Cooking is science and tradition

Cooking is all about science. In this blog our chef Peter Coucquyt will give you insights in the chemistry going on in the kitchen...

dinsdag 11 januari 2011


Have you ever thought about the fact that some ingredients goes very well together and other combinations are bad?
When we say that tastes good, we mostly talk about how something smells rather than tastes. One has discovered that 20% of what we sense when eating is taste and 80% is aroma. Our tongue has about 9000 taste buds detecting tastes as sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami. Meanwhile we have between 5 to 10 million cells that can absorb aromas in the nose. We are able to distinguish more than 10000 different odors. This science is the base of Foodpairing
What is Foodpairing?
In the early nineties Heston Blumenthal was working on reducing the bitterness of dark chocolate by adding salty ingredients such as cured ham, anchovies, aged cheese, blue cheese and caviar. By tasting the combination of chocolate and caviar, he was surprised about the perfect match. He asked a friend, Francois Benzi of Firminch to do analyses on the chocolate and the caviar. They found that chocolate and caviar have major flavour molecules in common. At that moment they hypothesized if we find ingredients or drinks with major flavour molecules in common, we could combine them in a dish or drink.
In 2004 Sense for Taste took the initiative to research the fundamentals of this hypothesis, what we now refer to as Foodpairing. Over the last five years, we have created a database containing more than 1000 ingredients with their corresponding flavour profile
The Foodpairing process starts with a flavour analysis of a product. Once the flavour components of a product have been analysed, they are compared to a database of several hundreds other food and drink types. Products with flavour components in common are retained. The results are then represented graphically on a Foodpairing tree, a visual aid for chefs and cocktail makers indicating which ingredients match from a flavour perspective. The shorter the branch, the better the match to the choose product or drink.
More info and Foodpairing trees on
The following dishes, made by the students are based on foodpairing.

Yoghurt soup, milk chocolate mousse, pickled pumpkin, pumpkin croquant, orange, yoghurt meringue and granite of pumpkin and orange.
Pumpkin has major flavour molecules in common with milk chocolate, orange and yoghurt
Flexible chocolate ganache, popcorn ice, roasted sesame croquant, coffee cream, crumble of coffee and chocolate, passion fruit caramel and a mango sphere.
In this example we made some “bridges”. Some ingredients don’t have flavour components in common. Therefore you should search a third ingredient containing major flavour molecules of both other ingredients. Roasted sesame has major flavour components in common with popcorn and mango while popcorn has also flavour components in common with chocolate and coffee. By using popcorn you can combine chocolate and coffee with the roasted sesame
Pomegranate, goose liver ganache, smoked eel, beetroot, red wine vinegar gel.
An other example of making “bridges”, where we started with pomegranate, who has major flavour molecules in common with beetroot and smoked eel, while the eel has also flavour components in common with the goose liver.

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