I’m Dr. Arielle Johnson and I’m really, really interested in food and flavor, especially in the contexts of cooking, restaurants, and food systems. My PhD dissertation focused on flavor chemistry and gastronomy, I was the in-house R&D scientist for the world’s best restaurant, and I’m a Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab.
My formal training is in analytical chemistry and sensory analysis but I am ecumenical in choice of tools for locating, analyzing, and creating knowledge about food, flavor, and the systems that they inhabit.
Flavor is a composite sense evolved to integrate taste and smell (with input from the other senses) to give us information and pleasure from the food we eat.
Flavor is a visceral link, perhaps the most essential link, between culture, evolution, ecology, health, and biodiversity:
In the brain, flavor cross-talks extensively with emotions and memory.
On the sensory side, flavor comes from many different kinds of molecules, produced by plants, animals, and microbes as attractants, weapons, adaptations, by-products of other biologically useful molecules, and from cooking.