Cooking made easy?

One of the simplest pleasures I get out of life is cooking and entertaining for friends. It should go without saying that I’m not much of a cook. Sure, I know how to make a handful of tasty meals, including a mean pizza, but compared with someone who does it for a living, well, let’s just say that the gap in skill level is noticeable.

But I love experimenting and trying new recipes and using said friends as guinea pigs. The process of cooking, actually preparing a meal is just endless fascinating. How to flavor profiles work together or opposed to one another? What about acidity in dishes to cut through certain flavors and balance them out? What about courses? I could go on forever. Sometimes I spend days perusing Food Network or Epicurious just looking for that next great meal.

The bonus is being able to do all of this in the company of friends and a glass of wine. Which is one of the reasons I got Jacob, aka The Wine Guy, to write so that I could learn all he has to offer.

I came across this site, Food Pairings, after scanning Kottke really quickly. I’m hooked. The site has created detailed maps of which foods go with other foods. You know when you’ve found something that you’ve always wanted but you didn’t know you were looking for it or even needed it? That’s how I’m feeling now, I don’t know how I’ve ever lived without it.

A list was made of 250 food products each with their major flavour components. By comparing the flavour of each food product eg strawberry with the rest of the food and their flavours, new combinations like strawberry with peas can be made. The way to use is, is just to select a food product like strawberries. You will get a plot where you have strawberry in the middle surrounded by other food products. Take one of those other food products and try to make a new recipe by combining those two. The more flavours food products have in common the shorter the distance between the food products.

A food product has a specific flavour because of a combination of different flavours. Like basil taste like basil because of the combination of linalool, estragol, ?. So if I want to reconstruct the basil flavour without using any basil, you have to search for a combination of other food products where one contains linalool (like coriander), one contains estragol (like tarragon),… So I can reconstruct basil by combining coriander, tarragon, cloves, laurel. The way to use it is to take from each branch of the plot one product and make a combination of those food products.

The science of cooking… now that should have been my college major… dang it.

Comments on this entry are closed.