crrrruuunch ssccchhrrrt ccrrrr kk cht kt kt
It’s tricky to capture the satisfaction of eating crunchy food in words. Onomatopoeia just doesn’t cut it.
Is there anything more satisfying than breaking the caramel seal of a crème brûlée? The crack of a light green celery stick. The crunch of salted crisps. When a plate of food arrives in front of me, I already know what it should sound like and there is nothing more disconcerting that not hearing what you expect. How bitter the disappointment of biting into an apple — full of the anticipation of being greeted by the resounding snap of juicy flesh — only to be met by a sullen and floury excuse for a piece of fruit. Blurgh! would be my reaction, and there are no sharp t d ch k tasty, crunchy consonants there.
All too often, the sound of food is forgotten. There is something reassuring and refreshing about food that sings its last vital moment before consumption. Like a martyr crying out his last joyful prayers as he burns at the stake; the sound of a barbeque is almost as good as it tastes. Food that remains silent has something to hide; a floppy carrot or a limp piece of celery are not to be trusted as they sneak around your salad unheard.
Manufacturers refer to the sound of food as ‘mouth feel.’ They realise the importance consumers put on what food feels like in one’s mouth as much as what it tastes like. Yet a phrase that sells junk food is actually an age-old human desire to feel fully alive. It’s the feeling you get when you lose yourself in a mouthful of food. That panna cotta in Florence tasted so fine I shouldn’t have been eating it in public. Those peaches in San Sebastian. A fresh chocolate brownie in Borough market. Moments of food bliss like that do not have a sell-by date because they make us feel alive.
Life is at its fullest when you eat with all your senses; we know this food is good because every one of our senses sings out to us. As we see, feel, smell, taste and hear what goes into our mouths, our whole body is confirmed and obliterated at the same time. Just for a moment, we are more than human.