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Study of Food Pairing Phenomenon, Part II

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Posted by Don, Dueling Bubbas on March 04, 2015 at 15:38:23:

In Reply to: Study of Food Pairing Phenomenon, Part I posted by Don, Dueling Bubbas on March 04, 2015 at 15:37:47:

The results make for interesting reading. Jain and co conclude that Indian cuisine is characterized by strong negative food pairing. Not only that, but the strength of this negative correlation is much higher than anything previously reported.

They also found that specific ingredients dramatically effect food pairing. For example, the presence of cayenne pepper strongly biases the flavor sharing pattern of Indian cuisine towards negative pairing. Other ingredients that have a similar effect include green bell pepper, coriander, garam masala, tamarind, ginger, cinnamon and so on.

In other words, spices make the negative food pairing effect more powerful, a phenomenon never seen before. “Our study reveals that spices occupy a unique position in the ingredient composition of Indian cuisine and play a major role in defining its characteristic profile,” say Jain and co.

That result has some interesting corollaries. In many cuisines, spices add flavor but also prevent food spoilage by killing certain types of bacteria. Jain and co say this medicinal role must have had a significant effect on the way recipes evolved since removing these ingredients would have had health impacts. “We conclude that the evolution of cooking driven by medicinal beliefs would have left its signature on traditional Indian recipes,” they say.

The result also has implications for the future of food. In the same way that Western chefs search for unusual ingredients that share the same flavors, negative food pairing may also drive the development of new flavor combinations and recipes in Indian food. “Our study could potentially lead to methods for creating novel Indian signature recipes, healthy recipe alterations and recipe recommender systems,” conclude Jain and co.

Beyond that, this work shows how powerful network science has become in analyzing disparate aspects of everyday life. Treating recipes as networks has turned out to be a powerful tool that is changing the way we think about food and how we consume it.

Ref: Spices Form The Basis Of Food Pairing In Indian Cuisine

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