mealy (texture, fruit & veg)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Wilma_Sweden, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Moderatös

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    I would like to know if mealy is the word I'm after. I want to describe the texture of specific potato or apple varieties that are dry and soft, the opposite of firm and juicy.

    I don't have a specific context sentence. Typically, one would see such descriptions in the supermarket, next to the name of a specific variety of potato or apple, to describe its texture.

    /Wilma
     
     
    : gastronomy
  2. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    "Mealy" is usually a negative term, in my experience, when describing fruits or vegetables. I wouldn't expect to see it as part of a description in a supermarket.
     
  3. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    I've heard the phrase "starchy texture" used to dscribe something like that. It sounds more appetizing than "mealy."
     
  4. jpyvr Senior Member

    Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil
    English - Canadian
    I agree with JamesM. "Mealy" is not a term that anyone would use to promote a particular variety of fruit or vegetable. One of the world's biggest gastronomic disappointments is a lovely red apple that turns out to be "mealy."
     
  5. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Moderatös

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    Thannk you for your comments.

    Starchy sounds 'scientific', so maybe that's a better term. How about floury?

    I can imagine that apples and potatos might not have the same terms to describe them. After all, the description of the potato normally refers to the potato after cooking, while we would normally be interested in the texture of the fresh apple (unless you're a professional apple pie producer...) .
     
  6. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    Mealy would be taken as a negative even if you were speaking of meal.
    I had to look in the dictionary to see where you were getting "soft and dry" for "mealy" as I hadn't heard of a meaning close to this. Merriam-Webster has a definition that says "soft, dry, and friable". Friable means it crumbles (breaks apart) easily which is not something I'd want in a raw apple or potato either.
     
  7. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    Speaking for my own idiolect, I don't think "mealy" necessarily connotes "friable" ("crumbly?").
     
  8. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    "Floury" would be good for potatoes, but not for apples....

    Actually, I'm trying to think of a situation in which we would want an apple to be anything other than firm and juicy. Are we perhaps talking about the distinction between cooking apples and eating apples?
     
  9. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    I was only reporting what Merriam-Webster had for an alternate meaning. I do not get any of soft or dry or friable from it, much less all three at once as M-W says. To me, it means lumpy, pebbly, grainy in texture.

    Floury sounds like either powdery or doughy to me. I'm not attracted to the display of "floury" potatoes.
     
  10. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    I agree with Loob, and I'm having trouble identifying the kind of vegetable or fruit being described, other than unfavourably. The word that springs to mind is "woolly", which is not complimentary.

    I would have thought that "mealy" will either not be understood, or associated with mealy-mouthed or, even worse, mealworms. I don't think I'd even use the word to describe "meal".
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2010
  11. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    Potatoes that are good for baking because after they are cooked they have a dry crumbly texture (as opposed to moist and gummy) are referred to by cookbooks, Loob (I think), Magic Mole and me as "floury".

    I can think of no parallel adjective for apples. A mealy apple is disagreeable; it is soft and has an unpleasant texture. For me, the opposite of a mealy apple is a firm one. It will hold it's shape when cooked, and will have a smooth texture when I bite into it. However, "firm" is not a quality I associate with potatoes.

    Do you want a single adjective that describes them both?
     
  12. Doofy Junior Member

    Chicago, Ill.
    English - US
    A dissenting view: I think "mealy" is perfect here. From a guide to apples at epicurious.com (which I'd consider pretty authoritative):

    <<McIntosh - Characteristics: This apple is the least firm of all the ones rounded up in this illustrated guide. The soft flesh can be described as "creamy" or "mealy," which makes this variety a good candidate for eating raw or for apple sauce or apple butter, but not necessarily for baking.>>

    I acknowledge that mealy is usually pejorative, especially as regards apples...We all like firm crispy ones! But here at least we see it used to describe a neutral characteristic of apples. I see sites where it's similarly used to describe potatoes.

    If you still don't like mealy, perhaps "creamy" will do! :)
     
  13. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    There are a fair amount of instances of "mealy potato" in this search used simply as a description:

    http://www.bing.com/search?q=%22mealy+potato%22&src=IE-SearchBox&FORM=IE8SRC&adlt=strict

    In particular, this page seems to contrast two basic types of potatoes:

    http://homecooking.about.com/od/howtocookvegetables/a/mashpotrice.htm

    Another page from this site talks about the selection process:

    http://homecooking.about.com/od/howtocookvegetables/a/mashpotselect.htm


    I would still say, though, that I would tend not to buy a potato that was described as "mealy" in the supermarket. I wouldn't have a problem with "creamy".
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2010
  14. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    James, I think your site's "mealy" must be my "floury" - here's the UK's Potato Council on the difference between "waxy" and "floury" potatoes:
    (source)
    Mind you, I don't think I've ever seen the terms "waxy" and "floury" in a supermarket: usually, the potatoes are labelled by variety...
     
  15. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I'm sort of agreeing and disagreeing here: I'd use floury to describe both potatoes and apples (such as the misnamed so-called golden delicious or french delicious or red delicious varieties).
     
  16. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    I agree with James on both counts: "mealy" is sometimes used as a non-pejorative description of potatoes, and it is probably not a word that sounds appealing to most people. "Mealy" is a minority usage, no doubt for that reason. I doubt that a grocer would advertise that quality. (There are also some hits for "mealy potato" site:UK. Seed catalogs seem to like it.)

    Concerning mealy apples, the situation is different. If I search Google for "mealy apple", none of the first 30 or so hits are neutral, and certainly none are favorable. Aside from definitions, most of them are complaints about mealy apples, discussions of how to avoid buying or raising mealy apples, suggestions of how to use mealy apples despite the fact they are mealy, etc.

    Here is the first hit:
    Any way to ID a mealy apple BEFORE biting into it?
    Jan 9, 2009 ... Does anyone have suggestions on how to pick out apples to make sure you don't get a mealy mess? I've heard of pinching the skin to see if it ...
    Here a critique of a new computer uses mealy apple metaphorically, to represent something no one wants:
    Another Mealy Apple - MarketBeat - WSJ
    The most actively traded stock in premarket activity was Apple Computer, which fell 2.7% after the Financial Times reported that Steve Jobs, chief executive ....
     
  17. Doofy Junior Member

    Chicago, Ill.
    English - US
    I agree with this. Just because "mealy" is a correct culinary term doesn't mean it's going to sell any apples! The trick is to find some way of describing the soft, yielding, voluptuous pleasures of a ripe McIntosh. :cool:
     
  18. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Moderatös

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    Thank you all for your comments! This turned out to be quite fruitful as far as threads can be... ;)

    I don't necessarily require the adjective to be the same for apples and potatoes, and I have yet to discover if there really is an objective difference in texture between mealy and floury. I do agree, however, that mealy doesn't sound that appetizing - I get images of mould when I hear mealy, while I get images of flowers when I hear floury!

    In my local supermarkets, apples are usually displayed with the name of the variety, e.g. Granny Smith, and the country of origin, while potatoes are usually displayed with the name of the variety, e.g. King Edward, and an adjective to describe its texture, i.e. Swedish for either firm or mealy/floury, and very rarely what country they are from. The whole question arose because a friend of mine asked what texture adjective would be used in English, and I realised I didn't have a clue! :eek:

    In any case, I see that I can't expect to find texture descriptions in supermarkets elsewhere, so getting to know the spuds, apples etc by variety name seems essential for successful food shopping!
     

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