It seems to me like many people inherently find crispy food desirable: potato chips, tortilla chips, crackers, certain cookies, certain candies, grilled/fried meats, breaded fried chicken, bacon, toast, etc.
If true, then this would suggest crispy foods have some sort of evolutionary heritage in old (paleolithic) human diets? What would crispy food correlate with from the paleolithic? Otherwise, how would people's seeming preference for crispy foods be explained?
I love evolutionary thinking, but I wonder if this might be a case of the brain associating a food texture with some nutritional quality -- the one that springs to mind is salt. Not too many people find unsalted rice cakes or unsalted matzohs satisfy the crunch desire, whereas chips, bacon, etc. fill the bill. It's possible that many cravings (aside from out-and-out addiction) spring from this unconscious database our brains build, associating flavors and textures with nutrient sources.
The taste of crispy animal fat/skin fresh off the spit is has a long history with the human palate...perhaps that's a starting point?
Humans are unique in that we are evolutionary adapted to cooked food. Just think of all the flesh and plants treated with fire or hot coal. Lotta crust! Not to mention fresh fruit and vegetables. Even insects. I think we've been basically chasing our tongues' desires for the past 200'000 years. Anything crunchy, sweet, sour, burnt, salty, bitter - something that has an intense taste and/or smell leaves a big impression in our brains from the instant stimulation/gratification. Plus the intentional food engineering to increase taste stimulation for the past 4-5000 years.... We just have to learn to live with the fact that we're all addicts.
Also, having a life and getting most of your pleasure from it - human interactions, activities, hobbies - goes a loooong way to not being so dependable on food for providing satisfaction.
I found this abstract from a essay at this site: 'http://aof.revues.org/index1458.html'. I think it answers your question.
"Conversely, I argue that the reason for why crispy foods are eaten in limited situations stems from its unique textural composition that usually tends to be light. The crunchy sensation produced when eating crispy foods evokes strong ideas of play, pleasure and delight. A bite into a crispy food arouses a sense of play as it allows for extended mastication and the use of the muscles around the mouth. Due to the lightness of the texture of crispy foods, large amounts need to be consumed in order that this food becomes substantially filling. Thus, these foods are never perceived to be ‘real’ foods as such and, hence, are attributed peripheral status in the Tamil repertoire of foods. It must also be noted that the texture of crispy foods arouses emotions of play, pleasure and delight differently from other foods. These emotions stand in juxtaposition to those aroused when eating soft/wet foods; the latter, on the contrary, are not associated with play but with meeting a nutritional function, although they may be flavourful and, hence, delightful to the palate. Thus, crispy foods essentially perform the role of a relish at main meals, while they are central food elements only in the context of a snack -- an occasion for eating perceived not to provide nutrition but to appeal to the senses of play, pleasure and delight."
I believe this is the significance of crispy food.
I'd go with Stephan Guyenets food reward theory here. Your brain has at some point in your earlier life, via superstimuli, simply learned that crispy texture (supposedly) means lotta nutritional value.
Regarding "many people". The preference for crunchy, roasted stuff seems to be especially prevalent in the States, back in good ol' germany we tend to go more for the tender, savoury stuff. But crisps, chips and cereal are getting more famous progressively. So i guess there is a cultural side to that, too.
I took some classes at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC and there was a section on cravings- they have myriad causes, but it was generally stated that a desire for creamy foods can stem from sadness/a need for comfort and crispy/crunchy foods from anger/anxiety. This idea always stuck with me and I've found it to, personally, be quite accurate.
I'm with you on that! I've always had a need for crunchy things, including my veggies crunchy as well. I'm finally free of the need for crunchy chips and crackers.....but I make my own crackers now using soaked/dried nuts and I love to crumble them over my salad just for a treat.
yum, cripsy skin!!
I got to this discussion cause I was looking for an article I read once about why we like crunchy food. It said that crunchy food caused the skull to vibrate, which certain people find, well, stimulating sounds a bit too sexual, but they find it stimulating. Anyway, I'll keep on looking, and if I find it, will post it here.
Well I don't like many crispy and crunchy foods. They dry out my mouth which I hate, get bits and crumbs everywhere, and many are difficult to chew without poking my mouth. I don't even like my bacon crisp.
I do like raw veggies and crunchy fruits, because they have plenty of moisture.
I LOVE chewy, stringy, rubbery foods simply for the mouth feel, and always have. String cheese, beef jerkey, licorice, all meats but the chewier the better, al dente pasta, squid & octopus, large tapioca pearl - all favorite foods.
I wasn't raised eating many foods that were crispy except produce, since my mom cooked 3 meals a day, I never liked chicken skin and she didn't let us have junk/snack foods, that may have something to do with it.
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