The Art and Science of Foodpairing: 10,000 flavour matches that will transform the way you eat

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10,000 flavor matches that will transform the way you eat.

What is foodpairing? It is not the familiar and mundane matching of wine and food or even food and food, but it is certainly all about creating the most delicious culinary results possible.

When humans taste a food, they are processing its taste 80 percent through the nose — via the food’s aromatic molecules — and only 20 percent on the tongue. We can conclude then that knowing the aromatic molecular properties of a food is critical to pairing foods successfully for ultimate taste.

For a long time, we have been unknowingly pairing aromatic molecules out of instinct, cultural history, tradition, and plain guesswork. Many of those are routine and make sense but others are counterintuitive, like balsamic vinegar on strawberries. We like them because they are delicious. What we didn’t know is that they work because they share aromatic molecules. With this new knowledge we have discovered unheard-of pairings like chocolate on cauliflower and kiwi with oyster. So how do we use this new science? We at home don’t have the technology to isolate molecules or store the results in a database.

That’s where The Art and Science of Foodpairing® comes in. From the scientists and chefs who discovered this new culinary science, and the company that created and maintains the enormous database, here is a fabulous reference to 10,000 food pairings for use in both professional and home kitchens. Foodpairing® has proven to be revolutionary: When the Foodpairing® database went live, the chef and restaurant community came on like a storm with 100,000 website hits on the first day. Now over 200,000 chefs and restaurants in 140 countries regularly access the database when designing their menus.

The Art and Science of Foodpairing® provides 10,000 flavor matches laid out in taste wheels and color keys. When cooks go to one ingredient, they will find 10 food pairings and a color wheel revealing the taste results. For example, boiled beets will taste less like the earth they grew in and more like cheese if they are paired with coffee, and cauliflower sprinkled with cocoa could turn the fussiest child into a veggie fiend.

Foodpairing® has the potential to transform our food choices with outcomes that include good health as well as the power to alleviate boredom. The same dinner, the same staples. We get bored, our children get bored. Foodpairing®, even without adding anything new to the pantry, can alleviate that.

Beginning with an in-depth introduction and the story of Foodpairing®, the book contains:

  • Foodpairing® – What it is, how it works, methodology; the database; how to create a well-balanced recipe.
  • The omnivore’s dilemma – Including the conflict between playing safe and boredom, and the search for variety and novelty; learned food association; acquired tastes.
  • Aroma – Including the importance of aroma to our flavor experience; how we change aromas by cooking; how ingredients create different or similar results; building your aroma library.
  • Smell – Including how people smell and perceive aromas; why smell is essential to the eating experience.
  • The Foodpairing® directory – 10 pairings per food, 10 per cooking method, 10,000 combinations in total.
  • The book also covers key food characteristics, aroma profiles, classic dishes, contemporary combinations, scientific explanations, special features and contributions from some of the world’s greatest chefs for the top 150 ingredients, and much more.

    The Art and Science of Foodpairing® is destined to become the essential reference to creating delicious, exciting and perfectly balanced meals.

    From the Publisher


    The Art & Science of Foodpairing

    10,000 flavor matches that will transform the way you eat

    by Peter Coucquyt, Bernard Lahousse, and Johan Langenbick

    From the Introduction:

    Some ingredient pairings may appear peculiar at first, but only because we lack prior references. Consider Oaxcan mole negro, an intensely flavorful sauce served with chicken, in which chocolate is a key ingredient. In Japan, China and Korea, red adzuki beans are mashed to a paste, sweetened and turned into various sweet confections and desserts, while Italians drizzle balsamic vinegar over their gelato.

    It just goes to show that there is no right or wrong way to pair ingredients. Whether we are comfortable winging it in the kitchen or prefer to stick to recipes, most of the ingredient pairings we encounter are intuitive. That’s not a bad thing, but intuitive pairings are generally limited to familiar combinations, based either on our personal preferences or on classic pairings with some cultural basis. This is why many of us grow bored of our own cooking. But once you look beyond the confines of your own kitchen, you will find an infinite number of potential pairings just waiting to be explored.

