Why ‘moist’ shouldn’t make a cook cringe

Want to make people uncomfortable? Just say something is “moist.”

Studies show that many people don’t like the word, in large part because of its association with sweat and other types of moisture we’d rather not talk about.

Yet when it comes to cooking, moist is a good thing, both when it comes to texture (who likes dry cake?) and basic techniques such as simmering, braising, steaming or stewing.

Moisture — the presence of a liquid — is what makes breads spongy, vegetables tender, watermelon juicy and pastries so wonderfully silky. Moist-heat cooking methods like poaching and frying, meanwhile, keep foods from drying out, resulting in tender, flavorful meat and seafood dishes.

New Castle, Lawrence County, native and cookbook author Kathy Hunt can’t understand why so many people bristle at “moist.” But she sees it, especially among younger adults and kids who either giggle or gag (and sometimes both) at its mere mention.