How chemicals give food its taste


London - Canapes of roast cauliflower dipped in chocolate or stilton spread with rhubarb could be on the menu for cocktail parties, if food scientists have their way.

A team in the US has investigated the chemical links between popular food combinations, such as strawberries and cream.

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Some food groups have few flavour links, so are unlikely to be the source of new exotic combinations.

They discovered we often combine ingredients that contain the same flavour compounds — the chemicals that give food its taste.

This may be why we like cocktails with berries or citrus but not carrots because fruit and alcohol share many of the same chemicals.

Some food groups — such as mushrooms, fish and nuts — have few flavour links, so are unlikely to be the source of new exotic combinations.

But other foods have strong chemical connections that don’t often appear in recipes.

Coffee is one ingredient that shares flavour compounds with many foods.

So it is little surprise that coffee-rubbed cheeseburgers with Texas barbecue sauce has appeared in foodie bible Bon Appetit magazine.

Chocolate — another key ingredient that shares many flavour compounds with other products — is increasingly being used in savoury dishes by those looking for a startling food combination.

Braised pigeons in chocolate sauce or even chicken and chocolate (a recipe in the new Gu cookbook) are no longer thought of as weird.

After this chemical food link discovery, surely top cooks are already busy creating recipes for such delights as adding lapsang souchong tea to tomato-based dishes, sprinkling vegetables with extract of violet or adding honey to seaweed. - Daily Mail

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