Tuesday 20 March 2018

The secret of a perfect Christmas dinner? Use jam

Christmas duck
Christmas duck

Saffron Alexander

The science of a perfect Christmas dinner? Put jam in your gravy and arrange Brussels sprouts in triangles.

Getting the big dinner perfect can be a daunting task, but a scientist has claimed he has the solution.

Oxford University neurogastronomist Charles Michel found the key to success is using jam in your gravy, being generous with the sauce and arranging foods symmetrically.

During the two-week research project, which was carried out with supermarket Asda, Michel discovered  that copying the Swedes and putting a teaspoon of sweet jam or marmalade into your gravy “adds an injection of indulgence during your Christmas feast”.

If you want your guests to think highly of you, symmetry is key.


“Foods that are neatly presented in vertical and horizontal lines are perceived as expensive, as our eyes attribute more beauty to symmetrical compositions,” Michel says.

“Everything happening on one side of the plate should be a mirror image of the other side to make it more appealing and premium. Triangle shapes are preferred.”

Creating a perfect sauce is also integral to a successful dinner, with thickness the most important factor.

“Texture might even evoke more pleasure than the taste of food, as it is texture that caresses the taste buds of the tongue, so Christmas dinner is best enjoyed when covered with thick, glossy sauces.”


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