texture vs creaminess

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Joined Jul 24, 2010
On shows like Top Chef, I often hear the tasters complaining that a dish doesn't have
texture. What does that mean, specifically? I have an idea of what "texture" would feel like in the mouth, yet I also hear so many shows describing their food as "creamy". My assumption is that
"creamy" is the opposite of "having texture"......but certainly they are describing a dish as
"creamy" in a GOOD way.

Do all dishes HAVE to have texture to be good?
Can you give me an example of something, say a sandwich, that has texture, versus a sandwich that does not?

(hope this makes sense to someone, LOL) /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
 
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Welcome to Chef Talk, hope you find it enjoyable.

I would say that creaminess is a texture.  Using a sandwich as an example, egg salad on soft white would be something along the lines of creamy.  To keep it from being TOO soft I would put diced celery and bell pepper in it for bits of crunch, some added texture.

A BLT would have different textures from the bacon slices, the lettuce and the softness of the tomato.  And a Chicago dog, an example inspired by another thread, would have the 'snap' of the dog if it is a good one, the crunch of the pickle spear and sport peppers and the softness of the steamed bun.

For some things you want consistent texture, for some you want a combination.  Some folks like ribs that are 'fall off the bone' tender, some folks like me find that too mushy of a texture and want some 'bite' to the meat.

Sometimes on my brats I like crisp, raw onion, sometimes I liked soft, grilled or poached onion.  All a matter of personal preference.  Back in the 50s my mother would make mac and cheese from scratch and sometimes it was smooth and creamy, sometimes grainy.  I preferred the smooth to the grainy.  It all boils down to what you like.

mjb.
 

phatch

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Many asian cuisines value texture in a dish.

Think of honey shrimp and walnuts, a dish I don't like but it's a good showcase for texture. You have tender shrimp contrasting with a crunchy nut with a unifying sweet glaze. Sure shrimp are good on their own but introducing some chew to the dish sparks interest with the contrast in textures.
 
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One thing to keep in mind is that people on shows like that often use linguistic shortcuts. Rather than saying something like, textural variation---which is what they most often mean (see, for instance, the examples given above), they just say "texture." Which can be, understandably, confusing.

"Texture" refers to the consistency of the dish or ingredient being discussed. So, to put a point on it, creaminess actually is a texture. But, used alone, it could be boring. So we vary that texture with another one, perhaps adding some "crunch," or some "grittyness," or some "tooth," etc.

Texture is indirectly related to flavor, because we often interpret taste based on the mouth feel. For instance, let's start by making a butternut & apple soup, with the main ingredients diced and cooked to the tender-crisp stage. Now take half of that soup and puree it. Try them side-by-side and they will taste different, even though the ingredients are exactly the same. Maybe you like the pureed soup, but find it a little cloying. So you add a textural break; possibly sprinkling it with roasted pumpkin seeds or crumbled bacon.

On the shows you've been watching, they'd say you used the pumpkin seeds or crumbled bacon to add texture. But what they really mean is that you gave your mouth a break from the uniform texturee of the puree.
 
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I always like some crunch in my savoury dishes (my kids stir the heck out of me for saying "it needs some crunch" ).  It's why we have teeth, see---> /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

Even something like icecream can benefit from crunch - like crushed nuts/praline etc, if you are in the mood.  If in doubt, leave it out.  Soup too, as KYH said, the contrast of smoothness of the basic soup then add your croutons or choice of crunch, makes it more interesting.
 
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A simple example for the the OP as requested.

As stated, all foods have texture...it is an element rather than a principle of design. So...

I like to use peanut butter in my salad sandwiches for myself. In its simplest form....bread, peanut butter, sliced onion (red or not), sliced tomato, lemon pepper, tobasco, bread. Obviously, textural contrast with raw onion providing the most 'crunch' but...

I prefer to use crunchy peanut butter which then provides the both the smoothest and roughest textures expanding the range of contrast one level using two other principles...dominance and repitition.

Try both the difference is will be only textural. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lookaround.gif
 
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That's exactly right, Indianwells. Contrast is the word. And it's what they mean when they use the verbal shorthand, "texture."
 
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