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Food Pairing
December 2, 2007 2:24 PM   Subscribe

How to pair foods, if you've ever wondered whether oysters go with chocolate but didn't want to end up with an expensive mess
posted by sim.possible (55 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love all the little pictures.
posted by 45moore45 at 2:26 PM on December 2, 2007


This is so exciting. I can't wait to try grapes with tomato paste!
posted by sim.possible at 2:32 PM on December 2, 2007


I don't know what Blue is. Blueberries, sure, but blue?
posted by cobaltnine at 2:33 PM on December 2, 2007


Blue cheese.
posted by Simon! at 2:37 PM on December 2, 2007


Be careful. The graphs for the herbs/spices are for rebuilding a flavor, while the graphs for everything else are for actual pairings.

A friend who showed me this website thought that all graphs represented how to rebuild a flavor, but that would mean that you could simulate the flavor of cooked chicken by using peanuts, potatoes, passion fruit, and parm cheese.

Which might be quite tasty, but would certainly not be chicken.

posted by suckerpunch at 2:37 PM on December 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Vast platters of bloody meat pair up nicely with huge pots of strong beer.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:38 PM on December 2, 2007 [5 favorites]


How about chocolate and chili? (It isn't a joke, by the way.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:41 PM on December 2, 2007


SDB : if you enjoy that flavor combination, you should try any recipe that uses mole sauce.
posted by suckerpunch at 2:46 PM on December 2, 2007


I find that tacos pair well with refried beans. Hmmm... I guess I'm not ready for the Culinary Institute yet.
posted by chips ahoy at 2:48 PM on December 2, 2007


Steven, I've had a chocolate bar with chili in it. Works surprisingly well and is really nice. Based on an old Mayan recipe, apparently.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:50 PM on December 2, 2007


I believe this is known as molecular gastronomy. I also believe the restaurant WD~50 in Manhattan serves dishes that do this. Even if that's not exactly what they do, it's what I thought they did when I went there for the first time.

And now my girlfriend and I go there for every birthday we have because it's so damn good and it's exciting. When they bring out mackerel and passion fruit and you think "yuck" until you take a bite and it's the best thing you've ever eaten...well, that's what makes it so great. It's a like a fun house for your mouth and I cannot recommend it enough.
posted by Brainy at 2:53 PM on December 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Strawberries + balsamic vinegar = yum
Strawberries + black pepper = Yummier
posted by brautigan at 2:54 PM on December 2, 2007


Okay, I see it now. The macro picture was slightly puzzling, as was the co-cheesitation section in the southeast of the diagram.

Also, chocolate and chili is fantastic.
posted by cobaltnine at 2:57 PM on December 2, 2007


slimepuppy- I was once given "Mayan hot chocolate" which was basically spicey hot chocolate. It was awesome.

I'm curious to know what chocolate and cottage would taste like together. It says they go nicely, but what kind of cottage are we talking here? Are we talking small wooden frame shack? Or perhaps an exquisite number on the beach with a nice sandstone overlay?
posted by Autarky at 2:59 PM on December 2, 2007


yeah, but chocolate and bacon is divine.
posted by lester the unlikely at 3:00 PM on December 2, 2007


brautigan : somewhere out there, there's a balsamic vinegar and peach pie recipe. I made it once, a long time ago. It was, as the 4channers say, "FULL OF WIN AND GOD".
posted by suckerpunch at 3:05 PM on December 2, 2007


Neat idea but I simply don't buy it. They say that the shorter the distance the better the combination. So.. chocolate goes better with cauliflower than strawberries, better with beef than orange? I don't think so.
posted by dobbs at 3:07 PM on December 2, 2007


lester the unlikely, bacon and chocolate are ingredients I use when making Bolognese sauce, it adds a nice sweetness and tones down the lightness of the tomatoes slightly.

I'm trying to remember the must suprising comination (that actually worked) I've ever had. It might have been tuna and strawberry, but I can't quite remember if that was exactly what it was.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:15 PM on December 2, 2007


I must admit I'm confused...is the peppermint diagram saying that you could combine thyme and cumin to make an ersatz peppermint.

I just tried it in my kitchen. Maybe there was a slight cooling minty effect, but I think more likely I was just making it up.
posted by HeroZero at 3:16 PM on December 2, 2007


I tricked my friends by giving them pieces of chilli chocolate. The reactions were all the same. "Mmm, yum...OW! HOT!"

Salted peanuts + vanilla icecream + coconut shavings = YUM.

Vegemite is tolerable on cheese.

