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Books about flavor combinations and taste


leviathan
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I find most cookbooks rather hapazard in this regard, where they don't really explain why they're using specific ingredients. For a recipe with 20 ingredients, I'd like to understand the process of why they needed all 20 ingredients, and how they came up with those specific 20 ingredients. I'd like to know what would happen if I didn't use one of those ingredients, or if I substituted another ingredient. Sometimes, there might be a small blurb with the recipe that mentions that they used a specific ingredient, but then its just so completely random.

I guess I'm looking for more of a theory book about this topic, and don't necessairly care about recipes. It would be great if the book started out by laying down its ideas, and then used the recipes to illustrate those concepts.

So far, I've found several books that sound like they might help me in this regard:

Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page

The Elements of Taste by Gary Kunz

Secret Ingredients: The Magical Process of Combining Flavors by Michael Roberts

Kitchen Conversations by Joyce Goldstein

Has anybody read these books? I'd like to get some opinions about them before I order them. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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I find most cookbooks rather hapazard in this regard, where they don't really explain why they're using specific ingredients. For a recipe with 20 ingredients, I'd like to understand the process of why they needed all 20 ingredients, and how they came up with those specific 20 ingredients. I'd like to know what would happen if I didn't use one of those ingredients, or if I substituted another ingredient. Sometimes, there might be a small blurb with the recipe that mentions that they used a specific ingredient, but then its just so completely random.

I guess I'm looking for more of a theory book about this topic, and don't necessairly care about recipes. It would be great if the book started out by laying down its ideas, and then used the recipes to illustrate those concepts.

So far, I've found several books that sound like they might help me in this regard:

Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page

The Elements of Taste by Gary Kunz

Secret Ingredients: The Magical Process of Combining Flavors by Michael Roberts

Kitchen Conversations by Joyce Goldstein

Has anybody read these books? I'd like to get some opinions about them before I order them. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I love Culinary Artistry, for just this reason. I have depended on it a good deal, both as a reference and a launching point.

I have not read it, but have heard wonderful things about The Elements of Taste. Reminds me - its on my Amazon cart...

Edited by paul o' vendange (log)

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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I find most cookbooks rather hapazard in this regard, where they don't really explain why they're using specific ingredients. For a recipe with 20 ingredients, I'd like to understand the process of why they needed all 20 ingredients, and how they came up with those specific 20 ingredients. I'd like to know what would happen if I didn't use one of those ingredients, or if I substituted another ingredient. Sometimes, there might be a small blurb with the recipe that mentions that they used a specific ingredient, but then its just so completely random.

I guess I'm looking for more of a theory book about this topic, and don't necessairly care about recipes. It would be great if the book started out by laying down its ideas, and then used the recipes to illustrate those concepts.

So far, I've found several books that sound like they might help me in this regard:

Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page

The Elements of Taste by Gary Kunz

Secret Ingredients: The Magical Process of Combining Flavors by Michael Roberts

Kitchen Conversations by Joyce Goldstein

Has anybody read these books? I'd like to get some opinions about them before I order them. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I don't have the Goldstein book, but I own the others you mentioned.

Some other suggestions include Flavor by Rocco DiSpirito (yeah, that Rocco). I actually think it's not a bad book, and have opined as much a couple of times here on egullet. It includes a decent list/chart of which flavours might be slotted into the salty/ sour/ bitter/ sweet categories, and talks a bit about how he develops (developed I guess now) recipes.

Taste by Sybill Kapoor is a British book that came out a couple of years ago, and has a bunch of recipes divided into sections on salty, sour, bitter and sweet (and maybe spicy too?) which build around an ingredient that is categorized as predominantly salty or sour or bitter or sweet, and then discusses how the recipe uses that predominant flavour, but also how the addition of salt, or sugar, for example affects it. Interesting book - but I've cooked very little from it. Keep meaning to come back to it to see if I agree with what she is saying. One weird thing about it to me - her focus is solely on what is sensed by the mouth and tongue. She doesn't deal directly with aroma, which is of course incredibly important to how we taste things. Some ingredients less often seen across the pond - samphire (?).

There's another British one that also might be of interest to you. I recall that the author was a Thai chef and catered Jamie Oliver's wedding. I remember all that. The name of the book? Alas, it eludes me. Will try and look it up over the next few days.

Of the three I mentioned, I think the Kapoor one most closely adheres to what you are looking for.

And, I think Culinary Artistry is a good read - but it is just skimming the surface of what you're looking for. Kunz's book I like as well, but it is definitely a chef's cookbook - well, I suppose Roberts' is as well, although the recipes are less "chefy". Or is it just that the edition I have is not the big, glossy coffee table book that Kunz's is?

In any event, I started a thread on much the same topic, well who knows how long ago? I don't recall what it turned up, if anything.

Well, if nothing else, there's a couple more ideas for you. The Kapoor book is out in paperback, so it's not too spendy. Rocco's can probably be found in cutout bins - I do think it's actually worth a look.

Good luck with your search.

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

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here's another British one that also might be of interest to you. I recall that the author was a Thai chef and catered Jamie Oliver's wedding. I remember all that. The name of the book? Alas, it eludes me. Will try and look it up over the next few days.

Tom Kime catered the Thai meal Geoff referred to and his book is called "Exploring Taste and Flavour"

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here's another British one that also might be of interest to you. I recall that the author was a Thai chef and catered Jamie Oliver's wedding. I remember all that. The name of the book? Alas, it eludes me. Will try and look it up over the next few days.

Tom Kime catered the Thai meal Geoff referred to and his book is called "Exploring Taste and Flavour"

That's the one!

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

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