The Flavor Matrix: The Art and Science of Pairing Common Ingredients to Create Extraordinary Dishes

James Briscione, with Brook Parkhurst. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-0-54480-996-3
Briscione, director of culinary research at the Institute of Culinary Education, along with cowriter and wife Parkhurst, will delight food nerds with this scientific exploration of flavor profiles of common ingredients. Briscione had the opportunity to work with IBM’s supercomputer Watson, and he quickly discovered that the computer’s focus on inherent flavors rather than conventional pairings was transformative. Using chemistry to teach about the “science of flavor,” Briscione creates charts of flavor matrices that contain data about an ingredient’s aromatic compounds and its compatibility with other ingredients. He provides analyses of 58 ingredients along with pairing options and includes complex wheel-like diagrams that list optimal choices. The results range from appetizing to questionable. Recipes for coffee-cured salmon and radish-apple salad with basil vinegar sound promising, whereas a porcini, hazelnut, and chocolate torte or a black-tea tomato sauce simply feel off-key. Professional chefs and home cooks who enjoy experimentation will welcome this insightful new approach, although others may feel the combinations here are a bit too adventuresome for their palates. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/04/2017
Release date: 03/06/2018
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