    Since launching in 2007, Foodpairing has partnered with noted chefs, bartenders and brands from around the globe on some of the most exciting projects ever tasted. In this book, we will guide you through the history and science of Foodpairing and explain why unusual pairings like kiwi and oyster actually work. We will explore the world of aromas and discuss their significance in the role of recipe creation, and how scents are detected and perceived as flavors by our brains. You will learn to use recipe-building tools and gain insights that only the world’s top chefs have had access to until now. This book is designed to inspire food and drink pairings that will surprise, delight and impress.


    Heston Blumenthal, The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire

    “Foodpairing (or flavor pairing, as I usually call it) is now such a familiar part of the culinary landscape you might think it has always been there. In fact, though, it didn’t exist at all until the 1990s, when I started exploring whether there might be some underlying reason why certain food combinations worked so well together. At this stage, no other chefs were looking into this, nor was there any obvious route to follow – I was guided by my instincts and my curiosity, piecing things together as best I could.

    One key step came from talking to friends of mine [in the scientific community]. I noticed that, if I asked them about particular combinations of ingredients, they often consulted a database called Volatile Compounds in Food (VCF) to see if they had compounds in common.

    I began to get very excited about this. Although such technology was used not by chefs but by food companies and chemical manufacturers, I reckoned it would work in the kitchen just as well as the lab. I could use it to find all sorts of wonderful and unexpected flavor pairings, in part because I had already been working with another authoritative source of reference: Steffen Arctander’s book Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin. By cross-referencing one against the other, I reasoned I could take an ingredient such as [a] cherry, check its constituent compounds and then find other ingredients that shared those compounds and might thus complement it.

    And so flavor pairing was born, as much out of my naivety as my curiosity and enthusiasm. For I soon came to realize that the molecular profile of even a single ingredient is so complex that, even if it shares plenty of compounds with another ingredient, it’s far from guaranteed that they will work together.

    Foodpairing, therefore, is a wonderful tool for creativity, but only when used in concert with a chef’s intuition, imagination and – above all – emotion. It’s a great starting point but you still need to explore, try things out and, of course, taste constantly.”

    Aroma wheels describe the unique aroma profiles of foods







    Dark chocolate

    Chocolate is a sweet, satisfying blend of roasted, nutty, caramel flavors, with trace amounts of natural stimulants like caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamide.

    Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate is complex and bitter, with a pronounced flavor profile made up of fruity, floral, roasted, caramel, spicy and woody notes. In some cases, you may even detect green aromatic notes of oat flakes or a vegetal bell-pepper-like nuance. These vegetal links allow for some unexpected pairings, like chocolate with asparagus, beetroot, bell peppers, broccoli, butternut squash, cucumbers, parsnips, peas, potatoes and tomatoes – imagine a smooth, creamy chocolate mousse accompanied by fresh strawberries and sweet roasted red bell peppers.


    Blueberries have a delicately sweet, fruity flavor, and bluish-purple anthocyanins give them a healthy antioxidant boost. Maturity at harvest is the most important factor when it comes to the quality and flavor of blueberries since neither can be improved once the fruit has been picked.

    The floral, citrusy flavor of blueberries comes from the molecules geraniol and citronellol. In this concentration, the floral-scented geraniol molecules take on a fruity nuance, while the citronellol adds a citrusy touch. The floral, rose-like scents of blueberries pair beautifully with lychee, apple, raspberry, tomato and beetroot. The berries’ distinct citrus scent provides a natural link to oranges, lemongrass, fresh coriander, bay leaves, huacatay (Peruvian black mint) and certain gins.

    Spanish chorizo

    It is no surprise that the flavorful seasonings in chorizo make up much of its aroma profile. In the case of Spanish chorizo, smoked paprika gives the meat an intensely smoky, phenolic character, together with green and vegetal bell-pepper-like notes. Meanwhile, its roasted notes have a meaty nuance, while ingredients like garlic and onions add their own sulphurous aroma molecules to the mix.

    We also find acids and other fruity aroma descriptors and floral notes in Spanish chorizo that are derived from the fermentation process and the degradation of lipids. Fruity peach and coconut lactones may be a result of either the smoking process or the oxidation of lipids.