It is Thanksgiving dinner and you’ve just taken your seat at the dinner table. All you can think of is the abundance of delectable food: Turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and mom’s pumpkin pie. But before you take a bite out of that succulent turkey breast think about it…What makes this combination of food such a tantalizing experience? The perfect combination of three factors is what makes this an extravagant meal: Taste, texture, and temperature. These are the most important factors that create a decadent meal.
Taste is a fickle. It is can be a burning sensation that lingers for what seems like an eternity, or it can be a fleeting burst of sweet tingly goodness that lingers just long enough for you to savor the moment…and then wish for more. Red chili paste is a perfect example of burning and agonizing goodness. When added to any salty dish it adds a blend of heat and fire that is the the perfect pain. It lingers just long enough to make one savor the fiery sensation that wreathes and writhes on your tongue and then reach and apply for more. On the opposite end of the spectrum is any type of chocolate. I like to think of chocolate as the perfect remedy for any sad occasion. Think about it. You and your significant other have just split nobody is there for you except who? Dove milk chocolate bites. The moment that dark substance tickles your tongue the sweet flicker is bound to make you crack a smile. Before you know it you have a new lover: Chocolate. The sweet savory flavor dances on your tongue making you reach a semi euphoric state. Then it’s gone. Chocolate is an extremely tasty treat but one must always be prepared with multiple pieces so that more isn’t desired. Especially if one is using it to treat heartache.
Imagine biting into a Tostitos chip. What sound comes to mind? CRUNCH. Texture is such an important factor in the dining experience. The perfect crunch of a salty pretzel, or the tender, juicy, succulence one experiences when biting into a perfectly cooked piece of chicken breast can be the difference between an average dinner and a feast. Imagine the inverse. A soggy, chewy Tostitos tortilla chip that just limply squishes around in your mouth while you chew, or perhaps a rock hard piece of chicken crisply crunching in your mouth as you try to force it down the hatch. That’s just not right. When I want to enjoy some chips I want the vicious crunch with every chew and the tingly crackle on my teeth. Now that sounds tempting to me.
Hot or cold? Temperature is the final aspect of a meal but it is also the most versatile, in other words some foods can be enjoyed hot or cold. Pizza. There’s nothing quite like a gooey, cheesy, piping hot pizza pie being removed from the oven and then being devoured within minuets. Pizza. There’s nothing quite like opening the refrigerator and scanning the desolate premise and then resting your eyes on that last piece of leftover pizza cold, firm, saucy but oh so perfect and satisfying. The combination of hot and cold is also a deadly combination. Fried ice cream for example is just such a potent combination. The hot, sweet, crunchy goodness of the fried outer shell mixed with the cold frosty bite of the ice cream is enough to make any grown man weak. When in doubt about temperature imagine your favorite hot meal now freeze it. Not cool.
So what makes a meal an experience? The perfect combination of culinary elements: Taste, texture, and temperature. You’re back at the dinner table. It’s still thanksgiving dinner but now as you’re about to enjoy the divine goodness that has become an American staple you will truly enjoy and relish the dining experience.