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Oct 25, 2006 04:25 AM

The Role of Texture

How important is texture or mouthfeel to you when evaluating a dish?

I know taste is all important but liquified filet mignon - while maybe tasty - is just wrong.

From what I gather at a cultural standpoint, texture seems to be amore important factor among the asian cuisines than american. Thoughts? I could be totally wrong.

One dish for me which I take to be a great example of the role of texture in cuisine is Ma Po Tofu. The contrast between the silky smooth tofu, slightly firm meat and sauce is the primary reason why this is a favorite.
Any personal examples?

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  1. Texture and consistency are huuuge reasons why I don't eat certain foods. For example, I can't do cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. The weird lumps don't sit well with me. I'm also not a yogurt or pudding fan; the viscous consistency...ack.

    While I love mashed potatoes, I can't seem to get into refried beans. They have a similar gritty consistency, but for some reason I can't make myself like refried beans.

    Also can't bring myself to do bean sprouts. The size and smoothness remind me of worms...

    1. Texture is a major player in my eating career. I couldn't eat tomatoes until 3 years ago due to the texture of them (and still can't eat winter tomatoes, they are so mealy and bleah, gross). I also can't eat two things that are too moist/tender together. For example I cooked up some chicken thighs and had an artichoke heart dish on the side. I ate maybe 1/2 of what I would normally have eaten because both had such a similar consistancy. Mealy apples, while still may taste like apples, are thrown to squirrels due to texture.

      1. I'm Asian so perhaps that's why texture matters a great deal to me. I can't eat overcooked mushy vegetables, I want them to have some crunch or chew. I loathe mashed potatoes with a passion and always have.

        I like the emphasis on contrasting flavors and textures which permeates Asian cuisine - sweet and sour, hot and salty, smooth and crunchy, glutinous and chewy. I don't think this approach applies with Western foods which taste much more homogenous to me.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cheryl_h

          Am ready to kill my husband over this very topic. he's very acutely tuned into it and won't even try things that have a consistency he might not like. Am ready to kill him, won't eat my porcini risotto, mussels, olives, oysters, scallops and the list goes on and on. I'm ready to just toss this stuff into a blender and serve it to him as a shake! Me, I can eat anything - except head cheese - .

        2. I agree, texture goes hand in hand with appeal. For instance, I enjoy crunchy foods and often use a crunchy add in to smoother compositions. I love salty textures; even fine grains of salt. I crave a peppery texture adding black pepper to most foods even before tasting. Mouthfeel, hmm.

          Great question!

          1. As for comparing the importance of texture in relation to asian cuisine as opposed to american, I feel as though it plays an equally important role in both. All types of cuisine play on flavors and textures that are appealing together, that's what makes a dish. Now this becomes a gray area when you talk contemporary, as chefs like to push the boundaries. This is why you have a lot of foams,savory ice creams,and gels that normally would be unheard of. It's all a matter of sensations, the experience of eating something not just tasting it. Though each style interprets this differently, I wouldnt say one finds textures more important than the other. It's more a matter of opinion, where one person maybe disgusted by broccoli ice cream another might love it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: FAB

              Agree! At a more fundamental level, I feel that texture is going to be important in every cuisine -- for example, how tough or tender a piece of meat might be would often depend on how and to what extent it was cooked. Ditto for the quality of sauce -- smooth or grainy? How crisp is the skin of a suckling pig? Is th panna cotta to stiff from gelatin? How a particular ingredient is sliced would also be reflected in the final texture of the dish. At the end of the day, the texture of the foods we eat could be reflective to the quality of the technique in the kitchen.