Going bananas over sorbet

When it comes to perception, we often assume that others experience the world in much the same way as we do.  We take for granted that what we see, hear, touch, smell, and taste are accurate representations of the world in which we live, and that others would experience it similarly.  Sometimes we are reminded that our experiences of the same stimuli can differ quite greatly.  My wife and I had such an experience recently.

With my wife’s mother offering to babysit recently, I was charged with the task of finding somewhere nice to take my wife Ingrid for dinner.  She had wanted to visit Guillaume at Bennelong for some time now, so I surprised her with an impromptu dinner.  Here are some pictures and an interesting difference of opinion regarding the dessert:

I started with a Ballotine of Quail.  This dish didn’t thrill me, and I found the sauce to be a little strong, perhaps over-reduced?  My mood would soon pick up though…

We both opted for the Lamb for main.  It comprised braised shoulder, roasted leg, and sweetbreads over a cumin puree.  This was delicious.  Wonderfully rich and flavoursome lamb, with nice cumin/spice flavours to add intrigue.  This was a very generous serving too.  There was nothing pretentious or fiddly here; just great lamb cooked perfectly.

We received a pre-dessert of Pannacotta with Fresh Strawberries.  At this stage, this small complimentary pre-dessert would have sufficed and left us very happy.  It was delicious.  But we had desserts proper on the way and pressed on…

For my dessert I selected the Chocolate Mouse.  I do not know how I ate this, it was so rich!  Impossibly rich.  The gold leaf on top clearly announces the indulgence of this dish.  But ate it I did, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Meanwhile, Ingrid had selected the Passionfruit Souffle.  It was here that our tastes diverted, specifically with regard to the sorbet on the far right of the plate.  Ingrid tasted it and expressed amazement at the strong, authentic flavour.  I tasted it too and said yes, it does have a very strong passionfruit flavour.  Ingrid was surprised and said that it tasted precisely like banana.  This was strange.  Each of us was entirely convinced of our own perception.  We asked our waiter to adjudicate.  He informed us that it was a banana and passionfruit sorbet.  So I guess we were both right; sort-of.  But it’s interesting how clearly each of us experienced one of the flavours present and failed to even perceive the other.

It’s not merely the case that we each enjoy different flavours; we may actually perceive flavours – character, intensity, and even identity – in very different ways.

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2 Responses to Going bananas over sorbet

  1. Andrew Crane says:

    Isn’t it possible that something was making your wife’s palate a little different during this period?

    • Mark says:

      Definitely! Pregnancy certainly affects one’s senses; it’s one of the many factors that can influence individual differences in taste and smell. Now that she and baby are home, it’s relieving to hear that she prefers my cooking to the hospital food…although perhaps her senses are still recovering?