Tissues and Textures

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The texture of tender meat is as distinctive and satisfying as its flavor: a “meaty” food is something you can sink your teeth into, dense and substantial, initially resistant to the tooth but soon giving way as it liberates its flavor. Toughness is a resistance to chewing that persists long enough to become unpleasant. Toughness can come from the muscle fibers, the connective tissue surrounding them, and from the lack of marbling fat.

Connective tissue. Muscle fibers are bundled, held in place, and reinforced by sheets of connective tissue. The more connective tissue in a given piece of meat, the tougher its texture.