University of Auckland

Molecular gastronomy cooks up strange plate-fellows

Posted by Admin on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 Under: Taste

Controversial theory of flavor pairing seeks to illuminate why foods go together well

Some foods taste good together, and others don’t. It’s a simple observation rooted in the complex biochemistry of human senses. During the past decade, an idea about why this is the case has been making the rounds among chefs, flavor chemists, and food scientists.

Flavour-pairing theory inspires avant-garde dishes, such as caramelized cauliflower with cocoa jelly.

The idea, which has several names but is often called flavor-pairing theory, is that foods that share important flavor compounds are likely to make a good pair. It has spurred a culinary movement and a company dedicated to helping the pros discover innovative pairings through chemistry. However, the concept is still in its infancy, and it’s not without vociferous criticism. Some critics tell C&EN that hard data supporting the idea are lacking and that taste is too complicated to boil down to a molecular rule of thumb. Other critics are more direct, as network analysis expert Maurits de Klepper of Amsterdam University College is in decrying flavor pairing as “a European fad” (Gastronomica, DOI: 10.1525/gfc.2012.11.4.55).


Original citation: Drahl, C. (2012). Molecular Gastronomy Cooks Up Strange Plate-Fellows, Chemical and Engineering News, 90, 25, p. 37-40.

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Tags: "flavour-pairing"  "molecular gastronomy"  flavour