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Why do certain food combinations work and others don't?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Hello,h 

 

I just joined this forum and I've got a question, to which I by myself am not capable to find an answer (pardon my english, I'm german):

 

Why is it, that Gorgonzola and pears go so well together, while p.e. ground meat and pinapple absolutely don't? Both are highly umami vs. highly sweet. So: What's the (neurological/aesthitical/sensory/...) difference? 

 

I'm really looking forward to your answers, thanks in advance.

 

 

Regards

post #2 of 29
Thread Starter 

Is there literally noone who could help me out with this question? Regards

post #3 of 29

I honestly think it depends on preferance, food species, cultural diferences, and likes/dislikes. 

For instance you said ground beef and pineapple don´t go well. 

 

But i could easily give you 2 or 3 recipes with those exact ingredients and they will work spendidly together. The sweet acid from the fruit with the right seasoning on the pork will works wonders. If you go to Taiwan you most likely would find plenty of recipes involving fruit and pork and sweetness fusing with the savory aspects of many dishes. 

 

The problem is that everyone was brough up differently, has different cultural backgrounds and preferences. 

For instance a huge number of the worlds population likes cheese.... 

I hate cheese, i could never eat just a raw cube of cheese unless it was to mix with something or it was some kind of godly cheese that tasted amazing (just an example). 

 

I believe the reason why some things won´t mix well for some people is simply because of preference and and other factors. To be honest food is food and it can all be mixed and eaten together if there is something binding them. 

You honestly cant chop a pickle and mix it with raw apple, eat it and hope it tastes good, but im sure some chef out there has made the combination, used certain spices and cooking methods and ate it or served it and it was great or at least decent tasting. 

 

This reminds me way back of a Top Chef Episode, i believe it was season 4. 

One of the contestants Richard Blaise, made salmon served with white chocalate wasabi and tapioca pearls. I remember he won that challenge and was praised for the dish. If i was to make it that same dish im sure it would taste awkward, but he made it, he had an idea and concept of how he wanted it done and how he wanted it to taste, and thus it tasted great (at least from the judges point of view). 

 

Food is food, you can mix it, stack it, blend it, sauce it, cook it, etc.... but you need to have a basic idea of how you want the end result to be and how to reach that objetive or else the conclusion can and will be disasterous. 

 

Just so you have an idea right now im working on playing around with a beet and sweet strawberry ice cream, im still thinking on how its gonna be done, but after playing around with it a few times im sure it will be killer. 

 

Food has its complexity and its not just as simple as mixing a few things together with no knowledge of how some of the ingrediants taste and effect the dish that will simply give you an amazing result, experimenting may give you a lucky and tasty end result, but its not so simple as just throwing anything with anything and hoping it works out without having a concept in mind. 

 

I remember a chef of mine told me a story on how when she was working in Italy a few cooks were giving her trouble for being a female cook. Anyway these cooks decided to make barbaque sauce and f*cked it up big time. My chef (a simple cook at the time) had an idea on how to fix the ruined barbeque sauce, no one believed her that it was going to work or be salavaged but she proved them wrong. She made the bbq sauce and fixed it using nothing more then a Coca Cola...

It ended up being some godly bbq sauce. 

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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post #4 of 29

There could be some hidden health correlations between food pairings. I'm kind of an idealist (or pragmatist?) and think that the body likes what's good for the body. Of course, then comes the soul and makes a big mess about everything.

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post #5 of 29

Hi,

since you mentioned Umami, I would definitely do some research into the Yin and Yang of foods.

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post #6 of 29

@KaiqueKuisine made the relevant points already. Just an addendum from the chemical/physiological side: The food pairings originally mentioned may be both heavy in umami/sweet, but that by no means is the finally definition of their taste. There is a whole load of volatile compounds relevant to the taste in those ingredients, e.g. short-chain fatty acids in the cheese, fruit esters in the pear and so on. Those are far more relevant for the pairing than the basic tastes.

post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ordo View Post
 

There could be some hidden health correlations between food pairings. I'm kind of an idealist (or pragmatist?) and think that the body likes what's good for the body. Of course, then comes the soul and makes a big mess about everything.

 

That's a rather problematic point. The body likes what is good for a hunter-gatherer body with uncertain food supply. That's how we evolved. So your body will happily tell you to stuff it with fatty and sugary goodness, because that is high-calory stuff that will get you through the next week of failed hunting. The body does, unfortunately, not know about supermarkets yet.

post #8 of 29

Since many years now, a Belgian scientist gives us more insight on food pairing. He has a busy website where chefs can enter a product and get an area of other ingredients that will match perfectly with the chosen product. In the chart below, the search item was "chicken". This is how matches with other ingredients are presented. Many high ranking restaurants all over the world use this website that reveals stunning foodpairings; can you believe that oysters and white chocolate are a perfect match? Well, it is and it has been proven too!

