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Senses of Eating: Savouring the First Bite

This article is brought to you by foodpanda.

We can all agree that there is a universal sense of excitement surrounding the first bite of food. Whatever our background, we all share a love for a great food experience, whether at work or at home, alone or with friends. To prove this notion, foodpanda conducted a survey across nine of its markets in conjunction with their “Take the first bite” campaign and received more than 2,000 customer responses.

These responses have helped to analyse and understand the culinary experience, as well as the senses and moments that play a pivotal role in it. So what is the ultimate moment of that delicious food experience? Is it choosing food from a menu? The anticipation before it arrives? Is it the first bite, or the last forkful?

If you answered the first bite, then you are supported by 64% of people worldwide and an astounding 62% of people in Malaysia! These responses have helped us to analyse and understand the culinary experience, as well as the senses and moments that play a pivotal role in it.

But do specific senses play a bigger role when it comes to reaching for the first bite? According to foodpanda’s global results, yes, and the key sense isn’t taste! It seems that sight and smell are the most heightened senses, resulting in 66% and 56% respectively, followed by taste at 53%. So we can safely conclude that the aesthetics of food are super important.

In Malaysia, the most heightened sense is taste at a massive 59%, followed by sight (58%) and smell (56%). We were surprised taste was not a front runner globally, like it evidently is in Brunei (73%). Another exception to the rule is the Philippines, with smell being the most heightened sense at 74%.

When it comes to sharing food, people seem to fall on different sides of the spectrum. Some love sharing their food while others totally oppose it (but don’t mind taking a bite out of someone else’s), while the rest don’t like food sharing at all. When foodpanda asked its customers whether they would happily offer their first bite of food, we were surprised to see that 80% actually said yes! Even more notable, Malaysians scored above the average at 76%, but falling short of Hong Kongers and Taiwanese who scored 95% and 94% respectively. The conclusion? Let’s make more friends with foodpanda!

Have you ever reflected on your first physical reaction when taking that delicious, mouthwatering first bite of food? 35% of people close their eyes and simply enjoy this experience and almost a half of the Malaysian respondents seem to agree (35%)! Interestingly, 56% of Hong Kong people cite having butterflies in their stomach. In addition, 18% of respondents said that their hearts race and 5% get goosebumps. Something of an experience, right?

Seeing as all senses play a part in the eating experience, foodpanda was bound to ask its customers which sense they would give up if they had to choose. Apparently, 68% of respondents would be willing to give up their own sense of hearing if it meant being able to see, smell, touch or taste food. Malaysians agree with the majority of the world, and opt for giving up on hearing as well (65%).

The world is full of people who share not just the joy of eating, but also the joy of trying new cuisines. In fact, 84% of foodpanda customers last tried something completely new recently (51% in the last week and an additional 33% in the last month). Now that says a lot about the excitement of foodpanda customers! Malaysians are also food adventurers, with 46% having tried something new in the last week and 33% in the last month. The most excited food explorers, however, are the Taiwanese, with 65% of respondents having tried something in the last week alone.

We’re all different and diverse, which is what makes a world so beautiful. Globally, we all love to experience a unique food experience, no matter how, when or with whom or the why. And if you haven’t had a new food experience recently, then go ahead and experience countless cuisines and dishes with foodpanda!

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