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Strawberry + Sauerkraut = Huh?


Published February 6, 2008 at 9:05 a.m.

Here's the theory: “Food combines with each other when they have major flavour components in common [sic].” Strange grammar aside -- the quotation comes from a Belgian website -- the idea is intriguing, and it's one of the key theories behind wine or beer pairing.

It is, in fact, the reason that beer lovers believe their chosen libation is actually a better match for food than vino is: The argument is that beer has caramelized, toasty, roast-y and nutty flavors that are found in many foods (bread, cheese, nuts), while wine's yeasty, acidic, tannic and fruity qualities are harder to match.

The line comes from the website called Foodpairing: A Delectable Meal for the Mind. The creators have analyzed the flavor characteristics of 250 different foods and used their analyses to create unique "maps" showing which foods have tastes in common. The closer the foods are on the map, the more similarities they have.

To the right you can see the chart they made for the humble banana. And if there's anything that strikes me about it, it's that I think bananas and yogurt are a surprisingly awesome combination. Especially when sprinkled with a little cinnamon, also on the list. Banana with mussels seems more farfetched, but I can totally imagine it on the menu at a super expensive New York City restaurant.

A few others: Chicken, which tastes good with almost anything, is matched up with standard stuff such as Parmesan, potatoes and peanuts, but apparently should be just as tasty when combined with kelp, green tea or licorice.  Asparagus has unlikely culinary comrades in vanilla, coffee and starfruit. Hmm.

The last word from the Foodpairing folks? "This is just a tool to inspire you. You still need as a chef thecraftsmanship, the experience,…to translate this inspiration into agood recipe. It is not only mixing two components together. The balancebetween the two is important."