 

 

The whole thing is more or less based on aromas, smells. When analyzing aromas in a lab, they discovered that the more similar aroma molecules were present, the more ingredients match. After all, taste is more than 80%... smell. From then on, it's simply a matter of analyzing each and every possible food item.

 

But, if you want to learn more, check out the website; http://www.foodpairing.com/en/home

post #9 of 29
Ground meat and pineapple don't pair?....Don't tell my pork burger with grilled pineapple....

Sometimes ingredients "going together" is not even so much like a magical pairing, but and exercise in contrasts, texture, and proportionality. Sometimes two ingredients work really well together because of a third "bridging" element, like seasoning or spice.
post #10 of 29
Afterthought:

Your second question is actually the more interesting. As cooks we are constantly trying to make things taste good, or "work." We really don't spend a lot of time thinking about "bad" food. Looking at combinations that dont work may actually be quite interesting. Off the top of my head, tropical fruits and mushrooms seems like a bad idea. And because of that, I can't say that I have even tried to make them sing together. That's not to say its impossible...
post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanMcPherson View Post

Ground meat and pineapple don't pair?....Don't tell my pork burger with grilled pineapple....
 

Ground meat or not, IMO pine apple and pork or chicken go very well together, let's say "white meat" matches pine apple.

A combo of red meat like beef and pine apple? Again, maybe it's just me, but IMO that doesn't go together at all. Why? Maybe it's the acidity of pine apple that doesn't work with red meat?

post #12 of 29

ChrisBelgium,

  I think it matters in what part of the world you'r in and what you're used to. Asia and especially Polynesia have pared pineapple with beef. It actually is one of the better tenderizers for beef.

I think a lot of all this research and findings are ok for one generalized palate but I'm not sold on it.

  I sit on a research panel a couple of times a month. Quite often there are unusual pairings. Without fail at discussion time 20-30 percent will disagree on outcome. Just sayin

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post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by WarrenAnname View Post
 

------- Why is it, that Gorgonzola and pears go so well together, while p.e. ground meat and pinapple absolutely don't? Both are highly umami vs. highly sweet. So: What's the (neurological/aesthitical/sensory/...) difference? --------

 

Regards

 

There is no such thing "food pairing" IMHO. I know, I will be the laughing stock on this Forum.

 

Gorgonzola and pears pairing will make many people from other cultures puke, and v.s.

 

Thousand year eggs and pickled ginger, you like?

 

I think tastes in flavors are mostly aquired. 

 

Food pairing must also consider the texture component. What do you think of Gorgonzola and pears smoothie? How about ice cream that is not frozen? Same flavor, right?

 

dcarch

post #14 of 29

In recent years we've seen more and more "questionable" items be paired and personally, my jury actually has come in. Pineapple combined with meat like chicken, beef or pork does seem to fly mostly because I can wrap my mind around Polynesian or some Asian cuisine and it is a heck of a tenderizer like @panini mentioned. Even some Southern US influences have pineapple with ham or pork chops. Unfortunately, I'm not certain I would go for white chocolate and chicken even with someone telling me I can. Basically, I also don't buy into the whole Bacon and Chocolate revolution although I do enjoy candied bacon.

 

My thought tends to lean this way.......just because it works, doesn't mean it should be combined. Follows the same line of just because you can, doesn't mean you need to and not all good business decisions are good for business. I guess that's where I've drawn my line in the sand.

 

In a more grass roots point of view.......has anyone considered this being a consequence of our palettes being trained (more pushed if you eat anything involving the mainstream) this way in the last 10 years? Salty, sweet, spicy and sour all seem to be in in permanent overload everywhere you look.

 

Edit below and an apology if I repeat anything that's already been mentioned but I have been trying to complete a thought about the question I have been mulling over most of the night.

 

It's odd, in a way, we have both pears and Bleu Cheese (not gorgonzola) in the house frequently while at the same time, we keep beef and pineapple in one form or another not to mention so many other ingredients. I eat the pear and bleu cheese combined with walnuts and some other things. The pineapple, in juice form is frequently mixed with soy sauce, lime juice, cumin, garlic and pepper for a beef marinade. Mostly, as an attempt in trying to expand the DD's taste buds. She absolutely will not eat a pear but loves bleu cheese (gorgonzola too) and given some of her diet needs lately finding suitable choices and combinations can be more difficult if you aren't wrapped up in the whole creative process day in and day out. Lately, I've been almost apologetic to my family and guests for loosing some of my creative edge but it's only a natural course if you can't eat that way at the same rate. I know the quality remains high but I've settled into more of a routine of comfort and health.

