Proposal by: Maria Jimena Ricatti

Post-pandemic tasting experience

Project Proposal: Exploring sensory diversity and holistic wellbeing

As a result of COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people experienced some degree of smell or taste impairment in the short and long term. However, there are also people who deal with these kinds of experiences as a consequence of ageing or because their brain is wired in a unique way, such as in the case of those with autism spectrum disorder. In all these situations, the pleasure of eating could be at risk. Therefore, several problems driven by unhealthy eating behaviors can be triggered. In addition, this can be even detrimental for several micro and macro ecosystems. Is it possible to rewire the pleasure of eating in a healthy and sustainable way? This project offers the opportunity to explore food pleasure through fermented ingredients and their sensory attributes as tools for holistic wellbeing.


A bubbly carbonation - credits: Maria Jimena Ricatti Maria Jimena Ricatti

Project Description

In general, people have no sensory or food education at all over the course of life.
Sensory perception knowledge is usually limited to specific scientific niches and, of course, the food industry.
On the other hand, consumers are sensory-standardised, as if all human beings have the same food preferences or sensory capabilities, shaped by an overwhelming variety of unhealthy and unsustainable options.

The goal of this project is to change this standardisation model of perception and to invite people to discover more personalised sensory pathways.

This project also represents a reflection of my journey.
Not long ago, talking about fermented food was like entering a field of rotten ingredients and food waste. Nowadays, fermentation is a method not just for flavour improvement but also holds the potential to become a sustainable therapeutic approach for sensory and holistic wellbeing.

Because of COVID-19 pandemic, I have treated patients with smell and taste disorder by sensory training, but also using neuro-gastronomy to rebuild the pleasure of eating.
During this journey I realised that gastronomy, in particular the food fermentation process is a powerful tool to train the senses, to create sensory-personalised stimuli that can be more inclusive in terms of neurodiversity and ageing, and to take advantage of all the health benefits of improving the gut microbiota diversity.
Moreover, fermentation also involves learning about the role of micro-ecosystems, biodiversity, and its relevance for environmental balance at all scales.

Post-pandemic Tasting Experience

The main concept is to guide the five senses throughout this gastronomic experience to decode the way food is perceived and rediscover the pleasure of eating.

During this food tasting experience we will explore and build new personalised pathways to enjoy the act of eating by trying combinations of flavour and tactile boosters (all plant-based). At the same time, the gut microbiota will be revitalised since most of these boosters are ingredients fermented by myself.

In addition, sensory designed audio and video may also be present to create a more immersive experience, like close-up food landscapes paired with sonic inputs. This allows you to connect with food through a multisensory approach and to experience the act of eating from a new place.

BONUS: this tasting experience could also be paired with some locally harvested/foraged plants and wild edibles from Mediamatic garden and surroundings areas.

Duration of the experience: up to 90 minutes 
Food tasting: up to 10 plant-based appetisers per diner

Possible ways to expand the project

If I could think bigger, I would like to team up with open-minded chefs from diverse food cultures to expand this project in order to create unique eating experiences applying the same concept of this project.

This synergy would make it possible to convey the concept of sustainability in a different way, where food is in itself a multisensory way of communication.

Moreover, it could also be interesting to implement technologies like video mapping, virtual or augmented reality and olfactory inputs to create more immersive experiences to nudge the senses towards nature and to embrace sustainability.

Personal Introduction

I am a Medical Doctor and Neuroscientist living in Italy and pursuing an ideal future: to connect people with nature through a deep exploration of human senses by showing how to use them to make more sustainable choices.

After many years teaching at the School of Medicine in Argentina and working as a researcher around the world, I decided to take advantage of this knowledge to solve problems that affect human well-being and the current state of our planet.

The way in which our brain perceives the surroundings is shaped by the five senses. By understanding sensorial pathways, it is possible to nudge the senses to improve our relationship with the environment, to help people to enjoy food or to find a more conscious eating approach.

This is the core of my project sensorytrip: to explore neuronal plasticity for a better future.

Sensorytrip Website
Sensorytrip Instagram
Sensorytrip YouTube Channel
My LinkedIn Profile

Time and Estimated costs

In order to prepare the fermented ingredients (in Italy) it will be necessary to start 1 month before the date of the Post-pandemic Tasting Experience.
This period of time also includes the time required to design and set up the event (tableware, utensils, location, etc).

Hereafter, the estimated budget considering a single event.
This project could be extended to 1 event every 3-6 months to also explore ingredients seasonality.

-Round trip flight expenses between Venice-Amsterdam Schiphol plus check-in luggage (1 small suitcase for event supplies and ingredients transportation).
350€ maximum budget (price depends on flight date)

-2 nights hotel accommodation near Amsterdam Central Station/Mediamatic
450€ maximum budget (price depends on dates)

-Raw ingredients + hermetic containers for transportation
(considering 25-50 participants tasting experience)
250€ maximum budget

-Compostable tableware and utensil (if are not provided by Mediamatic)
100€ maximum budget

-My professional fee for tasting experience design, ingredients preparation and guided presentation
650€ (tax incl.)

TOTAL cost per event: 1800€


This proposal is part of the 'Penny for your Thoughts' project 2022.