Introduction:

Everybody has their own personal preference with food. What one person loves, another person hates. And this often depends on taste or texture. This is important when you're at a business lunch and you have to describe the different types of dishes, food or drinks to people. In this online exercise on food, we will look at the adjectives used in English for describing the different tastes and textures of food and drink.

Exercise: Food Tastes and Textures

Read the following conversation between Peter and Juan in a restaurant in Yorkshire. Peter is describing the different tastes and textures of the dishes on a menu. Focus on the words/phrases in BOLD and think about their meaning.

Peter:

'So Juan, what do you fancy having?'

Juan:

'I'm not sure. There's lots of food and dishes from around the world on this menu. You've eaten here before, what's the chicken vindaloo curry like?'

Peter:

'It's very hot. The last time I had it, my mouth was burning for about 15 minutes. To be honest, it's a bit bland, it doesn't really taste of anything. If you want to have a curry, I would recommend the tikka masala, it's spicy, they use about 15 different spices in it, but it's not hot. I like it, it's really tasty.'

Juan:

'I'm not sure I want Indian food. And the fish and chips?'

Peter:

'Although I'm English, I don't like it, it's greasy. It's covered in too much oil for me.'

Juan:

'What are the salads like here? They have a caesar salad, is it ok?'

Peter:

'Well, yeah. I had it a couple of years ago. They use fried bacon in the salad as well, which is strange. The iceberg lettuce and the bacon were very crispy, they make a noise when you first chew them. It has fried croutons, which were so crunchy, it was almost like eating a savoury biscuit. But for me, the caesar sauce was too creamy, they used too much cream. There's another salad that I had the last time I was here, called the Naples salad. It's got so many different things in it, it has anchovies that are very salty, but it also has small pieces of lemon that gives the salad a bit of a sour taste. Because it's in theory Italian it also has pieces of parmesan in it, the hard cheese that they grate on top of Italian pasta. It doesn't sound good, but the combination works very well.'

Juan:

'I'll order that. Have you looked at the desserts? They have a coffee cake, I like coffee, but the last time I had one was in Spain and it had a very bitter taste, it was like I was eating coffee without the cake.'

Peter:

'I don't know. I've never tried it. I've had the toffee ice cream, which was really good. The ice cream is very creamy and it has small pieces of toffee in it, they are really chewy, they get stuck in your teeth. There's also the butter croissant, which is really flaky and it comes with a smooth raspberry sauce.'

Juan:

'And the chocolate cake?'

Peter:

'It's very rich, it's almost like you're eating a bar of chocolate.'



 Link to Dictionary

Quiz: Food Tastes and Textures Vocabulary

Below is a definition/description of each of the taste and texture adjectives in bold from the above text. Now fill in the blanks with one of these words in bold. Only use one adjective once and write it as it is in the text. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.


1. Food that is cooked with a lot of oil or fat, is often    

         

Greasy:
(adjective) It is used for food that is fried like chips, crisps etc... Something that still has a lot of oil or fat after cooking. This is normally used as a negative describing adjective. In Spanish: "grasiento".

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Greasy:

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2. Food that when first chewed has a hard texture and makes a noise in the mouth (e.g. fried bacon), is    

         

Crispy:
(adjective) This is the texture of food that is fried at a high temperature quickly like bacon, crisps, rice krispies, but it is also used for lettuce. It is very similar to crunchy, but crispy makes less sound in the mouth when chewing and for less time. A little confusing. In Spanish: "crujiente".

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Crispy:

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3. Food that contains a lot of different types of spices but doesn't burn your mouth, is    

         

Spicy:
(adjective) It is a taste. It describes food that tastes very strongly of spices that are used in it. It is often used to describe food from India or Morocco . It is used by some people with a similar meaning to 'hot', meaning cooked with a lot of chillies. In Spanish: "muy condimentado".

