Chinese and Japanese Terms for Food Textures

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Catching up on some oldish e-mail, I came upon this interesting one from Francois Lang dated 5/9/23:

According to an article in yesterday's NYT, "A 2008 report in the Journal of Texture Studies lists 144 Chinese terms for food texture".
The NYT article also says "In Japan, such terms number more than 400. 'Too many,' a team of Japanese scientists demurred in a paper presented at the 2016 International Conference on Knowledge-Based and Intelligent Information and Engineering Systems".
It sure beats the old discredited trope about 100 Eskimo Inuit terms for "snow"!

The title of the NYT (5/8/23) article by Ligaya Mishan is "Why Do American Diners Have Such a Limited Palate for Textures?"  I beg your pardon?  The title alone is a non-starter for me.

The textures and tastes of East Asian foods offer an astonishing range of sensations, and I enjoy finding exactly the right words (in a variety of languages) to describe what I'm feeling when I eat them.  But the same holds true with foods from all over the world, including right here at home (wherever that might be at any given time).

Selected readings


  1. Chris Barts said,

    August 10, 2023 @ 5:12 pm

    It always annoys me when people apparently think "Inuit" is a drop-in replacement for "Eskimo" even if it is jocular. Imagine someone saying "'European' is racist, the proper term is 'German'" and that doesn't even get into the complicated issue of whether "Eskimo" is even insulting to begin with.

    Here's an interesting, evenhanded take:

  2. Taylor, Philip said,

    August 11, 2023 @ 3:54 am

    I don't get annoyed when I see "Inuit" used to mean "Esimo" but I do agree that such use represents a category error. But it also reminds me of an incident from some 50 years ago when someone telephoned me to ask how to spell the plural of /ˈesk ɪ məʊ/ (they were playing Scrabble at the time). I replied "Esquimaux", which completely confused them as they were expecting "Eskimos" or "Eskimoes". In the end I had to refer them to the OED.

  3. bks said,

    August 11, 2023 @ 6:36 am

    Eskimo is not a valid scrabble word, plural form or no. No proper nouns.

  4. Dara Connolly said,

    August 11, 2023 @ 5:32 pm

    My understanding is that Eskimo is not a proper noun. It is a common noun (and an adjective), albeit a capitalised one. I have read that a historic change in Scrabble rules, from banning only proper nouns to banning all normally-capitalised words, resulted in the word "Iraqi" being excluded, which was a pain if you were looking to place that high-value Q.

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