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Do people love beef because it shares flavour compounds with so many other flavours? Could strawberries and mussels work well? What about soy with black tea? These are just a few of the questions you start to ask after playing with this food pairing chart.
The interactive infographic, produced by Scientific America, looks at flavour compounds and how these connect certain foods. It’s long been known that certain flavour compounds are found across many different foods - understanding this is a way of scientifically answering the question of why certain ingredients just seem to be made for each other.
The chart lists many different ingredients with lines linking the ones that share one or more flavour compound. The thicker this line is shown on the chart shows the more compounds in common. There are some really interesting things to scan through.
Click the image below to play with the food pairing graph.
The bottom of the chart shows ingredients that share no compounds with other ingredients: gelatin, sumac, starch. The ingredients shown at the very top of the graph are those that have the most connecting compounds: roast beef sits tops with 49 overlapping compounds.
The best part of the chart is how it randomly shows up interesting food pairings you may not have considered in the past. Another interesting discovery linked with the research that fuelled the infographic is that it showed only Western cuisine tend to overlap flavour compounds, in the East it was shown that chefs tend to opt for distinct ingredients with fewer overlapping compounds.