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Cooking is an art and it is something one simply has a natural flair for. However, a candy scientist would most likely tell you that one has to understand the molecular structure of the ingredients to create a perfect product. It is believed that human ancestors may have invented cooking as far back as 1.8 million to 2.3 million years ago. Cooking can definitely be better understood as a science, but there is no way to extract the creativity from it.
The visual aspect of cooking lends itself to art. It is creativity that allows for such a flavor combination and it is science that allows the combination to create a wonderful flavor. Regional cuisines exhibit great cultural diversities. Food is attached in so many ways to culture, and foodservice often overflows cultures to blend into others. The fusion of cuisines and the importing and exporting of concepts, ideas, and ingredients help to create a diverse culinary landscape. Cuisines evolve continually, and new cuisines are created by innovation and cultural interaction.
The great diversity exhibited by culinary practices raises the question of whether there are any general patterns that ascertain the ingredient combinations used in food today or principles that surpass individual tastes and recipes. Compared to tremendous potential recipes, only a small number of recipes with frequent occurrence of particular combinations are used in regional cuisines. This indicates that we are exploiting only a tiny fraction of the potential combinations. This strongly suggests the need of an organizing principle that, in recipe terms, sorts the wheat from the chaff.
The background to this project is the hypothesis of food pairing developed by the chefs Francois Benzi and Heston Blumenthal. The food pairing method is designed to inspire chef, foodies, home cooks and food engineers. The method aids recipe design and provides new possible food combinations, which are theoretically sound on the basis of their flavor. Food pairing provides possible food combinations, which are solely based on the intrinsic properties of the different food products, they are based on the flavor compounds which are present in the products. This results in possible combinations that are innovative and are not influenced or restricted by cultural and traditional context of the products.
This independence occasionally results in surprising and unusual combinations, for example: endives in a dessert, white chocolate and caviar, chocolate and cauliflower. Even as they are unusual, these combinations are quite tasty, because the combined food products have flavor components in common. The food pairing methodology opens a whole new world of possible food combinations.
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