 

It's been so very long since I had to think about the reasoning behind why with taste combinations. Some things are what they are due to tradition and what we were raised on in the business on. I can remember discussions about acids, flavor structure or profile, texture, etc, etc. Big fan of cheese and fruit as they seem to work seamlessly, most of the time. Trouble is with more the complex proteins in meats, I remember it being more than just throwing chocolate on something and discovering a new food. Unfortunately, the discussion sort of looses it's ground for me here because of time passed. I guess the best way to sum it up is this. I haven't seen the movie yet but a line in a commercial really hits home along those lines. I think it goes something like......... She comments "It's a 200 year old recipe?" and he comments "Isn't 200 years long enough?" 

 

Now to expand on my line in the sand..........

 

While I try not to throw something out the window because it's new, I'm just very hesitant to look at it with taste buds willing. I believe the creative process has a great deal to do with flavor memory. It has to be tasted in the mind first and then put to the plate. It's like when I explained the two scallop dishes in the Pro forum. I haven't tasted those dishes in more than 15 years yet I could taste each component in my mind as I typed it out just as if the last time was yesterday. That said, sometimes the flavor memory is telling me no when I hear of a combination because I've thought it through in my mind.

 

Hope that made sense.


Edited by oldschool1982 - 8/2/14 at 9:02pm
post #15 of 29

Oldschool, hey!

You're right. The old saying about creating a recipe or formula is that if you research it far and back enough it has been done.

I don't know if de-construction, disemboweling is the way to go. Going way out to the right. Pairing not so common ingredients

either.

I feel the simple fact is that most of the industry is going to become mediocre at best. I now hunt Chef's. So as not to encounter "questionable".

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post #16 of 29

Speaking of gorgonzola. . . 

 

I just had gorgonzola and pear ice cream. Half of us liked it, the other half hated it. 

 

I agree with dcarch. Flavor pairings are a matter of culture and experience. I didn't start drinking coffee until I was 26. Mostly because I was only exposed to american drip coffee. Only when I got my hands on an espresso machine did I understand what coffee really was. This was long before "coffee" became a business as it is today - in this country anyway. 

 

You can acquire tastes for things through repetition or constant exposure. As far as food parings goes - it's almost like the Oxford English Dictionary. Word definitions are far from an exact science. It's the frequency of usage that defines words. Acceptable or desired food parings are the most likely combinations that are used in a certain cultures, over time. Then they get perfected in a way that accentuates what one is accustomed to. 

 

On the other hand, ketchup researchers develop the taste of ketchup to equally highlight every taste bud in your mouth. Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. This is why those that are forced to eat what they don't like (i.e. kids) slather the food in ketchup to drown out any other flavor. I guess food parings are like using an equalizer on an amplifier for the five tastes. More bass, less midrange, etc.

 

Expanding the conversation :  how about smells in combination with taste? Carbon dioxide fumes with your fish taco?  How about the smell of a baking chocolate cake with your vanilla ice cream? Smells, as has been mentioned, play a factor in what's appealing and what isn't. Limburger cheese? Durian? Great flavor. Smell? Not so much. Odors are built into us as survival mechanisms though, so maybe flavors are as well, like the bitter taste of poison. etc. On the other hand, I would eat moving bugs if it were the only protein I had available. Anyway, I ramble. . . my 2 cents.

 

Although I am going to make an effort to use tropical fruits and mushrooms. I can see it working. . . 

post #17 of 29
Chris,

I agree, that sounds like a clash. Mind you, I haven't tried poaching pineapple in red wine, or maybe putting with something like a salty/hot black bean sauce. It seems counterintuitive, so I haven't ever tried to make it work. Not to say that would either...
post #18 of 29

take pineapple spears - dust with ground hot pepper and then wrap with bacon and grill over indirect heat till the bacon is semi-crisp.... oh my yummy!

 

Jamaica's national dish - Ackee and Saltfish  (blighia sapida & salt cod)

 

----

 

I have an idea... it may or may not work.  I'll get back to you all - unless you try it first.

 

Mushroom Caps roasted with Garlic butter,  (prep)

Minced pineapple, mango, citrus, grapes and other fruits, made into a well salted quick 'fridge' pickle/relish, drain well after marinating, save marinade for cevice - you want a dry consistency (prep)

Panko, Chile Peppers, S&P and grated Dry Cheese and maybe a bit of EVOO (prep) 

 

Roast the caps, put well drained (salted) filling into them and top with Panko mix - bake in hot oven ... i'm guessing 3-7 minutes till warm through or salamander till top is crusty.

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #19 of 29

I just ordered a case of Pineapple - and a few bottle of dry red wine... definitely going for that - seems like a strong beef cut would go well with it.

 

Might try ox-tail, pineapple, red wine and peppers ..... call it fusion.

 

Serve with lots of sauce over rice.

 

... what do ya think>?

