This past weekend, with all the snow falling, it felt like a great time to make some comfort food. I happened across a recipe in a Martha Stewart magazine for Beef Bourguignon Soup and I dashed to the store and bought the ingredients. While the soup was tasty (after several additions to bring in some more flavour), it wasn’t what I had expected. Would I make it again? Probably not, although it was the perfect type of meal for the weekend, it got me thinking about another book that I read about recently, The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit.
What is this book exactly? It’s not a cookbook, but rather a book that explores flavour pairings. Segnit realized one day that she always relied on recipes while she was cooking and was never adventurous enough to come up with new ideas (and didn’t really know how). We’ve all seen chefs on TV whipping up fantastic creations with items that we’d never think to pair together, and it often makes me wonder how they know. Do they learn this is cooking school? Is it just instinct? Or is there some scientific formula that makes for great pairings. Seems that it is a little of everything.
When I first read an article on this book, a seasoned chef reviewed the work and praised its simple ideas. He raved about how this could transform everyday cooks into world-class chefs if they gave it a chance, and claimed that he would have breezed through his Cordon Bleu cooking school classes if he had known even half of these pairings. so what exactly does Segnit do here that is so new? She takes 99 basic flavours (strawberry, coffee etc) and researched just what would pair with them best. Sometimes, the pairings are traditional ( bacon and egg) but more often, she explores the nontraditional pairings like mango & avocado.
This isn’t a cookbook in the traditional sense, although there are recipes intertwined throughout the pages (many complaints about this being confusing, but she doesn’t market this as a cookbook). It’s a reference book, done in the non-traditional fashion with plenty of anecdotes and history about her choices. It might be a great book for someone who likes to cook, but be warned that it isn’t for someone without some cooking knowledge.
If you’d like to read more about the book, you can stop here.
There are plenty of links to articles about this book and reviews, so surf around if you are interested in finding out more. I’m going to order myself a copy, I think. If it revolutionizes my cooking, I’ll be sure to gift this book to several of my foodie friends.