Erich Berghammer, also known as Odo7 [homepage, myspace] is an aroma jockey or AJ for short. He blows scents over his audience with huge fans and has stocked up a pantry with exotic spices, roots, leafs, oils, extracts and herbs. The smells are vaporized using hot water. This video from Roskilde gives you an idea of the set up (but no smells unfortunately).
From what I can see from his webpage Odo7 has been AJ’ing at clubs, parties, concerts, fashion shows, movie theaters and product presentations. But why hasn’t Odo7 been invited to a restaurant yet? Considering the fact that taste (as used in everyday terms) is 20% taste and 80% smell I could imagine some very interesting eating experiences with an AJ present. Think of it as a way of adding aroma to your food!
I wonder what smells you would use with the different dishes? Perhaps recreate the smell of sea for the starters (seafood). Then the smell of pine, moss and wood for the main dish (wild boar, elk or reindeer) and finish up with orange blossom for the dessert (strawberries).
The two last pairings are based on something I recall from the last International workshop on molecular gastronomy in Erice in 2004. Hervé This mentioned that strawberries combined with orange blossom extract, lemon and sugar are reminiscent of wild strawberries! At the same meeting Jack Lang suggested that branches of pine or juniper be placed around the rim of a large serving plate in front of each person. To speed up aroma extraction and vaporization one would pour hot water over the branches and then serve the food (dark meat/wild game) on a smaller plate placed between the branches. This brings us right back to the flavour pairing principle discussed earlier. But now – instead of combining two foods – we can combine a food ingredient or a dish with the appropriate aromas.
Perhaps at a restaurant experience in the not to distant future you could expect not only a waiter and a sommelier to come to your table, but also an aroma jockey!
I should also mention that the idea of using essential oils in cooking explored in great detail in the book “Aroma: The Magic of Essential Oils in Foods and Fragrance”. I justed received a copy and haven’t had much time to look at it. The fact that recipes for food and bath foam can be found on the same page might be disturbing for some, but I like the whole concept – simply because it takes the science of taste, eh.. aroma, seriously!