Acquiring tastes

Beer_and_Chocolate.jpg Everone of a certain age enjoys a few foods, drinks, and other orally-injested substances that, when first tried, were simply unpalatable. Coffee is a good example of this, though maybe not the best example. More on that later. In any case, this class of substances is known as "acquired tastes." Most acquired tastes are bitter substances. We don't like bitter things because poisons are traditionally bitter. Poisons such as caffeine. After all, a tiny but of caffeine will easily kill a person. It's also one of the most addictive substances we know of. And yet, we love the stuff. What's wrong with us? The thing we know best about caffeine is that it provides us with some handy if imperfect benefits, like giving us something of a wakefulness boost. Conditioning being what it is, if we taste something that disagrees with us, followed by a pleasant sensation, then eventually we'll come to like what we tasted. I mentioned that coffee was not a perfect example of this, because coffee only tastes bad when it's prepared improperly. There us so much great flavor in coffee that the bitter should just be an underlying note. Which is, incidentally, another way that tastes are acquired. You taste something terrible, but sense another taste underneath that is really good. Conditioning happens again, until you not only look forward to the underlying taste, but the bitter taste as well. The photo accompanying this article is of a beer float, which combines a bitter stout beer from the Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC with a stout beer ice cream from the Ultimate Ice Cream Company. Depending on how you combine the ingredients, you'll often start with a bitter hit, then have that mellowed out by the ice cream. As you go on, you appreciate the dish more and more. It's a very quick way to acquire a taste.

They Go Really Well Together 11 Wrap Up: Banana and Cloves

Khymos.org has wrapped up its most recently flavor pairing challenge "They Go Really Well Together" (TGRWT) #11: Banana and Cloves. The TGRWT challenges are a general web challenge to create new dishes that use a non-traditional flavor pairing. I have not participated in the TGRWT challenges yet, but they're always fascinating. I wrote about them some in my post on Cooking Creatively. One of the great thing about TGRWT is that you're encouraged to post failures as well as successes, because it's a learning endeavor. We don't really know the best way to pair some of these new flavors, so rather than having to try it all yourself, let others show what they've done and give results. Then you'll know what went too far and what worked out well. As you can imagine, there are more than one banana bread in the bunch. There are also a couple of pork-based dishes. There are some desserts, and there is a martini. If you're looking for inspiration for a dish, try one of these, or try something based on the TGWRT challenges.

blog.khymos.org >> Blog Archive >> Foodpairing website launched

blog.khymos.org » Blog Archive>> Foodpairing website launched: " Groovy! Foodpairing website launched The long awaited website on foodpairings has now been launched, and they've also registred the corresponding blogspot name (which isn't online yet as of today). The beautiful photos, great design and easy maneuvering makes it an excellent place to start if you are looking for some new and perhaps surprising combinations of foods. The foods are grouped into categories such as cocoa (?), dairy, fruits, meat, sea food and vegetables. One of the vegetables listed is cauliflower, and clicking it reveals that the topic of TGRWT #7 (caramelized cauliflower and cocoa) is one of several possible combinations. This is how it is displayed (an important detail is that the shorter the distance between the names, the more flavours they have in common). As an added bonus interchangeable herbs and spices are also listed."

So, Obviously this is very cool. As mentioned on Khymos, it's a good place to start, and is certainly very interesting. If you read the full post, you'll see a couple of concerns with how well the pairings will work in some circumstances, depending on how significant the commonalities between the ingredients are. Naturally, I want more more more. I want to be able to click on, for example, cinnamon, see that it links to geranium, and then be able to click on geranium to see what that links to. I'd like to be able to select two items and see what other things they have in common and the relative strengths of the links. I want all of the food knowledge of the universe instantly downloaded into my brain so that I...oh, sorry. Got a little far in. Anyways, this is very cool, and I look forward to giving it a try.