Cooking on Books

The Flavour Thesaurus by Nikki Segnit is mouthfeel of the moment. It is the taste and texture that comes when you are forced to imagine the food, rather than seeing it in a 2D colour picture.

Its 16 sections each describe a category of flavour; Earthy, Roasted, Mustardy, Suphurous and Brine & Salt to name a few, within which are contained pairs of basic flavours. When you start to read, just dipping in, you think you are reading a clearly structured book, but the careful order fools you. You find yourself embroiled in a pattern of flavour pairs which then catapults you to another section of the book. For example:

Cinnamon & Chocolate…
Cinnamon & Clove…
Cinnamon & Coconut: See Coconut & Cinnamon, page 287

Coconut & Cinnamon…
Coconut & Coriander Leaf: See Coriander Leaf & Coconut, page 194

Coriander Leaf & Cumin…
Coriander Leaf & Garlic…
Coriander Leaf & Goats Cheese: See Goats Cheese & Coriander, page 56.

This loses the reader in a pleasurably warm sea of flavour defintions across sections, tossed from Spicy to Creamy Fruity to Green & Grassy or any other groupings.

The explanations of the flavour pairs are presented as anecdotes, recipes, cultural background and quotes and tales from older times. The author’s presence comes across knowledgably but with a chatty tone and a decent sense of humour which saves her from sounding like a teacher and is more reminiscent of your favourite college lecturer.

The book gives its reader the tools to leave recipes behind and work more easily with intuition. By understanding what combinations work, we can be released from the hells that are star anise flavoured cornish pasty pastry and bananas and beef stew.

Image courtesy of The Flavour Thesaurus

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About Sakina Murdock

Greedy, creative, gregarious bird, writing from the bonny northern hills of Cumbria's Eden. There's a lot of soul in this place and the inspiration to create is everywhere, even on the bleakest days. Soulfood. Don't just subsist.
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