Friday, August 17, 2007

Let's get baked! (2)

Operation Baked Goods 5

Recall the test items. Directly above and below, the magdalena, filled with apricot jam.

Operation Baked Goods 6

Operation Baked Goods 8

And, directly above and below, the bizcocho, fresh from those good folks at the Panadería of "El Arból"

Operation Baked Goods 9

Updated Materials and Methods:

Before getting to the exciting conclusion, I should explain that an impromptu decision was made today to quadruple the size of the study, enlisting the aid of 3 further test subjects to participate in the experiment. To protect the anonymity of the participants, let's just say that one was French, one was Spanish, and the third additional taster was from Crete. Thus, results below represent the view of a multinational research team, including 3 men and 1 woman.

Tasting was again conducted in a manner which balanced across tasting sequences (MB and BM), with each sequence being represented twice in the testing. Informed consent of the subjects was obtained orally, rather than in written form, a possible minor breach of the Helsinki protocols governing human experimentation. Subjects were, however, given adequate warning of potential risks of participation, and adequate fluid supplies were on hand at all times. Testing was conducted in a local Don Quijote classroom, in direct violation of school rules forbidding eating in class, but with the willing collusion and implicit approval of the teacher-participant present throughout the experiment.

Each item was scored, using an integer scale from 1 (inedible) to 5 (food of the gods), on each of the following four dimensions:

  • Sabór (flavor)
  • Textura (texture)
  • "Mouthfeel" (mouthfeel)
  • "Abuela" (rating relative to your grandmother's baked goods)

As both items received identical scores on the dimension "abuela", this has been omitted from the final scores reported below, due to its lack of discriminatory power (though see the "Discussion of results" section below).

Results: (total scores across all 4 testers)

Magdalenas relladas: flavor - 12; texture - 12; mouthfeel - 8. Total = 32
Bizcocho: flavor - 12; texture - 11; mouthfeel - 13. Total = 36

Discussion of results:

With bizcocho appearing as the clear winner, it might seem that congratulations are in order for the good bakers at the Panadería of "El Arból". However, two caveats must be mentioned, which make their victory something less than a complete triumph.

  1. Uniformly, all tasters gave both items a rating of 1 on the "abuela" dimension. Thus, the relative merits of the bizcocho need to viewed in the context of its complete lack of palatability when measure in terms of home-made deliciousness.
  2. From the second bizcocho picture shown above, it can be seen that the item in question comes packaged with a little strip of paper at the bottom. It needs to be mentioned that during the experiment, one of the tasters (me) initially neglected to remove the paper in question, resulting in the inadvertent mastication of same. Upon noticing the error, and removing the paper, there was no discernible difference in the overall tasting experience.

This second observation places the overall taste-test in its appropriate context. Which is to say that, even in the case of these high-end Spanish baked goods, you are unlikely to notice much difference between eating the products in question and chowing down on a nice ream of paper.

Unfortunately, that is where we shall have to leave things for this evening. Your faithful correspondent has a date with "Dificultades del español para hablantes de inglés", a book every bit as riveting as the title suggests:

fun for the whole family


O'Donovan said...

My, how I enjoy the amusing diversions you present on this blog.

The correspondent from North Carolina, where our baked goods are all superb and rate highly on the abuela scale.

bilby said...

I don't eat textbooks. Not today.