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Food/Flavor pairing: Science? Luck? Geography?


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I am currently completing a M.Sc. in Culinary Innovation and Food Product Development at Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland and for my final year thesis I have chosen the subject of flavour pairing.

My thesis will be mainly focused on traditional flavour pairings in Western European society.

My research will investigate food pairings, how and why they were created by cooks through geography, necessity and seasonality.

This study will also investigate if there is an actual scientific justification behind these pairings and do they work because of a compatibility on a molecular level. With the aid of charts, chromatograms and any other relevant data tables, I will display the molecular similarities, differences or compatibilities in such foods.

This is the list of conventional flavour pairings that I am proposing to investigate:

1. Roast Pork + Apple + Sage

2. Roast Beef + Horseradish + Thyme

3. Roast Chicken + Corn + Parsley

4. Lamb + Mint + Peas + Rosemary/thyme

5. Bacon + Cabbage + Mustard

6. Oysters/Fish + Lemon + Fennel

7. Lime + Chili + Avocado + Cilantro

From here I then propose to investigate 2 new flavour pairings that have been created with the use of the foodpairing.com website.

The 2 new flavour pairings created are unusual combinations that one would not normally consider and will be tested on a number focus groups to check there acceptability levels.

The proposed new flavour pairings are:

1. Banana + Tomato + Peppermint + Strawberry + Bergamot

2. Sardine + Raspberry + Sourdough bread + Chili + Olive oil

I would really like to get people's opinions, recommended reading materials, journals or any other general direction

Thank you all in advance

@umami5

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Waverly Root, a food writer and girthy guy from the mid last century had several books about food: The Food of France and the Food of Italy were stunning books and way ahead of their time.

He was a correspondent for the Herald Tribune ( European ? Paris ) and was a season trencherman. He grew up in New England and on a farm. he repeatedly said the best pork he had ever eaten cam from the pigs slaughtered in the fall after they ate up all the apples that fell from the trees and other culls from the home-made cider everybody made back then.

he claimed they had built in apple sauce.

Edited by rotuts (log)
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I am not completely a believer of food pairing.

A lot of food preferences are acquired food tastes.

Pork/Apple, duck/orange, lamb/mint, chicken/lemon ------------.

I have done them with various other fruits, kiwi, mango, pineapple, etc, they all taste just as good, if seasoned and cooked well.

dcarch

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I am not completely a believer of food pairing.

A lot of food preferences are acquired food tastes.

Pork/Apple, duck/orange, lamb/mint, chicken/lemon ------------.

I have done them with various other fruits, kiwi, mango, pineapple, etc, they all taste just as good, if seasoned and cooked well.

dcarch

This is part of my investigation though, maybe the fruits/foods that you substituted have similar molecular compounds...?
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Another new pairing is the potted Stilton cheese and dark chocolate, made famous by Heston Blumenthal. I've heard of strawberries and peas, or ketchup and banana – incidentally one of Beyonce’s pregnancy cravings... could be something in it... :laugh:

Sounds like an interesting thesis.

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Have you looked into some of the ancient through medieval medical beliefs that also caused foods to be paired? The idea of melon with prosciutto stems directly from early medicine. Melon was considered to be cold and wet and had to be balanced by hot and dry -- ergo, prosciutto. English food writer of last century, Elizabeth David, said that her mother into the 1950s wouldn't allow the family to eat melon without powdered ginger, for the same reason -- the "hot dry" ginger counteracted the "cold wet" dangers of the melon. Without the balance, you could get sick or even die.

This was the "humours" theory of medicine. There was also a theory that the level of where the food was grown influenced its effect on the body -- so melons, growing on the ground, were less healthful than, say, apples, which grew high up. I don't know whether this latter theory affected food pairings, but the humours theory definitely did.

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Have you looked into some of the ancient through medieval medical beliefs that also caused foods to be paired? The idea of melon with prosciutto stems directly from early medicine. Melon was considered to be cold and wet and had to be balanced by hot and dry -- ergo, prosciutto. English food writer of last century, Elizabeth David, said that her mother into the 1950s wouldn't allow the family to eat melon without powdered ginger, for the same reason -- the "hot dry" ginger counteracted the "cold wet" dangers of the melon. Without the balance, you could get sick or even die.

This was the "humours" theory of medicine. There was also a theory that the level of where the food was grown influenced its effect on the body -- so melons, growing on the ground, were less healthful than, say, apples, which grew high up. I don't know whether this latter theory affected food pairings, but the humours theory definitely did.

That's basically the yin/yan food pairing in Chinese cooking.

dcarch

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And, in thinking about the humoral theory of medicine, I bet that pork and apples were partly paired because pork was considered "hot" and apples "cold" -- but not sure about the dry and wet parts. I'll see if I can find anything.<br /><br />This article has a bit, but mostly has some good bibliographic references that may lead you to more:<br />http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/nutr216/ref/nutr216_ref/taboo_bougmil.html<br /><br />One source I just found says that pork was considered "hot" and "wet", which is why it needed to be roasted, to make it "dry" -- then combined with a "cold" ingredient, such as mustard or apple. Don't know how reliable that source is, though.<br /><br />Here's another good explanation of humourism and some foods and how they were classified.<br />http://blog.metmuseum.org/cloistersgardens/2012/07/27/cool-cooler-coolest/<br /><br />I'll dig around some more and see if I can find a chart of humors and food, to see if any more of your pairings reflect them.

