There is a wonderful essay about food in the 24.08 issue of Wired. And yes, for me, it applies to short stories. David Chang has hit on an idea for the base pattern of the tastiness of food, across cultures, across recipes. A continuous loop that is pleasing at a subliminal level for human beings, " a set of base patterns that people inherently respond to." I think this type of pattern works in literature as well.
This statement of his reminds me of Charles Baxter's "Lush Life" essay. "When you hit a strange loop like this, it shifts your point of view: Suddenly you aren't just thinking about what's happening inside the picture; you're thinking about the system it represents and your response to it."
"When you eat something amazing, you don't just respond to the dish in front of you; you are almost always transported back to another moment in your life." Isn't this what we try to do in short stories? Writers try to evoke something, anything, in the reader, that connects them. And, often it is something insignificant and small that brings on a rush of emotions for the reader, but in this way the reader becomes part of the story and essentially completes the story. And, that why good stories with a poetic aspect are never completely consumed, the story is not static, nor is the reader.
I'm also reminded of the idea of the way physicists look at waves and particles. The looking creates it as either a wave or a particle. Your looking, or tasting, something makes it what you're seeking. Chang gives an example of saltiness. "When a dish is perfectly seasoned, it will taste simultaneously like it has too much salt and too little salt. It is fully committed to being both at the same time." Furthermore, "You'll think that it's too bland, but as soon as you form that thought, you'll suddenly find it tastes too salty."