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Spicy:

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4. Dark chocolate (without milk) has a taste that is    

         

Bitter:
(adjective) It is a taste that many people don't like. Coffee has a bitter taste, and both orange peel and grapefruit are bitter. In Spanish: "amargo".

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Bitter:

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5. The opposite of soft, is    

         

Hard:
(adjective) It is a texture. It is used for foods that are difficult to chew or bite, e.g. some types of sweets or candies. In Spanish: "duro".

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Hard:

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6. Food that has a lot of salt in it, is described as    

         

Salty:
(adjective) It is a taste. This is sometimes used as a negative describing adjective, when the person think that some food has too much salt in it. In Spanish: "salado".

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Salty:

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7. Normally, the dessert is sweet and the main course is    

         

Savoury:
(adjective) It is a way of grouping food by taste. It is used to describe food that is the opposite of sweet. For example meat, cheese, vegetables are all savoury types of food. In Spanish: "salado".

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Savoury:

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8. Food that contains a lot of an ingredient like chocolate, is    

         

Rich:
(adjective) This is generally used to describe sauces or cakes, when it contains a strong flavour of something (like spices, sugar, meat etc..), e.g. 'the sauce with the duck was very rich'. This is normally used as a positive describing adjective. In Spanish: "sustancioso".

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Rich:

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9. Food that contains a lot of chillies, is    

         

Hot:
(adjective) 'Hot' has two different meanings. One, is to describe food that has a high temperature. But in this context 'hot' describes food that contains a lot of chillies and it can feel like your mouth is burning. It is often used to describe food from India or Mexico. Some people use 'spicy' with a similar meaning. In Spanish: "picante".

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Hot:

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10. Food that makes a loud noise in the mouth when chewed, is    

         

Crunchy:
(adjective) A texture. It is often used for foods that are baked like cookies, biscuits, bread or some fried foods like chip/french fries. It is similar to 'crispy', but crunchy foods make a louder sound and for longer in the mouth when chewing. The opposite of crunchy is 'soggy'. In Spanish: "crujiente".

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Crunchy:

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11. Food that doesn't have a strong taste of anything, is    

         

Bland:
(adjective) It is used as a negative adjective to describe food with little distinctive taste. In Spanish: "soso/insípido".

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Bland:

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12. A milkshake is normally creamy and    

         

Smooth:
(adjective) A texture. In this context it is used for liquids (e.g. sauces) and means that there are no pieces or lumps in the liquid, e.g. 'tomato ketchup is smooth'. In Spanish: "sin grumos".

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Smooth:

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13. When something has a good taste or flavour, it is    

         

Tasty:
(adjective) It is used as a positive adjective with food, it means something has a good taste. In Spanish: "sabroso/rico".

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Tasty:

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14. Food like croissants that breaks very easily into small and delicate pieces, is    

         

Flaky:
(adjective) It is a texture. It is normally used to describe the texture of pastries (like croissants) or pies that break into thin small pieces/flakes when eating. In Spanish: "hojaldrado".

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Flaky:

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15. Food that is made from milk products, is often    

         

Creamy:
(adjective) It is a texture. It is used to describe liquids, sauces and desserts that are made from milk products and are thick, e.g. 'milkshake'. In Spanish: "cremoso".

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Creamy:

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16. When you have to chew food in your mouth for a long time before swallowing it, it is    

         

Chewy:
(adjective) A texture. It is normally used to describe sweets like toffee or chewing gum. When it is used to describe the texture of any meat, it is a negative adjective, e.g. 'The steak is chewy.' In Spanish: "masticable/fibroso".

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Chewy:

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17. A lemon has a taste that is    

         

Sour:
(adjective) A taste. It is normally used to describe the tastes of some fruits like limes, lemons and some types of apples. In Spanish: "ácido".

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Sour:

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Practice

Now that you understand the food tastes and textures vocabulary, practice them by describing the taste and texture of some types of dishes from your own country in English.