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Food Texture Basics

For some reason, analysis & discussion on food texture isn't as popular in mainstream food media as smell & flavor. When @CookingwithJulie suggested I post about textures, I realized I didn't even know where to start. As a result, I became obsessed with learning about why & how we experience food texture, and it is *fascinating*. Did you know the field of research dedicated to food texture is called food rheology (and our own perceptions of food rheology, psychorheology)? Reading up on the science of texture has greatly improved my own ability to dissect & explain the textural attributes I sense in food. Since most of the literature is by/for food scientists, I'm sharing a guide I put together from a chef PoV that I've been using to better achieve what I want in my own cooking.

I hope you’ll find this guide useful in categorizing your own ideas of food texture. This is by no means comprehensive, nor are my food placements universal, so I am happy to discuss your different interpretations of texture in the comments!

I’ve also posted some articles on this topic on my Instagram. Some quotes below (the last being my favorite):

“The perception of food texture arises from the interaction of a food with mechanoreceptors in the mouth. It depends on neural impulses carried by multiple nerves. [It is] a key driver of the acceptance or rejection of foods.” (Science Daily)

“ also essential in identifying [food]. When researchers pureed and strained foods, young adults...were only able to identify 40.7% of them. Flavour alone is not enough.” (The Guardian)

“[The Japanese have] 406 terms for texture, compared to the paltry 78 offered by American English.” (Japan Times)

“Food sensory researchers break [down] chewing preferences into four categories. Chewers prefer foods that can be chewed for a long time, like gummy candy. Crunchers prefer foods that respond with a resounding crunch, like potato chips. Suckers prefer foods, like hard candy, that dissolve slowly over time. And smooshers, the laziest of all eaters, prefer soft creamy foods that spread across the mouth with minimal effort—like puddings.” (Popular Science) — I am proud to say that I AM A SMOOSHER!

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