Savory and sweet flavor combinations are all the rage. Adding pretzels and potato chips to chocolate and ice cream has never sounded more delicious to the public. Unusual flavor combinations are steadily gaining public affection, proposing a new challenge for chefs in developing food seasonings. For some, such as Heston Blumenthal, the chef of The Fat Duck, unusual flavor combinations is a science waiting to be fully discovered. The science of how to pair foods is based on the idea that combining ingredients with similar molecular makeup creates complementary and unusual flavor combinations. In 1999, before starting to profile different ingredients, Heston Blumenthal famously began pairing white chocolate with caviar, a balance of flavors invented from pure imagination. Since, chefs have been on the hunt for crazy, unusual, and delicious food combinations.
Cooking With Spices and Other Unusual Food Pairings
Spices can be used to contrast with other flavors in a dish to bring out certain components of the other ingredients. Heston Blumenthal’s flavor profiling experiment, for example, found that licorice flavor is a great complement to a salmon dish. Pastry chefs have begun adopting the unusual flavor combinations trend, with mixing chocolate and parmesan, chocolate and sea salt, just-opened oysters and passion-fruit, chocolate, basil, and passion-fruit, mandarin and thyme, strawberries and balsamic vinegar, adding bacon to maple donuts and other desserts, etc. Some may have taken the uses of different seasonings too far for menus. For example, many swear by bananas and ketchup. However, it is hard to imagine such a dish as a successful menu item. Thus chefs are faced with the challenge and pairing foods to make them gourmet, interesting, and full of sensory appeal. Types of spices and herbs can raise the level of a dish by adding interesting flavors to classic favorites. In middle-eastern cuisines, for example, cinnamon or mint often makes an appearance in meat kabobs, lamb, and stews. Spices and herbs and unusual flavor combinations can take an ordinary restaurant to exciting new levels, and give gourmet restaurants and even better name, by making their dishes dynamic for returning customers. The effects can have the opposite effect though, if the ideas for how to pair foods are taken too far.
Taking Risks With Types of Spices and Unusual Foods
As always, the importance of tasting dishes as they are being created is key when unusual flavor combinations are being used. However, when cooking with different spices and seasonings for the purpose of creating unusual foods, it is even more important for as many restaurant employees as possible to sample the dish, so that feedback from a wide range of taste preferences and palettes can be taken into account. What may seem delicious and revolutionary to the chef may be too weird to fathom and digest for the waiters, and the diners. By trial and error, mind-blowing unusual flavor combinations can come to fruition.