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  • Photo: Jonas Drotner Mouritsen
    Photo: Jonas Drotner Mouritsen

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Mouthfeel: How texture makes taste


Article A new book by professor Ole G. Mouritsen and chef Klavs Styrbæk provides the first in-depth exploration of mouthfeel and how the physical properties of our food enrich our sense of taste.

Why is chocolate melting on the tongue such a decadent sensation? Why do we love crunching on bacon? Why is fizz-less soda such a disappointment to drink, and why is flat beer so unappealing to the palate?

Our sense of taste produces physical and emotional reactions that cannot be explained by chemical components alone. Eating triggers our imagination, draws on our powers of recall, and activates our critical judgment, creating a unique impression in our mouths and our minds.

How exactly does this alchemy work, and what are the larger cultural and environmental implications?

Collaborating in the laboratory and the kitchen, Ole G. Mouritsen and Klavs Styrbæk investigate the multiple ways in which food texture influences taste. Combining scientific analysis with creative intuition and a sophisticated knowledge of food preparation, they write a one-of-a-kind book for food lovers and food science scholars.

By mapping the mechanics of mouthfeel, Mouritsen and Styrbæk advance a greater awareness of its link to our culinary preferences. Gaining insight into the textural properties of raw vegetables, puffed rice, bouillon, or ice cream can help us make healthier and more sustainable food choices. Through mouthfeel, we can recreate the physical feelings of foods we love with other ingredients or learn to latch onto smarter food options. Mastering texture also leads to more adventurous gastronomic experiments in the kitchen, allowing us to reach even greater heights of taste sensation.

February 2017, Columbia University Press.

About the authors:

OLE G. MOURITSEN is a distinguished scientist and professor of biophysics at the University of Southern Denmark. He serves as director of the Danish Center for Taste (Taste for Life) and the Center for Biomembrane Physics (MEMPHYS) and is president of the Danish Gastronomical Academy. His books include Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste (Columbia, 2015), Seaweeds: Edible, Available, and Sustainable (2013), and Sushi: Food for the Eye, the Body, and the Soul (2009).

KLAVS STYRBÆK is an award-winning chef who, with his wife, runs the gastronomical innovation project STYRBÆKS, incorporating an experimental restaurant and a chefs’ school. With Ole G. Mouritsen, he is the author of Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste (Columbia, 2015).

Mentioned in the article

Head of center, professor, DSc, University of Copenhagen

Dr Ole G. Mouritsen is the head of centre in Taste for Life and head of the Gastrophysics focus area. He is a professor in Gastrophysics and Food Innovation at the Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen.

He is an expert in bio- and gastrophysics with a special focus on mediation of the natural sciences to the general population through knowledge about food and taste.

Head chef

Klavs Styrbæk is the head chef and manager of STYRBÆKS, running a restaurant, cooking classes, meeting facilities and food innovation.

With his wife Pia, he has developed learning materials on several topics, i.e. food culture, sustainability and food waste.