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Why Does Food Taste Better Outside?

BBQ season is upon us – burgers, buns and beautifully chilled beers will be finding their way to a garden near you any day now, but why does our nation fantasize over the BBQ season year on year? Could there be a science behind why our food tastes better outside, or is the scent of grass mixing with burger grease the ultimate combination to set our appetites going? In this article, we’ll look at some of the best theories behind why people love to dine outdoors.

Group Of Friends Having Outdoor Barbeque At Home


Eating outside is often associated with an occasion, whether that’s a family BBQ during the warmer months, a picnic in the park or fish and chips by the sea. When we eat outdoors, its usually defined as a special occasion and so we perceive our food with greater excitement.

The memories that are tied to our outdoor dining experiences shape our opinions and expectations of future outdoor eating experiences too. For example, on most occasions, you will probably be meeting friends or family to share your outdoor meal with. Even on those occasions where you are eating alone, you might spend that time reminiscing on past experiences spent with loved ones.

Close up grill with colorful barbecue on grill in campground


It’s becoming quite well known that being amongst natural elements can improve one’s mood and mental health. Biophilia is the theory that humans have an innate affinity for nature, and that human productivity and creativity surges when surrounded by plants. Fresh air is even more important as buildings with poor ventilation can result in a build-up of carbon dioxide, causing tiredness and stress.

This means that when you eat outside, your body is benefitting from the fresh clean air. The NHS recently published an article that stated that more than 10% of children haven’t been in a park, forest, or other natural environments in the last twelve months. This means that children aren’t spending as much time outside, and perhaps those occasions where they do venture out into the wilderness are for group BBQs or similarly food-related events.

This links back to the idea that perhaps our desire to take our dinner outside in the warm weather is linked to nostalgic values. If, as children, going outside is a rare occurrence often accompanied by food, there is a strong chance that we will learn to idealise the concept later in life as a sign of times gone by.

On the other hand, there could be something very important about access to fresh air and the ability to taste. Dry, poorly circulated air can cause nasal congestion, and a big part of tasting is the ability to smell. If eating outdoors reduces congestion, then perhaps we would be able to enjoy our food more with our improved sense of smell. On the other hand, this theory would work in reverse for those who suffer from allergies that affect them most outdoors.

Vegetarian barbecue with tomato, eggplant, grilled on grill

To Conclude

No-one is really sure why food tastes better outside, perhaps the salt air by the sea really does flavour your fish and chips, or perhaps the taste of bonfire smoke is exactly what you need to bring out the underlying flavours in your black peas. Whatever the reason is, plenty of people in Britain will be testing their BBQ patio gas to see if food really does taste better outside when summer returns for 2019.