Texturally Speaking - Food Thoughts with Sheryl Estrada

The taste buds of the tongue allow you to experience flavor. But the sensations caused by the texture of certain food and beverages on the tongue might stand in the way of the experience. I like to try new food and beverages all the time, especially if they are healthy. So, I learned to get over certain textures that my tongue would often disagree with.

Here are a few of which I've managed to jump the hurdle.

Bubble tea.

I first tried the beverage invented in Taiwan a few years ago in New York City's Chinatown. I ordered an infused tea with milk, served cold. The components are shaken together with ice, then tapioca balls are added, eventually sinking to the bottom of the cup. I took a huge sip of the tea at first, sending a barrage of tapioca pearls up the wide straw. My reflex was to swallow them all. Once I got the hang of sipping it slowly, I was able to chew the gummy tapioca along with tasting the spicy milk tea. After a few times of trying it, I got used to the gummy aspect of the tapioca. Now I really enjoy the tea beverage. There are many different varieties to choose from. My favorite is the bubble tea with ginger and milk, iced.

Kiwifruit.

I think the kiwifruit, or kiwi for short, is one of the most visually appealing fruit. Its brown, fuzzy skin covers a bright green flesh adorned with tiny black seeds. I find the flavor of the flesh to be tangy and sweet at the same time. And, kiwi is high in vitamin C. However, I learned that the highest vitamin concentration is stored right under the edible skin, and it's better to eat the skin. "You can eat the hairy fruit like an apple?," I thought. For nutrition's sake, I tried eating the skin, instead of just peeling it away. The sensations of the texture took a lot of getting used to. But, the taste of the flesh still shines through.

Cactus pear/prickly pear

This is another visually appealing fruit, when cutting into the velvety, red flesh. Though, unlike kiwi, you definitely can't eat the skin! Make sure to peel it, carefully. The fruit is said to have high levels of vitamin C, magnesium and antioxidants. The texture of the flesh kind of reminds me of watermelon, but not as sweet. And there's a lot of crunch from the abundance of seeds in the center that are a bigger and harder that kiwi seeds. I found that kind of tricky to navigate at first. I think prickly pears are great in salads and salsas. The juice is good too.

Tofu.

A staple of vegetarian eating, tofu is a product of soy milk curds that is high in protein and low in fat. I didn't fancy it at first. I began with the very soft variety, of which I couldn't identify with the texture or taste. Tofu takes the flavor of whatever you choose to cook it in, and hopefully what you choose is something good.  Then I tried the firmer variety in dishes. I particularly enjoy the firm tofu used as mock meats in vegetarian restaurants. One restaurant where I enjoy their version of veggie soul food is Cafe Veg in Harlem.

So what are some food or beverage textures you gotten used to, and now enjoy?