Why Does Food Taste Better When Someone Else Makes It?

published Sep 18, 2012
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Why does food (and especially a sandwich!) always taste better when someone else makes it? My mother makes a simple but delicious sandwich every day for lunch. Always the same, she slices good hearth bread, slathers it with Hellman’s Best Mayo on both slices, adds a few squares of Swiss cheese and piles on several leaves of crunchy lettuce or occasionally baby spinach. On goes the top, and with a slice down the middle, there it is — the perfect sandwich. Whenever I visit her, I look forward to lunchtime when I can share in her delicious daily ritual. So why doesn’t the sandwich taste as good when I make it at home?

I use all the same ingredients, slathering on the mayo with as much abandon, cutting it at the same angle. And yet, when I take a bite of my self-made sandwich, it’s just not as good. I think there are three reasons for this.

The first is that in general, food prepared by other people always tastes better. This is why one can be an excellent home cook but still enjoy eating out. Having someone else take on the labor and love of preparing a meal is a real treat and definitely ‘seasons the sauce.’

Similarly, sometimes when I cook, by the time I sit down to eat my dish I’m kind of done with it. Between tasting it for seasonings and doneness and inhaling all the aromas of cooking, I don’t get that clean, first-bite thrill when I actually eat it. There are no surprises in flavor or texture. So while I can be satisfied that it tastes good or even great, it’s more of a confirmation than a discovery. (This explanation works for complex cooked dishes but perhaps not for a simple sandwich.)

Finally, the main reason why I think my mother’s sandwich tastes better is quite simply because my mother made it. A sandwich is a classic made-by-mom treat and even when as an adult, there’s still something special about eating a sandwich made by your mother. In this case, the sauce is being seasoned by love or at least it’s that way with my mum!

Related: 10 Things I Love From My Mother’s Kitchen

(Image: Modern Reject)