Cheese wrapped around chocolate is surprisingly good.
posted by divabat at 3:29 PM on December 2, 2007


Fun idea, but not getting a bookmark from me if they don't even have avocado.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:30 PM on December 2, 2007


Also, really good balsamic vinegar on vanilla ice-cream is divine.
posted by brautigan at 3:32 PM on December 2, 2007


Thanks for this, sim.possible. I used to frequent a couple of Vancouver restaurants run by Mark Potovsky (Angelica on Fourth Ave. was one), and he was very creative with food pairing. Strawberries with Sambuca and black pepper, etc. Haven't heard about him in ages, but Google says he's now at Trianon in Portland.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:32 PM on December 2, 2007


I've had a chocolate bar with chili in it.

Dagoba Xocolatl and Xocolatl Hot Chocolate (74% Chilies and Nibs) are "interpretation[s] of the original chocolate drink of the Aztec royalty."

There's also Montezuma's Spicy Bars.
posted by ericb at 3:41 PM on December 2, 2007


I was once given "Mayan hot chocolate" which was basically spicey hot chocolate.

In the film Chocolat, Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche) adds chili to hot chocolate, making Mayan Hot Chocolate in her shop La Chocolaterie Maya. Recipes.
posted by ericb at 3:47 PM on December 2, 2007


The origin of Mayan Hot Chocolate [History Channel UK video -- 2:06].
posted by ericb at 3:50 PM on December 2, 2007


I've been carrying an idea very like this around in my head for a few years now, but had always seen it in my mind as an enormous never-ending web page with links in all directions.

This could be really useful - there comes a point when you don't need any more practical cooking advice, but you might need a couple of pairing suggestions. Not sure I trust these particular suggestions though... what can the 'blue' be that rhubarb goes well with?

I think it might have been better with the herbs and spices to suggest pairings instead - if you don't have the herb or spice for a given recipe, maybe you could think about what else to cook. On the other hand, if you've had a bag of star anise sitting in the kitchen for months it might help you to know that it goes well with plum.
posted by calico at 3:51 PM on December 2, 2007


Oddly, nothing pairs with pears.
posted by hal9k at 3:52 PM on December 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Marijuana pairs with all known foods: if you smoke enough dope, anything tastes delicious.
posted by rhymer at 3:58 PM on December 2, 2007


Interesting site. They should translate and mirror it here in Japan where a large pizza with raw tuna, extra octopus and pineapple on the side is no problem!
posted by robpongi at 4:07 PM on December 2, 2007


They should translate and mirror it here in Japan where a large pizza with raw tuna, extra octopus and pineapple on the side is no problem!

I just threw up in my mouth. Gaw!
posted by ericb at 4:24 PM on December 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


When I was pregnant I discovered that the best drink to wash down a turkey BLT is frothy milk with applesauce whipped in. Trust me on this, try it.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:26 PM on December 2, 2007


Related: The Incompatible Food Triad challenges you to name three foods such that any two of them go together, but all three do not.
posted by futility closet at 4:33 PM on December 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


How is it that rhubarb and strawberry are not lasted as pairing up well? That combination is diving, the most amazing fruit/veggie mix of sweet and tart I've ever had. I'm going to explore this site further, but I think they lost me a little on that one.
posted by piratebowling at 4:47 PM on December 2, 2007


Regarding bacon, a friend of mine told me about a conversation he had one time. His buddy said, "Bacon goes well with everything." My friend said, "Oh? How about with vanilla ice cream?"

So they tried it -- and apparently it was really good.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:10 PM on December 2, 2007


How is it that rhubarb and strawberry are not lasted as pairing up well?

They're also missing apples and cinnamon.
posted by HeroZero at 5:19 PM on December 2, 2007


Oddly, nothing pairs with pears.

Soooo wrong. Figs go great with pears. So do Oranges. Try this:

2 pears cored and sliced
1 pint fresh figs, sliced
1 orange, seeded and peeled
1/2 cup pitted dates
1 tbs coconut oil
1 vanilla bean

Blend everything except the pears and figs. Put figs and pears in mixing bowl, pour blend over top, mix well. Delish!
posted by dobbs at 5:25 PM on December 2, 2007


"I just threw up in my mouth. Gaw!"

OH NO! I'm very sorry eric, but, if it makes you feel any better, in fact, I too, have had the exact same thing happen to me here in the past!
posted by robpongi at 7:02 PM on December 2, 2007


No garlic, onion, or tomatoes. No celery. No black pepper. Does that mean all of those things go with everything else?

