON the toast - real toast lovers don't want soggy toast!

Favourite comforting food smell - beef casseroles, I think, which is strange, as I hated my mother's beef casseroles! Perhaps I've been away from my childhood home so long that my 'comforting' memories come from my early adulthood.

Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours said...

Patum everytime.

I love the smell of a feshly opened packet of ground coffee. I put my nose in and inhale, try to avoid snorting some. Not good.

The London Foodie said...

I like my toasts with loads of butter and nothing else. There is something about the combination of toast, butter and black coffee that is so fantastic for me.

The most comforting food smell for me has got to be of bread or cakes being freshly baked. Yum!

Luiz @ The London Foodie

The Shed said...

I'm usually a butter-only type but occasionally indulge in a smudge of marmite or some plum jam, and have been known to top buttered toast with leftover curry. Elegant it isn't, but it tastes so good!

My favourite smells have to be freshly ground coffee, and roasting pork. Preferably drinking one while waiting for the other to cook...

Those and freshly chopped lemongrass/lime leaves...heavenly.

Anonymous said...

White toast with butter and cold jam = food of kings.

The best food smell has to be onions frying in butter. Lots and lots of butter.

Mr Noodles said...

Toast just needs butter. That said, add some bacon and a fried egg and we have a great start to the day.

Favourite food smell has to be star anise/five-spice. It brings back childhood food memories.

Chris said...

If people like toast because it reminds us of childhood, why do children like toast?

Dave said...

Fave topping for toast is butter (lots of it) and scrambled eggs.

A smell of my childhood is onion rings. Don't ask, but it is comforting.

Jamones Abuxarra said...

Ummmm,pan tostado con jamón serrano mi preferido!!

things we make said...

Toast with lots of real dairy butter.
The smell of a roast beef dinner, oh and fresh baked bread too.
All comforting in their own way :o)

Kavey said...

Some great choices, everyone, thanks for joining in!

Toast toppings: butter, Marmite, cheese, tomatoes, peanut butter, butter and honey, patum, plum jam, leftover curry, bacon and fried eggs, scrambled eggs, jamon serrano...

Smells: roasting meat, bread baking, bacon frying, cakes baking, beef casseroles, freshly ground coffee, freshly chopped lemongrass and lime leaves, onions frying in butter, star anise and five spice, onion rings...

Speaking of peanut butter those of you who love it (like me) are you one of those weirdos who butter and then peanut butter or is the peanut butter oily enough for you on it's own?

My favourites, incidentally:

Toast - 1) Butter 2) Peanut butter 3) Butter and strawberry jam 4) Butter and Marmite

Smells - 1) Roasting meats 2) Baking bread and cakes 3) Freshly made coffee, even though I don't drink it

Christine Hawthorne said...

Toast toppings - mine would have to be 'real' butter - not that which pretends to be 'butter', marmite, peanut butter, poached or scrambled egg.

Smells - would have to be roast dinners cooking, mainly beef though, bread, soup, coffee, freshly chopped herbs, bacon - I could mention many more!

Kavey said...

Christine, yes yes yes to real butter. Margarine is banished in our house, never ever buy it. Our staff canteen uses it by default so I always have to specify real butter, and they'll use butter from individual packets instead of the yuck in their spread bowl.

Haddock in the Kitchen said...

Toast toppings - French salted butter with salt crystals in it, Marmite and peanut butter.

Laura Nickoll said...

Definitely lashings of cold butter, and peanut butter (yes, butter on butter), or runny honey.

Favourite food smells: bacon, chicken roasting, cakes baking.

Greedy Diva said...

It has to be Vegemite (not Marmite unless I am down to my emergency stash) or avocado.

Toast or the smell of roast lamb. Or onions frying. Or a sausages on a BBQ. Or the smell of champagne leads to much happiness

meemalee said...

My guilty pleasure is cold toast with a slight crunch slathered in butter that's still visible and Marmite.

When I'm feeling poncy, I like a hot toast, melted butter and Earl Grey confit jam.

Kavey said...

Top quality French butter definitely a good choice!

Vegemite is just wrong... so bland and kind of more greasy than Marmite and uuugh! ;)

Meemalee, that IS poncy! ;)

Wen said...

Toast topping > butter, sugar and powdered cinnamon. The toast has to be HOT

Fave smell > Tough choice! Satay grilling on charcoal by the sea. Smoky caramelly spicy meat with a whiff of salty air. This is the smell of where I grew up in Singapore.

Kavey said...

Not so sure about the toast, though it works with french toast/ eggy bread!
But loving your food smell!

Anonymous said...

My favorite smell is that of onions carmelizing in my mom's cast iron skillet. The sweet/pungent aroma of the onions combined beautifully with the increasingly cool breezes as summer gave way to autumn. Since those onions were the basis of many curries (daals as well as meats), the aroma of onions was a weekend morning fixture. (Mom was back at work by the time I was in middle school, so she focused on cooking ahead for the family on Saturday mornings).

Fantastic question! :o)

Kavey said...

Mmmm, caramelising onions, a magical smell!