Hi! I’ve had COVID for the last two weeks! And I lost all my taste and smell, so food has been really, really boring. Turns out when your food tastes like nothing, all you want to eat is nothing. Understandably yet so unfortunately, that means food and this blog has been the last thing on my mind. But! There is a silver lining. In my weeks of tasting nothing, I’ve paid more attention to aspects of food beyond just flavor. I got more intentional about texture and gave some thought to how to make my food taste new and interesting when it tasted like nothing. Here is what I learned from that!
1. Not all crunchy is the same
Before I lost my taste, potato chips, crackers, and Nature Valley granola bars were all just crunchy. But when I was forced to hone in on just their texture, turns out that’s not true at all! Potato chips are crackly crunchy. Crackers are powdery crunchy. Nature Valley granola bars are crumbly crunchy. Crunchy has been my favorite texture to eat since I lost my taste (and honestly since forever), and I’m learning more about how to use the different kinds of crunchy. I like crackly crunchy things alone, and they’re easy to snack on. Crumbly crunchy things feel substantial and satisfying, and I eat them when I need to feel satiated. Powdery crunchy things feel nice paired with something smooth and warm (like soup!).
2. …. and not all soft or mushy food is the same
Soup is smooth, and can stand alone but is also good with powdery crunchy or the yet-to-be-mentioned crispy crunchy that is toasted bread. Mushy soft falls apart. Like a well cooked potato. I like to pair this texture with something of some sort of crunchy to offset! Hard soft is like a potato that’s juuuuuust slightly undercooked. This is good for stews! And in soups with chunks.
3. Two is (almost) always better than one
This should go without saying, but contrasting textures are interesting! Let’s use them. Baked potato with crispy shallots and a cripsy skin. Lentils with fried potatoes on top! Get funky. It tastes less boring.
4. Size matters
A big thing I learned was that in the absence of taste, I don’t like small crunchy things. They feel like shards of glass to me. Bit-sized or bigger for me….learn what you like in your textures! And realize that just like food is about more than taste, texture is about more than just the texture.
5. Chewy is best used as a vessel for flavor
Eating chewy things when you can’t taste, in my humble opinion, totally sucks. Chewy things make you focus on the food, they give your mouth a moment to consider what’s inside. I didn’t fully realize it before, but this means that chewy food has maximal impact when it has flavor that can stand up to that prolonged experience, otherwise you’re just eating rubber. I will now be more intentional about flavor complexity in chewy foods!
These are some short musings from a recently out of quarantine (but still tasteless) soul. Maybe you enjoyed! If you did, be sure to follow for next week when I talk about how to make a salad that doesn’t suck.