Go back
03 Apr 2023

A key to understanding the taste

How to combine the tastes correctly

Hello! Today we want to talk about foodpairing – how to combine tastes at work and in everyday life.

Did you ever ponder why some dishes taste fantastic to us and terrible for others? Why some textures are noticeable and others are not?

Food is the only thing that incorporates all of our senses. When we say that we like something, it mostly means we like how it smells rather than tastes. It is evaluated that the taste itself, the senses of our tongue, constitute only 20% of the tasting experience, and 80% is connected to the aroma. Our tongue has about 9000 taste buds that identify sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. To compare, we have about 5-10 millions of cells and buds that identify smell. There are about 1000 different smell buds and they allow us to identify more than 10000 different smells!

Knowing that the aroma of the product is very important in terms of how we perceive it, we have a theory that if basic volatile molecules are the same, they can be tasted perfectly when consumed together.

Foodpairing ensures possible combinations of food that are based exclusively on intrinsic characteristics of various foods, they are based on aromatic connections that are present in foods. This leads to innovative combinations that are not limited by the cultural and traditional food context. This independency sometimes leads to surprising and unusual taste combinations.

Based on this assumption, Heston Blumenthal created many absolutely amazing combinations, for example:

  • White chocolate and caviar (trimethylamine)
  • Strawberry and coriander
  • Strawberry, celery leaves, and mint
  • Mango and pine extract
  • Green pepper milk and beet
  • Snail and beet
  • Chocolate and pink pepper
  • Carrot and purple onion
  • Carrot and coriander seeds
  • Mango and purple onion
  • Pineapple, blue cheese, white wine
  • Caramelized cauliflower and cocoa
  • Liver and jasmine
  • Cooked cheese (like Parmesan and Gruyère) and honey (with a chestnut tint)
  • Banana and parsley
  • Banana and clove
  • Harissa (chili paste) and dried apricot
  • Chocolate and smoked eel (perhaps even other smoked tastes?)
  • Chocolate and meat
  • Coffee, cooked meat, popcorn, canned tuna, roasted white sesame seeds and yeast extracts 
  • Garlic, coffee, and chocolate. Garlic and chocolate have nothing in common, but both have something in common with coffee
  • Salmon and licorice
  • Oyster and passion fruit

Combinations that may have a shared molecular base:

  • Chocolate and cumin (or: sauerkraut, aquavit, etc.)
  • Chocolate and sage
  • Chocolate and tobacco
  • Chocolate and red wine
  • Parsnip, pear, and vanilla
  • Stuffed meat and caramel
  • Apple and lavender
  • Onion, cinnamon, olives, and caramel,
  • Cocoa and mushrooms
  • Stilton and rhubarb
  • Nut and nutmeg
  • Honey / caramel and truffles
  • Cranberry and pistachio
  • Olives, dried figs, and brie 
  • Onion, garlic, and coffee
  • Chestnut and praline
  • Tomatoes and strawberry
  • Potato, coffee, and capers

They key odorants and essential to creating a taste profile of the product. The aroma profile then compared with the database of the other products. Products that contain aromatic components are preserved along with the original ingredient. These products can be combined with the original ingredient. Based on this information, a tree of food combinations is created.

This way, the essence of foodpairing is the pactice of combining different products that have the same basic aroma components – odorants. 

If you are interested in the topic of foodpairing and you want to try original combinations in your work or everyday food, we recommend you this resource: https://www.foodpairing.com/ Here you can find materials on how to work with specific products and how to create a taste combination tree on your own to use later. 

I wish you luck in mastering confectionery and culinary art!