Why listening to Taylor Swift will improve your Chinese takeout experience

No joke, scientists have proven that listening to Swift’s “Blank” will make that chicken kung pao taste so much better.

An Oxford researcher went through the trouble of testing to see how music affects the taste of food, and guess what! Certain genres of music will make your food taste different. We’ve got the scoop on what bands and artists will make your spaghetti and sushi taste better, and it’s really wierd.

Want to find out what we should be listening to while eating Indian food? Springsteen, Queen, Guns N’ Roses or Arctic Monkeys. How about pasta? Pavarotti, Vivaldi or Profkiev. And sushi? Don’t even say Japanese music. Not even close: Nina Simone and Frank Sinatra are the proper aural pairings.

Is that crazy? Why? What’s the connection?

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It makes sense that Chinese takeout and Taylor Swift are a match made in heaven. Like, orange chicken is fun and everything, but it’s not exactly good for you — kind of sweet and gloppy. And yet, even though that’s not what most people usually go for, for some reason everyone loses their minds over orange chicken. It’s just like how people react to Taylor Swift. Even my devoted indie music hipster friends dig her latest album. It’s studio pop — it doesn’t intellectually challenge the listener in any way when you listen — and yet it’s totally irresistible.

Italian and classical music are no-brainers too. People love acting all hoity-toity when they eat Italian food. Just ask a group of diners in an Italian restaurant to say “mozzarella,” and watch the fancy faux-Italian accents emerge. That’s why it totally makes sense that listening to opera and classical music make the experience of eating pasta feel more elegant. Eat a bowl of spaghetti while listening to Rick Springfield, and you’re just carb-loading; switch to Pavarotti, and suddenly you’re classy as hell. It’s already a food we associate with sensuality and finesse, so when the music matches that, suddenly the experience is all the richer.

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Jazz apparently enhances the experience of eating sushi. Actually, jazz and sushi have a lot in common — they challenge our perceptions of what is normal. Jazz has an unconventional time signature, random notes here and there and lots of personality. For people who aren’t familiar with jazz, it can be jarring. It can seem like it’s not even music. The same can be said for sushi. It’s different from the cuisine a lot of people in the U.S. are used to: It uses unusual, flavor-packed ingredients like dried seaweed, wasabi and pickled ginger that are in contrast to the often smooth and mild fish and rice, and each sushi chef imparts their personality into the sushi they serve. And if you haven’t had sushi before, it’s kind of easy to be like, “This… isn’t food.” But once you come to understand how all the parts work together, the different flavors and textures contributing to create a harmonious dining experience, other food just seems kind of unsophisticated. Put sushi and jazz together, and baby, you’re in business.

Last but not least, spicy foods get a musical pairing of their own too. It turns out rock and roll can actually make spicy foods taste spicier. Researchers said that since rock music alerts and arouses the senses, it makes us more aware of the spice we’re eating, and we appreciate it more. So next time you dig into your favorite spicy dish, don’t forget to blast some Nirvana first so you can get the full flavor experience.

And this is just conjecture, but I can say with some authority that hot chocolate paired with Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas” is pretty much a match made in heaven.

Knowing that music affects how our food tastes could totally change how we eat our meals. You can use this newfound knowledge to wow the guests at your next party, who will never guess that the reason your carbonara tastes so good is that you’re playing Vivaldi in the background. And if you feel depressed because you ordered Chinese takeout for, like, the seventh time this month instead of cooking something healthy, just put on some T. Swift, and let the music (and suddenly amazing food) take you away.

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