Archive for the ‘Observations’ Category

What’s in a Name?   2 comments

Many times when we go for some gourmet eating experiences, we notice the dishes named so exotically different and complicatedly delightful at times. Whether you are making or eating Cranberry Cheese Souffle or Gnocchi (pronounced nyo-KEE) Arrabiata, the name of the dish usually gives a flight to your imagination and adds to the incredible experience. It is all the more pronounced when you have some idea about the cuisine and the dish’s name strikes some chord, bringing back fond memories, you have a feeling of pride that you know what is the thing you just ate! It therefore seems for a rich gourmet experience, restaurants who specialize in such cuisines, might be paying deliberate care and choosing names of their dishes carefully and intelligently.

I have experienced this many times when am making some dish and adding special touches to personalize it. If the dish comes good in the end, the desire to name it creatively is a part of the cooking experience. It adds to the total package what you create! Well, if unfortunately something do comes out as crap, no point wasting a good name on it 😛

This, however, has been a usual part of many of the poor experiences in various restaurants. You go to a slick looking place seemingly serving you exotic gourmet food, you see their menu, craftily designed, you order something new from your favorite cuisine and wait for it, knowing in spirit that you know what you will get! You get served something very different for some strange reason….and there goes your experience!

Case in Point: I wen’t to a restaurant last week, which gave a good feel around it and it seemed the place will have some good Italian stuff.  It was serving buffet and I was gliding through the names. I found one very tempting…Linguini Alfredo (yeah same as that of the boy in Ratatouille!). Strangely when I saw the dish, it was in no way either Linguini or at all Alfredo!!

Linguini Alfredo 

Linguini Alfredo

Fettuccine in Rosé Sauce

Fettuccine in Rosé Sauce

It was in very plain view a classic Fettuccine in Rosé Sauce!! How could anybody confuse between the two so very different dishes! It might have been a very tasty dish, but that naming glitch just provided a very bad first impression. If you just don’t know what you are making, its pretty evident you are just shooting arrows in blind alley.

Incidently I went to a high end Italian restaurant F-Lounge last week and there we find a dish named “Crest de Gallo”, its like naming your dish something like “Spaghetti” or “Penne” without using any of those!! Well, Crest de gallo is a type of pasta and anyone would assume if your dish is named that, it would contain at least few pieces of that 🙂


Posted July 22, 2011 by Rahul in Observations

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Taste vs Texture   Leave a comment

An old article which I wrote a year back during my MBA @ IIM Ahmedabad “Taste vs Texture

Which should be the most important criteria for Food Quality – Taste or Texture?

I always ask people, what is more important in checking quality of food: Taste or Texture. Taste of course!! Spat comes the reply.

Texture according to me is the first thing that comes to mind when evaluating any food product. It is one of the most important attributes used by consumers to assess food quality. Taste always comes secondary. When a person evaluates the quality of food, the first thing that makes an impression on his psyche is the externality professed by the item. Texture of food items also called “Mouthfeel” is a product’s physical feel in the mouth and even outside it, when you look at it, smell it or even envision it. Sometimes perception of taste is even disguised by its texture e.g. Wines, which are usually graded on its quality more by texture than taste.

It has been researched that when consumers eat, the quality is more subtly defined by how the food feels outside and inside the mouth. Cohesiveness, gumminess, crispiness, mouth-coating, graininess, smoothness, uniformity etc. are some of its manifestations which the people analyse sub-consciously when eating.

Taste is more often than not, dependent on the no. of taste buds you have. A person may like a particular food’s taste and the other may darn well reject it as filth. There cannot be a consistent taste quality assurance criteria related to food. However, regarding texture, it is more of feel of food that comes out which is sub-conscious in nature along with numerous testing methodologies like NMR, Spectroscopy etc.

I would take two examples for my point. First is regarding 5 star hotels. Whenever you go to a 5 star hotel, you always find it wanting on taste of food. Invariably, the taste of road-side vendors’ food is much better than the 5 star food. What than sets it apart?? Yes, its quality manifested in its world class texture and aesthetic appeal. The best thing there is the food looks way better and feels way better than the one you see on road side. And do you say the quality of food is better in hotels or road-side?

Second example is regarding health-foods and regionally abundant food items. Typical example is bland food items like chauli, gawarfali, lauki etc. These don’t provide taste per say and are often advised to be eaten without enhancements. Now, how do you choose between different vendors providing the same item: Great, How the food feels and looks! That is the first impression of food you get, which you associate with quality, however, taste comes in picture now, because it’s like a brand which you consciously develop in your own pretty mind, but it never should be a criteria for quality (There however are few differentiated food item categories where the tastes are so well standardized that it evolves as quality criterion).

In conclusion I would say that when you prepare a dish, make sure it looks good and feels good, coz’ even if it tastes divine but looks horrible, people just won’t touch it!

Posted July 17, 2011 by Rahul in Food Quality, Observations

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