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Flavor network and the principles of food pairing


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An interesting paper published last week in Nature, Flavor network and the principles of food pairing, shows that Western cuisine tends to favor ingredient combinations where flavor compounds are similar while Eastern cuisine tends to the opposite, with ingredient combinations where flavor compounds are not similar. Fascinating. Perhaps this insight open the door to new flavor profile options for Western or Eastern cooking. What do you think?

Abstract:

The cultural diversity of culinary practice, as illustrated by the variety of regional cuisines, raises the question of whether there are any general patterns that determine the ingredient combinations used in food today or principles that transcend individual tastes and recipes. We introduce a flavor network that captures the flavor compounds shared by culinary ingredients. Western cuisines show a tendency to use ingredient pairs that share many flavor compounds, supporting the so-called food pairing hypothesis. By contrast, East Asian cuisines tend to avoid compound sharing ingredients. Given the increasing availability of information on food preparation, our data-driven investigation opens new avenues towards a systematic understanding of culinary practice.

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An interesting paper published last week in Nature, Flavor network and the principles of food pairing, shows that Western cuisine tends to favor ingredient combinations where flavor compounds are similar while Eastern cuisine tends to the opposite, with ingredient combinations where flavor compounds are not similar. Fascinating. Perhaps this insight open the door to new flavor profile options for Western or Eastern cooking. What do you think?

Abstract:

The cultural diversity of culinary practice, as illustrated by the variety of regional cuisines, raises the question of whether there are any general patterns that determine the ingredient combinations used in food today or principles that transcend individual tastes and recipes. We introduce a flavor network that captures the flavor compounds shared by culinary ingredients. Western cuisines show a tendency to use ingredient pairs that share many flavor compounds, supporting the so-called food pairing hypothesis. By contrast, East Asian cuisines tend to avoid compound sharing ingredients. Given the increasing availability of information on food preparation, our data-driven investigation opens new avenues towards a systematic understanding of culinary practice.

it was an interesting paper and it really highlights the complexity of modeling this stuff.

to me it looks like there are two flavor pairing strategies; alliteration favored by the west and a collage favored by the east.

if you look at cocktail recipes, you can see both strategies commonly employed. cocktail recipes might actually be a more useful thing to study because they are slightly more simplified and there is lots of data. if you watch beginner mixologists (unfortunatley i've only known western ones), they favor really simple alliteration, but that might be because they mix things based on symbolic attributes and not aesthetic sensory attributes.

chocolate and blue cheese might be harmonic on a sensory level, but it is likely not harmonic on a symbolic level and just like we have a hard time detaching olfaction from gustation, so to do we have a hard time unraveling the sensory and symbolic. the "if it grow together, it goes together" hypothesis gives us symbolic harmony which might influence our perceived sensory harmony of the pairing.

i think the food pairing hypothesis needs to be integrated into an attentional context. we like and probably need attentional things. extraordinary tonality is more attentional than ordinary tonality. alliteration might help build extraordinary tonality. the attentional points of a collage might also draw us in. my guess is that specific types of attentional experiences help us dispel anxiety as well as cement and retrieve memories.

acquired tastes are definitely attentional and each culture sure has their favorites. patterns can definitely be found between acquired tastes, but i don't think the data sets in the paper could capture them. cocktails again might be a simplified and useful way of measuring harmonic bounds.

i've seen the food pairing hypothesis used in wine & food interaction but it has never seemed to work for me. things like salt can reveal to us how constructed reality is when we eat and food & wine pairings explore this. sensory after images (every sense has them) influence food interactions with a delay which results in contrast detection being changed. this has been explored in the black art theater of musicians.

i think advancements in flavor perception are going to really take off in the next few years. fun stuff.

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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