December 4, 2023

Our relationship with food has gone beyond the simple need to feed ourselves or the mere taste on the palate since ancient times. It has been the subject of brawls and wars, works of literature and melodramas, and governs the social and professional agenda at every moment of the day. Propellant of happy memories just by imagining a recipe from our childhood, the expression eat with the eyes has placed sight —after taste and smell, of course— as the great sense to be stimulated when we have a substantial dish in front of us. But it is not entirely true. And in social networks is the proof.

The viral phenomenon known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), in Spanish autonomous sensory meridian response, refers to that almost always pleasant sensory experience that the viewer lives after being exposed to a set of stimuli of a visual but above all auditory nature —such as a whisper into a microphone, blowing up a piece of paper bubbles, raindrops or caressing a sheet—, he has found in the task of cooking an infinite canvas of possibilities. On TikTok alone, an endless list of videos with the hashtag #asmrcooking has accumulated more than 26 billion views to date. Here are some examples (please unmute your device to check):

For the chocoholics

Chocolate fans will have to beware of the overstimulation that video clips generate on the account of Japanese confectioner Seijin, known on the social network as @chocolate_cacao, in front of more than a million viewers every day. no voice in off, The leading role in his recipes is that delicious crunch when breaking an ounce of dark chocolate, beating eggs with butter at full speed or the spongy sound caused by crumbling a donut to see how a creamy chocolate interior drips.

For the most carnivorous

If meat is your thing, on this social network you will find an inexhaustible source of recipes in which you can almost savor a good steak with your eyes closed. In this video by Menwiththepot, the account that makes hearty dishes with nature as a background with more than 159 million views, makes us dream of the perfect point of a ribeye in less than a minute through the roar of the oil when boiling on a frying pan in the middle of the forest, the little sound made by the smoking meat or the sound of the crispy potatoes rolling on the tray on the plate.

Veganism, also present

The vegan community does not escape its charm either. The influencers neoyorquina @heykarabae tells here how to create the perfect Caesar salad in veggie. Saliva reproduces in the mouth when one listens at full volume to the chopping of cucumber and onion, the mustard sauce soaking the nuts, the tofu cooking, or—the most sensory thing—when stirring all the ingredients that will go directly with a spoon. to palate

Simple Recipes Work Too

In most cases, a highly complex recipe is not required, quite the contrary. YouTube cooking channel Zach Choi ASMR wows his nearly 20 million subscribers with easy versions of Italian cookbooks, like spaghetti and meatballs or meat and cheese lasagna, alongside greasy servings of fast food and finger food. Bring to the fore the characteristic chup chup that the tomato sauce generates when moving it or how the cheese melts in slow motion are some of the skills of this content creator to keep the audience glued to his videos, of dubious nutritional quality but capable of generating infinite pleasure for viewers. senses.

What the Science of ASMR Says

Stimulations of this type, according to the psychotherapist Alicia Reinoso, can cause a tingling sensation in some people, which begins in the back of the neck and spreads through the rest of the body. “I emphasize some because it is estimated that only one in 1,000 are capable of experiencing this biological response, closely associated with pleasure and relaxation (although the responsible brain areas have not been established). The neurological bases are not clear and rather what science concludes is that it is a subjective experience, which has to do with other variables such as sensitivity, neuroticism or low levels of extraversion”. The sensory responses, explains the expert, will in turn depend on the person, which can go from nostalgia to a feeling of mild euphoria, even plunging us into such a state of relaxation that it helps to sleep.

And applied to the act of cooking, why does it generate so much pleasure to listen to acts as routine as cutting vegetables or frying an egg? “One of the reasons would be the ability to get thoughts and worries out of our minds. In other words, it seems to work because it induces a meditative state”, points out Reinoso. As in all kinds of sensory experiences, ASMR involves an interaction with our own personality patterns that can lead to both positive and harmful consequences. “If any activity, practice or stimulus helps to induce states of meditation or relaxation, it is welcome, but paying attention to the here and now, beyond fashion, I think is crucial. Not losing contact with others in reality, beyond the screens, and with oneself and what one is doing at all times”, he affirms. As with everything, the key is to make good use of this route of escapism, without giving it more relevance: “What can be dangerous is substituting ASRM for treatments or therapies, or attributing miraculous and supernatural power to it, generating disproportionate expectations or Of course, an abuse of the consumption of this kind of videos.