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by jake t buds View Post
 

Expanding the conversation :  how about smells in combination with taste? Carbon dioxide fumes with your fish taco?  How about the smell of a baking chocolate cake with your vanilla ice cream? Smells, as has been mentioned, play a factor in what's appealing and what isn't. Limburger cheese? Durian? Great flavor. Smell? Not so much. Odors are built into us as survival mechanisms though, so maybe flavors are as well, like the bitter taste of poison. etc. On the other hand, I would eat moving bugs if it were the only protein I had available. Anyway, I ramble. . . my 2 cents.

 

Although I am going to make an effort to use tropical fruits and mushrooms. I can see it working. . . 

 

Nothing new - the Italian futurists around Tommaso Marinetti were pairing foods and perfumes about 100 years ago. Here's a nice article on the culinary side of the movement: https://www.finedininglovers.com/stories/futurism-cuisine-manifesto-dining-marinetti/

 

Nitpick from your friendly neighbourhood biochemist: carbon dioxid is odourless.

post #21 of 29

To answer a few previous posts, I'm again referring to the scientific approach of the people behind foodpairing.com

 

I took a paragraph from their blog that says;

"...Foodpairing only takes aroma into account (don’t forget this!). But as aroma is already 80% of the taste experience, it is the most important one. Of course taste and texture will play as well a significant role in any combination. So don’t forget to experiment and above all to taste…"

 

Nowadays, chefs ask the foodpairing.com people the question which ingredients go with food item X. One good example and a good read too, is about the food pairing of... ants with pineapple. Not any kind of ants, you should read the article if you want to know. There's one chef always in for the most extravagant combinations; Alex Atala from D.O.M

This is his creation of ants and pineapple. Read the article and recipe here;  http://blog.foodpairing.com/2014/06/sauvu-ants-taste-like-lemongrass/

 

  A creation by Alex Atala... stunning or weird? Your choice.

 

On another topic;  using pineapple as a meat softener (or also using papaya to soften meat) has little to do with taste. I find that sort of meat treatment ends up in a repulsive texture, but again probably just me.

post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBelgium View Post

 

On another topic;  using pineapple as a meat softener (or also using papaya to soften meat) has little to do with taste. I find that sort of meat treatment ends up in a repulsive texture, but again probably just me.

 

I am no friend to pineapples in any way. Maybe we get just shitty quality here, but it all tastes bitingly acidic to me. Maybe I am traumatized by childhood exposure to the legendary "Toast Hawaii" - yes, you take a slice of tasteless white bread, slap some ham, a round a canned pineapple and a slice of not entirely cheese-like product on it and nuke it under the grill or salamander or whatever is at hand. No. Don't do that. That is what was considered nice and exotic in the German post-war cuisine. And it did live on in the rural backwaters way into the 80s. Talk about culinary wastelands.

post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelGA View Post
 

I just ordered a case of Pineapple - and a few bottle of dry red wine... definitely going for that - seems like a strong beef cut would go well with it.

 

Might try ox-tail, pineapple, red wine and peppers ..... call it fusion.

 

Serve with lots of sauce over rice.

 

... what do ya think>?


Oh that's good ole Pinetail! :>)

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post #24 of 29

For some more in depth reading Khymos is a great start http://blog.khymos.org/molecular-gastronomy/flavor-pairing/

 

The whole blog is a treasure trove of great information... 

 

a few others (might have to pay...)

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/flavor-connection-taste-map-interactive/

 

http://www.molecularrecipes.com/category/flavor-pairing/

 

... and the book here is a great reference saved me a few times when stumped...  http://www.amazon.com/The-Flavor-Bible-Creativity-Imaginative/dp/0316118400/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407077758&sr=8-1&keywords=flavor+bible

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #25 of 29

Chris his pineapple and ant is actually decent tasting, its just extremely overpriced xD. 

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneMachine View Post
 

 

Nothing new.

 

Nitpick from your friendly neighbourhood biochemist: carbon dioxid is odourless.

I never said it was new. 

 

I meant automobile exhaust, which most definitely isn't odorless.  

 

Carry on. . . 

post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by jake t buds View Post
 

I never said it was new. 

 

I meant automobile exhaust, which most definitely isn't odorless.  

 

Carry on. . . 

Automobile exhaust as odor agent would probably fit perfectly with above-mentioned futurists ;)

post #28 of 29
So if I look at the food truck fad as an Itlaian Futurist experiment....ok that is somewhat less annoying.
post #29 of 29

Um,

I a little confused here about pineapple. In our kitchen the fruit is very popular. I can only think of yin and yang. We cut the pineapple and roll it in chili pepper and cayenne and some other dry spice.

We do this also with mango, papaya etc. We also make the best roasted pineapple salsa but we use habanero with this. We use this over beef, pork, chicken etc.

btw, this is the back of the house, not the front.

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