But seriously, I wonder why they chose these specific ingredients?
posted by Stewriffic at 7:25 PM on December 2, 2007


this doesn't seem to pair apples with cinnamon. that seem odd to anyone else?
posted by es_de_bah at 7:43 PM on December 2, 2007


They're representing one specific dimension of flavor, so the foods are examples of that characteristic.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:16 PM on December 2, 2007


Mr. Gunn, please elaborate? I don't understand.
posted by piratebowling at 8:20 PM on December 2, 2007


Pork goes great with pears in much the same way that it goes well with apples. Pears poached in port is also a classic.

As for chili and chocolate, I have on two occasions made a chocolate-chili cheesecake, and it's awesome.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 9:03 PM on December 2, 2007


omg ten pounds, that is the next cheescake I make, no question. I often do jalapeno cheesecakes with cornbread crust, just as, you know, an idea in trade.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:38 PM on December 2, 2007


I don't get what the little branches are supposed to represent when they are showing food pairings.
Does that mean that every ingredient on that branch will have a similar "taste" when paired with the main ingredient?
Or is it just to make it look cooler?
posted by Tbola at 7:49 AM on December 3, 2007


I have a phenomenal pork tenderloin rub that consists mostly of cocoa, and a beef tenderloin rub that is mostly cinnamon. Both are out of this world.
posted by ancientgower at 10:27 AM on December 3, 2007


rhymer writes "Marijuana pairs with all known foods: if you smoke enough dope, anything tastes delicious."

I'd like to add that it's a great way to start out cooking.

Oh, as for a strange but fantastic combination - peanut butter and dill pickle. Makes a great sandwich with toasted whole wheat. I haven't tried this since I've switched to all natural peanut butter with no sugar. It might require some sweetening if it has none of its own.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:39 PM on December 3, 2007


rhymer writes "Marijuana pairs with all known foods: if you smoke enough dope, anything tastes delicious."

I'd like to add that it's a great way to start out cooking.

Last night's adventures along this path yielded up fuyu persimmons and cream cheese. Fresh and delightful.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:32 PM on December 3, 2007


One of the local home-made ice cream shops around here offers "Chocolate Coyote" - it's chocolate ice cream with cayenne pepper in it. Cold ice cream with burning capsaicin is an odd sensation in the mouth. I can't stand it, but I know people who love it.
posted by vytae at 2:03 PM on December 3, 2007


My good friend makes a vegan flourless chocolate cake with cayenne and zucchini. Sounds weird as all getout, but it's spicy and sinfully rich and delicious.

Btw, thanks to that link above, I just ordered 10 bacon chocolate bars. The checkout said "Due to the warm weather in your area, your items will ship next-day air". It's f.off cold here, but I couldn't be happier to get acquainted with my bacon bars that much sooner!
posted by iamkimiam at 3:19 PM on December 3, 2007


piratebowling: "Mr. Gunn, please elaborate? I don't understand."

I read somewhere that each different branch is based on a specific compound(aromatic oil, flavonoid, etc.), so it doesn't necessarily mean they're a good match if they're connected, but rather if they're connected with a short branch. So Blueberry and turnip would be a better match than blueberry and artichoke, though neither might actually be that good of a match.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:31 PM on December 3, 2007


How is it that rhubarb and strawberry are not lasted as pairing up well?

Well, I'll take a shot at that one. I love rhubarb. I love strawberries. I like rhubarb and strawberry together, but somewhat less than either one alone. To put it another way, I'd take a piece of either rhubarb pie or strawberry pie over a piece of strawberry-rhubarb pie. But I certainly won't turn down strawberry-rhubarb if that's the only thing available.

I think a good pairing should be better than either of the paired items alone, so by that criterion (in my admittedly subjective estimation) strawberry-rhubarb fails.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:47 AM on December 4, 2007


Well, thank you for living up to your handle, DevilsAdvocate, but I just can't agree with you. I've yet to find a way of preparing rhubarb any way that is half as delicious as with strawberries, especially in a pie (although a sauce will due in a pinch). I realize this is all 100% subjective, but as further anecdotal "evidence," my roommate grew up with rhubarb pies, and he was luke-warm on them, until I made a strawberry rhubarb pie, which he loved. He then tried to make a apple-rhubarb pie, which I felt just fell short.

I'm just having a hard time understanding the pairing criteria in the site, but Mr. Gunn's explanation works to clear away some of the confusion.
posted by piratebowling at 10:01 AM on December 4, 2007


deliciousness(strawberry+rhubarb) > deliciousness(strawberry)+deliciousness(rhubarb).
posted by Wolfdog at 10:18 AM on December 4, 2007


The pairing chart is only showing the complementation dimension, the related flavors, and it can't show the contrasting dimension of pairing, like oil and vinegar.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:40 PM on December 4, 2007


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