Beyond Flavor: Texture, Mouthfeel, Crunch, Creaminess, and More

Texture is as vital to the experience of food as flavor. All foods have texture, says ipsedixit, even foam. "There are no good or bad textures, IMO," says ipsedixit; it's just a matter of "whether the texture is appropriate for the dish served." Food can be crunchy, grainy, lumpy, smooth, or stringy, and the feel of the food contributes to the experience as much as the taste.

A closely related concept is mouthfeel, says bushwickgirl. "Mouthfeel is a very close cousin to texture, being a term used to describe the physical and chemical reactions noted in the mouth when eating, and is a concept used in winetasting and food rheology, the study of the alteration and flow characteristics of matter in terms of viscosity and friction (too geeky for me)," says bushwickgirl. "The difference between texture and mouthfeel is compositional quality of the food product as perceived by the mouth, and the physical sensation the food imparts as perceived by the mouth."

When food is criticized as "lacking texture," it's not that it has no texture—it's that it lacks textural contrast, says Jen76. "In a sandwich, I can imagine a nice chewy artisan bread would play off the texture of the crisp veggies and the juiciness of the meats and the creaminess of the cheese," says Jen76. "Unlike, say, a Subway sandwich where the bread is squishy, the meat is squishy, the cheese is floppy, and the veggies sort of even lack crunch, thus the sandwich lacks the interplay of various textures. It becomes 'one note.'"

Discuss: texture vs creaminess

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