Savory the flavor-y

by Jessica Wang, Asst. Opinions Editor

Savory foods, characterized by rich and complex flavors often achieved through the use of herbs, spices and umami-rich ingredients like meat, mushrooms and soy sauce, have flavors that are deeply satisfying and lend a sense of comfort to those who eat them.

Savory foods have greater versatility than sweet foods; they can be enjoyed at any time of day, from breakfast to dinner and any time in between, and can be adapted to suit a wide range of cultural and dietary preferences. Savory dishes also pair well with a variety of beverages, including beer, wine and cocktails, making them a popular choice for social gatherings.

While sweet foods are often high in sugar and calories, savory foods can be rich in protein, fiber and healthy fats. They provide sustained energy and promote feelings of fullness, which helps prevent overeating and support healthy weight management.

One of the reasons why savory foods are so satisfying is that they often contain a variety of textures as well as flavors. For example, a savory dish might include crispy, crunchy or chewy elements along with creamy or silky components. This creates a more interesting and enjoyable eating experience than sweet foods, which often have a more uniform texture. Savory dishes can be prepared in many different ways, including grilling, roasting, simmering and frying, allowing for a wide range of cooking techniques and culinary creativity. Frying foods gives them a unique crispiness and grilling lends a deeper charred flavor to the dish and marinating allows for greater flavor; it is the unique combination of so many different methods of cooking savory dishes that allows them to be so delicious.

A personal favorite of mine is fried chicken: crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, browned to perfection, perfectly seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices. Different cultures have their own unique ways of seasoning fried chicken, such as using paprika, cayenne pepper, or chili powder in the United States versus a blend of turmeric, cumin and coriander in Indian-style fried chicken. It’s also quite a personable dish: some people prefer their fried chicken to be extra crispy, while others prefer a softer, more tender texture. Fried chicken can also be served with a variety of dipping sauces or condiments, such as hot sauce, ranch dressing or honey mustard, which add even more flavor to each bite.

When I eat sweet foods, it can be easy for me to consume them quickly and mindlessly, without really savoring the flavors or paying attention to my body’s cues of hunger and fullness. In contrast, savory foods often require more attention and engagement, as I focus on the different flavors and textures and take time to chew and savor each bite.

I find savory foods to be more satisfying than sweet foods because they provide a sense of balance and contrast in flavors. The combination of salty, sour, bitter and umami flavors creates a more complex and interesting eating experience, which is more enjoyable than simply consuming sweet foods. These dishes create a sense of warmth and familiarity, evoking memories of home-cooked meals or special occasions.