Food flavours

January 5th, 2011 | Uncategorized

A few days ago I wrote about a cheese and wine paring website I had discovered on the web which was both well presented and reasonably informative. Today it is the turn of a book I bought from Amazon that covers the concept of pairing different foods and discusses how various flavour combinations may or may not work together.

It is obviously true to say that there is a very close relationship between food and wine that probably goes a long way towards explaining why nearly every person that I know in the wine trade is also a quite serious ‘foodie’. Indeed, if I look at my own collection of books it is probably split 50/50 between wine and food.

This new book is quite simply named The Flavour Thesaurus (by Niki Segnit), and attempts, quite successfully, to do exactly what is says on the cover, providing an extensive reference of foods and their flavours.

By way of a first step to simplify and organise, the book starts by grouping flavours together under headings such as citrus, woodland, meaty, earthy, marine etc., (and you might not always agree with them as taste is always so subjective). One of the things that I still find the most difficult despite my many years in the wine business is trying to express different flavours and taste sensations in words, using vocabulary that people will understand. Fortunately, I was rarely writing my tasting notes for the literary masses, but usually only for my own personal reference, so if I decided to use an obscure turn of phrase I would always know exactly what it meant. For example, I would sometimes write ‘spangled fruit’ in my notes, which is a reference to the fruit spangle sweets that I used to eat as a child – it is a particular type of slightly tart, piercing, boiled sweet fruit, the important thing being that it was a description that I always understood…… sorry, I digress.

Under each food heading comes the actual pairing, where for example, black pudding might be paired with bacon or chocolate – sounds bizarre? Well, perhaps, but the thing that this book really attempts to do is to stimulate and open your mind to new and untried possibilities. Throw away the old culinary crutches of Delia Smith and Robert Carrier and enter the new and exciting world of endless flavour combinations. For instance, we have all been dazzled in recent years by the audacious food pairings of contemporary chefs such as Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal, so why not buy this book and use it as your inspiration to go a bit wild in the confines of your own kitchen?!

By the way this is strictly a reference book, and so if you only like food books with lots of glossy pictures then forget it, this book is not for you!

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