Dictionary of Taste Texture

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spork

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A collective DC compilation to try and define taste textures.

What is "crunchy?" A potato chip, a radish, surely the two are very different textures, yet we often use the same term. It would help our cooking discussions, and kitchen endeavors, to have a more common reference. How does it differ from "crispy?" What does "mushy" mean, or "grainy?"

Suggested format: adjective - description - example.

I'll try to start with an entry at the back of our alphabet...





"watery"
liquid with few suspended large particles, it just flows down your throat
e.g. of course, water, but also consomme





P.S. I'm contemplating a post for "chewy" but I'm not yet certain how distinctively different a ball of bubble yum gum is from a slice of boiled octopus, in a dictionary term of textures. I think maybe our sense of taste texture can be "mapped," that there are parameters and ranges.
 

Barbara L

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A collective DC compilation to try and define taste textures.

What is "crunchy?" A potato chip, a radish, surely the two are very different textures, yet we often use the same term. It would help our cooking discussions, and kitchen endeavors, to have a more common reference. How does it differ from "crispy?" What does "mushy" mean, or "grainy?"

Suggested format: adjective - description - example.

I'll try to start with an entry at the back of our alphabet...





"watery"
liquid with few suspended large particles, it just flows down your throat
e.g. of course, water, but also consomme





P.S. I'm contemplating a post for "chewy" but I'm not yet certain how distinctively different a ball of bubble yum gum is from a slice of boiled octopus, in a dictionary term of textures. I think maybe our sense of taste texture can be "mapped," that there are parameters and ranges.
When I think of crunchy I think more in terms of grinding it with my molars. When I think of crispy I think of the "snap" you hear when you break it (like celery, firm carrots, potato chips).

:)Barbara
 

Andy M.

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Spork, I think this could certainly generate a lot of discussion.

To me, "watery" would be used to describe a dish that's mostly solid but has too much water in it. If something is watery, you would reduce it to make it less watery. e.g. a tomato sauce for pasta is too watery.

How about "liquid" to describe water or consummé?

Just my take on it.
 

Barbara L

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Spork, I think this could certainly generate a lot of discussion.

To me, "watery" would be used to describe a dish that's mostly solid but has too much water in it. If something is watery, you would reduce it to make it less watery. e.g. a tomato sauce for pasta is too watery.

How about "liquid" to describe water or consummé?

Just my take on it.
I agree. The term "watery" has more negative connotations for me--something that should not be so liquid.

:)Barbara
 

spork

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and so I ask of another texture, what is "creamy?" again, not so much for taste, but its texture. I think it has to do with fat.

hopefully, someone can suggest a, description and example, just one step up from the clumsy word "mushy"
 
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Andy M.

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A creamy liquid is more viscose than a water-like liquid. Further, it would have a different mouth feel from fat or other thickeners.
 

spork

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"gummy"
unyielding flesh that won't break down without a lot of chewing
e.g. calamari

Again, I love squid, I'm just trying to wrap my stomach around a taxonomy of texture.
 

buckytom

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spork, i'd have to guess you've never had really good calamari. an italian place near me makes the most tender calamari in the world. they just dunk the peeled rings in rolling boiling water for 45 seconds (exactly) before shocking in ice for 30 seconds, and then toss with a dressing of minced red onion, minced raw garlic, minced celery, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and evoo. man, it's good. not chewy at all.

the second most tender is a thai place that does whole baby squid on skewers over an incredibly hot grill. grilled for less than a minute per side, just enough to get marks. it's served with fresh cilantro and mae ploy chili sauce over lettuce. another yummo.




ok, getting back to descriptive food words: i like "mouthfeel" - the sense that the food has somewhat more body than what it's being compared to.

or "mucilaginous" - slimy, mucus-like.

or "unctuous" - oily, greasy.
 

Zhizara

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I have had great calamari until the last time I ordered it.

It was overcooked and was like chewing rubber bands. I sent it back, something I never do, but it was such as shame because I knew it could and should have been good.

It turned me off.
 

spork

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I've caught my own squid with a fishing rod, gutted it, and tossed it for a few minutes in a campfire. So, yes, that one may not have been fair. Calamari can be very tender... i'm trying to find the right texture word for a great calamari... but, I'm also a fan of street carts that toast whole dried squid over a flame, a jerky.

"leathery"
chewing it makes your jaws ache
jerky
 

snickerdoodle

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Great idea for a thread. I watch a lot of Iron Chef and find myself relying on the food critics to describe to me how it is... sometimes they are good at it but other times I just want to slap the next person that says "It has a beautiful flavor."

I wanted to give "robust" a shot...

Robust - bold flavor, usually savory (not sweet) - raw onion

Any other input on "robust"?
 

buckytom

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i've had robust wines that were nothing like onions. :chef:

man, this english adjective thing is a beetch.
 

spork

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syrupy: very viscose liquid, that's mostly absent of large suspended particles such as fat or starch; it thins and liquifies in the mouth, either because of body heat or the addition of saliva. Examples are maple syrup, of course, but I also include even thicker honey (off hand, I can't think of a savory example).

What is a "gelatin, or gelatinous" texture? Jello, or a pad of cold butter?
 

Zhizara

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syrupy: very viscose liquid, that's mostly absent of large suspended particles such as fat or starch; it thins and liquifies in the mouth, either because of body heat or the addition of saliva. Examples are maple syrup, of course, but I also include even thicker honey (off hand, I can't think of a savory example).

What is a "gelatin, or gelatinous" texture? Jello, or a pad of cold butter?

I'd say Jello, of course, and aspic, but not cold butter.

Cold butter is firm, I guess.:ermm:
 

snickerdoodle

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i've had robust wines that were nothing like onions. :chef:

man, this english adjective thing is a beetch.

Yeah it sure is. It's odd that we can use a word appropriately in context but yet have a hell of a time actually defining it. The dictionary describes robust as rich and full-bodied, using coffee as an example, which is perfect. I guess that's good. Maybe onion has more of a sharp flavor.
 

spork

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"mucilaginous" - slimy, mucus-like.
It's an interesting texture. Majority of people who encounter it are immediately repulsed. Humans have an ancient instinct that associates it with spoilage. But I kinda like it.

There's a Japanese yam, available in Asian markets, called yama-imo, that translates "mountain potato." When boiled like a potato, it tastes a lot like a potato, while retaining a hint of the crispness of a raw potato. But when grated raw... it magically develops the slimy, slippery, consistency and texture of (please excuse me) thick spit. Its taste is somewhat neutral, sort of like a raw potato.

"mucilaginous" is also represented by okra. I also think asparagus has just a little bit of this curious texture. I like both vegetables, too.
 

buckytom

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snicker, sharp is good for onions. unless they're cooked to become sweet. but not sugary sweet. oh geez. :mrgreen:

spork, i always think of mucillaginous as the coating around tomato seeds.

i've seen yama in asian markets here. i always thought it was just bad engrish spelling for a normal yam, lol. i'll have to check them out. thanks. :chef:
 
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