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dcarch, on 23 Jun 2013 - 21:31, said:

SylviaLovegren, on 23 Jun 2013 - 21:23, said:

Have you looked into some of the ancient through medieval medical beliefs that also caused foods to be paired? The idea of melon with prosciutto stems directly from early medicine. Melon was considered to be cold and wet and had to be balanced by hot and dry -- ergo, prosciutto. English food writer of last century, Elizabeth David, said that her mother into the 1950s wouldn't allow the family to eat melon without powdered ginger, for the same reason -- the "hot dry" ginger counteracted the "cold wet" dangers of the melon. Without the balance, you could get sick or even die.

This was the "humours" theory of medicine. There was also a theory that the level of where the food was grown influenced its effect on the body -- so melons, growing on the ground, were less healthful than, say, apples, which grew high up. I don't know whether this latter theory affected food pairings, but the humours theory definitely did.

That's basically the yin/yan food pairing in Chinese cooking.

dcarch

Yes, Chinese medicine uses a humor theory, as does ayurvedic medicine -- the idea of balance. And apparently, Latin America still uses the humors -- which I just learned trying to google the humor theory on pork and apples. I have learned that pork is "hot" and "wet" but don't know about apples.
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I hope I'm not going to drive you crazy with this. Roast pork would be hot and and somewhat dry, because of the roasting. Apples are cool and wet, so they would balance out the pork. So, yes, I'm betting the pairing initially had something to do with their effect on the humoral system, not to mention they are both products of fall, and taste good together!

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The Flavor Bible seems to speak to what you're interested in. I don't own it and haven't read it, but it's a title that has intrigued me - but also made me a bit suspicious. It seems to be well reviewed by customers though.

You should promptly go out and get it :raz: . I have TONS of cookbooks/books on food, but if I could only keep one, the flavor bible would be it.

Edited by Twyst (log)
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There's this book that I was given as a gift but haven't done more then skim through it. http://www.amazon.com/Taste-Buds-Molecules-Science-Flavor/dp/1118141849/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372035858&sr=8-1&keywords=molecule+food

3. Roast Chicken + Corn + Parsley

Is corn a traditional european item? I thought it was north american.

Thank rob1234,

I have that book and it is excellent, and I am using it as part of my Lit. review.

As for the roast chicken & corn, it seems that it may be a common food pairing on both sides of the Atlantic since corn was introduced to Europe and used as a grain feed for chicken. (Cornfed chicken)

Thank you for your reply

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The Flavor Bible seems to speak to what you're interested in. I don't own it and haven't read it, but it's a title that has intrigued me - but also made me a bit suspicious. It seems to be well reviewed by customers though.

HI IndyRob,

I have the Flavor Bible and I will be going through it shortly with the view of using it as part of my Lit. review also

thanks

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I hope I'm not going to drive you crazy with this. Roast pork would be hot and and somewhat dry, because of the roasting. Apples are cool and wet, so they would balance out the pork. So, yes, I'm betting the pairing initially had something to do with their effect on the humoral system, not to mention they are both products of fall, and taste good together!

Hi SylviaLovegren,

Thank you for all your suggestions, and no you will not drive me crazy! :)

It seems that food pairing based on flavour similarities is more of a European/N.American way of combining foods and that S.American/Asian food pairing do not follow this trend but more the yin yang combinations

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/426217/flavour-networks-shatter-food-pairing-hypothesis/

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I have the Flavour thesaurus http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flavour-Thesaurus-Niki-Segnit/dp/0747599777/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372099610&sr=1-1&keywords=the+flavour+thesaurus which is quite good, but according to the reviews I read it was the bees knees. It isn't as comprehensive as I would have liked. I use it mostly for checking on something I might have in the cupboard/fridge and want different ideas of how to use it,.

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I have the Flavour thesaurus http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flavour-Thesaurus-Niki-Segnit/dp/0747599777/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372099610&sr=1-1&keywords=the+flavour+thesaurus which is quite good, but according to the reviews I read it was the bees knees. It isn't as comprehensive as I would have liked. I use it mostly for checking on something I might have in the cupboard/fridge and want different ideas of how to use it,.

I have that book too but it seems to be based on the authors opinion rather than on any scientific fact, which is ok but not exactly what I'm after

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Look at Flavornet, Volatile Compounds in Food Database. Also check www.thegoodscentscompany.com . Do a site search in Google for what you want to look for ( site:www.thegoodscentscompany.com [the foodstuff you want to search for])

Hi nickrey,

Thanks, I have been looking at Flavornet and VCF. I will check out the www.thegoodscentscompany.com site also.

Thanks you

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