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“Texture” is one of the most underlooked values in not only ceiling and floor decisions, but in foods as well. When you decide what you want to eat, you usually ask yourself if the food is sweet, salty, or expensive. Will the food hurt your toilet after, is it produced by a chain that donates to organizations you don’t support, you know, the typical criteria. The texture of food is a factor that a lot of people don’t think about until they get into it. As I was writing this piece, I could barely find any opinion or research articles about how we experience the textures of foods. Though it is hard to determine the texture of new foods, it’s very important to think about the texture of the foods we are familiar with.
We experience texture through our trigeminal nerve. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the “trigeminal nerve is part of the nervous system responsible for sending pain, touch and temperature sensations from your face to your brain…[With] one section called the mandibular nerve involves motor function to help you chew and swallow.2” Essentially, the mouth gets the food, and signals are perceived by somatic sensory receptors from the trigeminal nerve (along with other cranial nerves to somatosensory cortices (the brain’s outermost layer of nerve cells)1.
Texture is so important because it’s part of one’s expectations when eating. That’s also a reason why people don’t think about it when choosing foods to eat. They expect certain foods and beverages to feel a certain way, yet can be thrown off, for better or worse. Dr. Justin Lieber’s research shows that “neurons respond in a highly idiosyncratic way to different aspects of texture.3” Different neurons exist for different textures, and your brain can expect a certain texture. Some people like consistency, and some like to spice up their lives a little, but either way, they are preparing for what they’re having. Whether you like the science or not, one thing should be universally accepted: when you’re drinking a smoothie you should not feel massive chunks in your slurps.
When eating things like steaks or bagels, you expect a hard chew. With foods like pudding or soup, you should prepare to do minimal chewing. Textures and expectations are the same when it comes to food. People don’t tend to care too much for texture, and they don’t mainly base decisions on it. Though it won’t change nutritional value, it will drastically change one’s eating experience. Texture is a personal preference, so I can’t tell everyone to avoid this or that, but I can give my thoughts on some controversial aspects.
Chewy, buttery, tender, fall off the bone; all aspects of meat. People expect great barbeque or high-end steaks to be like this. This is great when eating meat because you are going to want to have to chew something savory and umami. Having the food that makes you have to chew and work for your meal, it’s kind of a reward for eating it in a barbaric way. Foods, like meats or noodles, embody what it means to earn your food. The problem with this is that nobody wants to work all the time.
When people eat desserts like ice cream, cake, and yogurt, they expect a velvety, creamy texture. Most of the time, you get it. The exceptions are when you get toppings or know something is inside. Being prepared for the mix of textures, and with the sweet flavor coming out so predominantly, you feel safe and happy. There is a reason people close their eyes and moan a little when they take a bite of fancy chocolate cake, and it’s because they feel content. They wanted something sweet and comforting, and that’s exactly what they got. On the other hand, you have things like fruit.
Fruits are some of the most demonic things in the world. Yes, they have nutritional value and one could argue that they are sweet, but what’s up with that texture? There are so many things wrong with the texture of all fruits. Most of the time, after you take your first bite, there is a stringy residue. It isn’t a good stringy feel like strings of meat said prior, but a cold super small stringy feeling where there’s a creepy tickle on your bottom lip. And not to mention half of that flavor is just water. Fruits have a lot of water in them. It’s great, but it’s not a good enough flavor to sacrifice a gross feel. A great way to combat all that is to make a fruit smoothie. A delicious way to get a lot of fruit into your diet at once. Smoothies are great when done properly, but if it’s not, they can be just as horrible as plain old stringy fruits.
Smoothies you buy at places like Smoothie King or Jamba Juice are great because they have the proper recipes and materials to make your favorite smoothies. The key to why they’re so great is that they are smooth and consistent throughout the whole cup. When you have poor equipment and don’t know what you’re doing, there could be such an inconsistent texture with the smoothie to the point that it’s so horrific to drink you end up eating it. When blades get too dull or there is not enough power behind the machine, parts of the fruits can be missed in the chopping stages. This creates the worst, most teeth-grinding texture in the world. When you start to drink your smoothie, it will first feel smooth, but then the leftover unchopped fruit masses will collide with your tongue and give you the tingling sensation that something’s wrong. The tragedy is that the stringy, disgusting texture is no longer just on your lips, but has infiltrated your mouth and is one step closer to entering your body. It should be everyone’s imperative to stop this cruel treatment of the human body. Stop sacrificing that horrible textured gruel in your mouth, find better ways to get those nutrients.
Fruits are disgusting. They suck and should not be as well-loved. This is solely about their texture of them. If fruits were made to be so healthy and nutritious for you, why would they make them feel so cringe-worthy when eating them? I beg of you, find alternatives to horrible fruits, nay, foods with horrible textures. Not only will you start to enjoy food a lot more, but you’ll be granted the title of the greatest food pioneer ever.
- Purves D, Augustine GJ, Fitzpatrick D, et al., editors. Neuroscience. 2nd edition. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates; 2001. The Organization of the Taste System. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11018/
- Trigeminal nerve: Trigeminal neuralgia, facial pain, conditions. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved March 6, 2023, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21581-trigeminal-nerve#:~:text=The%20trigeminal%20nerve%20is%20the,help%20you%20chew%20and%20swallow.
- Wood, M. (2019, February 7). How the brain responds to texture. UChicago Medicine. Retrieved March 6, 2023, from https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/neurosciences-articles/how-the-brain-responds-to-texture