For Pedro Aguilar de Dios, a 30-year-old public relations and lover of cooking, the pleasure that this type of video generates goes beyond the sensory aspect of listening to a boiling broth, slow-motion cutting of a fresh leek or a chive sprig. “More than that, I enjoy giving something everyday (the kitchen) such a specific space in which it is the absolute protagonist. In the film Julie & Julia, the blogger Julie Powell says a phrase while replicating Julia Child’s recipes with which I feel very identified: ‘Do you know what I love about cooking? That after a day when nothing is certain, and when I say nothing I mean nothing, you can come home and know for sure that if you add egg yolks to chocolate, sugar and milk it will thicken. That comforts me.’ It’s the same for me. It comforts me to see those clips of things that you know always work. That they sound good, they relax you and they do not go beyond your relationship with a good pot and good crockery, ”she reflects.

Instagram is, without a doubt, the queen of social networks in this matter. An infinite number of possibilities can be found on your grill; of the cuteness profiles like that of @orbitmuks are promulgated from Asia, with almost toy sweets cooked in a delicate and leisurely way, to a proposal that is much more like walking around the house and without recipes as precious as Emily Mariko’s. This influencers Americana teaches how to easily prepare a teriyaki salmon or a banana pudding in a tracksuit and without designer tableware, only with the sound of each step at full volume. This garnish-free formula works: 1.3 million followers stay loyal to her ASMR content every day. Pedro Aguilar adds the account @cocinaconcoqui, with recipes from here and Asia such as pickles, onigiris or the delicate Japanese rice balls. Currently close to half a million followers. “I don’t really like what he does,” he confesses, “but the timbre of his voice, his little hands, and the softness with which everything he does sounds relaxes me enormously.”

ASMR cooking, also a profitable business

As in everything that happens on social networks, content creators have been able to see in the ASMR kitchen a profitable business path. This is the case of Alina Prokuda, 29, the Instagram star of Ukrainian descent living in Los Angeles (California) who dazzles with her meticulously detailed videos. Each of her audiovisual pieces entails an average of eight hours of work, between production, realization and final editing. The passion that unleashes her new profession, she confesses, makes her often lose track of time. “Sometimes they give me three in the morning editing without realizing it. Each video involves a lot of effort, but now it has become my full-time job, something that I am passionate about, ”she explains to El PAÍS.

The rhythmic invoice of his videos orchestrated to the millimeter requires not only time and imagination, but also a great team behind it. “I started making my videos with an iPhone, a simple ring light, a tripod, a microphone purchased from Amazon, and backgrounds. Now I have professional equipment and studio lighting. Over time I have created a huge shelf in the garage full of plates, glasses, decorative objects… ”, she lists. In each video he applies the same methodology. First, it starts from an idea taken from a recipe that he has tried in a restaurant, that is fashionable on social networks or from his childhood, such as the Ukrainian beetroot soup Borscht inscribed last July on the Unesco list of intangible cultural heritage. .

After cooking and perfecting the recipe, Prokuda spends time imagining which parts of the cooking are most exciting to see and hear. “I write shot by shot the steps that I imagine in my head, how I want them to look and even what part of the day I want to show. If it is an idea for breakfast, I like that there is natural daylight, and that the sound of the birds immerses you in the best atmosphere”. After buying all the ingredients, he begins the recording, which ranges from a technical part such as setting up the lighting to choosing the wardrobe or putting on makeup. “And then I spend hours and hours in the kitchen. Finally, I edit the video and write the recipe, which means between two and four more hours of work”.

In short, a common day in the life of any worker to generate video capsules of less than a minute, but which garner thousands of views as soon as they upload it to their Instagram account. The same one in which he often advertises products and which currently has its own sales channel on Amazon, with all kinds of utensils to emulate his work, from kitchenware to spice jars or photographic equipment. The secret of his success and of this type of video, he confesses, is to call for sensitivity and enjoy cooking: “In our daily rhythm of life we ​​cook less and less at home, and this is what we lack. ASMR videos increase the immersive experience and affect not only the visual part, but also the auditory one. It would only be necessary for people to also be able to smell through the screens”.

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