Monday, June 19, 2017

The importance of mouthfeel

The other day my daughter was making scrambled eggs and asked me did I want mine hard or soft. I reacted immediately, "No egg slime."

Sure, food is sweet, salty, bitter, or salty and the fifth--umami--but mouthfeel is often overlooked.

Ole Mouritsen is a food scientist and author of Mouthfeel: How Texture Makes Taste. He was interviewed by Russ Parsons.

What is mouthfeel? We also call it texture, Mouritsen said. Technically it is on the tongue, but taste is also in the nose, ears or eyes. (Think of something that should be crisp, but is soggy. You will notice.)

The Japanese have 400 ways to describe food texture--we have 80.

Say fish--not much taste by itself--so mouthfeel is important. (I have heard certain fish--swordfish is one-- described as meaty as a steak.) The Japanese "pickle" vegetables--they may seem rubbery, but when you bite down, they have a crunching feeling all over your skull.

Seaweed is another one. The Japanese eat a lot of it. Chewy, slimy, crunchy, soft, or hard--depending.

Food scientists do a test where they puree foods--only about half of the participants can identify cabbage or tomatoes by taste alone--when it's a puree.

If you have to chew, say a piece of tomato in ketchup, it may "taste" different.

Mayonnaise--another example--has small gobbets of fat so it tastes creamy--large globules will "taste" oily.

All this is called neurogastronomy...And you thought you were just getting a snack--your whole body is involved.


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