The Five Textures
Ever open the refrigerator door and just stand there staring, wondering what you want to eat, hoping that the food you’re seeking will just magically appear? Chances are that most times we are not only seeking a particular food, but seeking a specific texture.
According to the Father of Gestalt Psychology, Fritz Perls, the very act of chewing difficult textures can help to our temper anger and is considered a natural part of our personal growth process.
Textures enhance a sense of variety in our nourishment by impacting the look and taste of food, as well as the way it feels in your mouth. A good chef knows that the main textures of crispiness, creaminess and chewiness are just as important as food flavor. Varied textures are common to almost all culinary styles.
The science of food structure has its own “-ology”— Food Rheology. But texture is often considered secondary to taste and fragrance. Some research has found that food textural awareness was often subconscious.
The three most relished textures are crispy, creamy and chewy. Thorough chewing allows food to not only taste better, but a growing body of research indicates that the simple act of prolonged chewing actually increases blood flow to the brain.
Some research has shown that a healthy chewing habit can stave off dementia. In another large 2012 Swedish study, senior citizens who could chew hard foods, such as apples or biscuits, were shown to have a considerably lower risk of failing mental faculties.
When most people praise a meal, they usually focus on the flavors, as if it weren’t quite polite to mention how satisfying it actually feels in your mouth. Many accomplished chefs will agree that after seasoning, texture is one of the most important elements of our cooking.
The five most common textures are:
Crunchy (crackers, chips and most roasted foods)
Creamy (purees, pudding)
Chewy (bread, grains, etc.)
Awareness of food textures in cooking can make certain dishes more unique, tasty and memorable. If you don’t think textures are important, think about eating watery oatmeal and soup together. Sound appealing? Hardly. The textures are just too similar with no real contrast. However, add some berries, chopped nuts or granola, and suddenly it becomes more appealing. Contrast in texture is what creates a satisfying sense of meal content variety.
Here are some traditional examples of common textures that are compatible with specific dishes:
Soup and Bread/Crackers
Dry, Crisp Noodles and Chop Suey (Chinese vegetable/noodle dish)
Croutons & Salad
Pasta & Toasted Garlic Bread
Ice Cream with Nuts
Chips & Salsa
Yogurt & Granola
Your cravings for certain foods may very well be a textural one. Knowing the different textures will allow you to make more satisfying food choices that nourish and sustain.