Book Review: The Flavor Bible

The Flavor Bible Although this book might not appear appropriate for our wine blog, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. The Flavor Bible offers a new look at combining tastes and seasonings and is written by the same authors as What to Drink with What you Eat, a book we use daily to evaluate wine pairings. So if your interested in fine tuning your food with wine read on…

Cooking can be a very creative process if you have an understanding of the aesthetic of flavor. The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dorneburg presents a guide to flavor affinities that makes recipes less important and frees a cook to create unique dishes. Based on the experiences of many of the top and innovative chefs in America, the authors provide tables that show how flavors of hundreds of ingredients relate to one another so that cooks can create new and delicious flavor combinations using the vast number of new ingredients that are quickly becoming available.

The book consists primarily of tables containing more than six hundred ingredients listed alphabetically with modern-day compatible flavors. Believing that the aesthetic of flavor is a combination of taste, mouthfeel, aroma, and a hard to define “X” factor, the authors also provide information on seasonal availability, basic taste, weight, volume, primary function, and cooking tips, concluding with flavor affinities, and in some cases, pairings to avoid. Dozens of cuisines are also included and insets give new cooking techniques, suggest dishes, and relate the experiences of individual chefs. The entry for eggs, for example tells us that the taste is sweet to astringent, the weight is light to medium, the volume is quiet, and the cooking techniques are baking, boiling, frying, poaching and scrambling. Eggs pair well with over forty other ingredients but are especially good with asparagus, basil, cheeses, pepper, potatoes, salt and spinach; avoid cranberries. Flavor affinities include: bacon, cheese and onions; cheese, mushrooms and thyme; mozzarella cheese and Roman tomatoes. Suggestions for egg dishes include poached eggs with polenta and tomato hollandaise; goat cheese omelet with oranges and citrus hollandaise, toasted ciabata and apple butter; and zucchini, Gruyere cheese, mushroom frittata.

There are no recipes but lots of suggestions. The photographs provide color to enliven the work, but are not particularly informative. The layout is clear and easy to read. If you are serious about creative cooking this is a must have book!!!

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