Word of Mouth: Mouthfeel

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Mouthfeel, noun: The physical sensation of food in the mouth.

This has always struck us as a rather odd and inelegant word. Drop it in conversation among non-foodies, and you’re likely to get a lot of blank looks and a few twitters!

Yet, it’s also the most apt term for the concept we’re trying to describe–literally the “feel” of the food in your “mouth.”

There are two sides to mouthfeel. The first is the actual, tactile experience of the food in your mouth. It’s the difference between chunky soup and a pureed soup, or something that’s chewy and something that’s crunchy.

The second facet is the perceived sensation. By this we mean what the tongue thinks it feels based on chemical properties or flavor combinations in the food, not what it actually feels. For instance, the way some beers taste creamy without any cream, or the way a pear can make your tongue feel fuzzy.

Mouthfeel is often linked with roundness in flavor, the taste element that ties all the individual flavors in a dish together. A well-rounded dish physically coats the palate (physical mouthfeel) while also stimulating several different areas of taste on the tongue (perceived mouthfeel).

Do you use this word when you talk about food?

(Image: Flickr member Pingu1963 licensed under Creative Commons)