What exactly is Food pairing?

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What exactly is Food pairing?
Food pairing is a method for identifying which foods go well together. The method is based on the principle that foods combine well with one another when they share major flavour components. Therefore the Food pairing process starts with a flavour analysis of a product that is to be combined. The process results in a Food Pairing Tree - a visual aid for chefs and cocktail makers that indicates which ingredients match from a flavour perspective.

What is a flavour?

An aroma compound, also known as odorant, aroma, fragrance or flavour, is a chemical compound that has a smell or odour. A chemical compound has a smell or odour when two conditions are met: the compound needs to be volatile, so it can be transported to the olfactory system in the upper part of the nose, and it needs to be in a sufficiently high concentration to be able to interact with one or more of the olfactory receptors.

Are flavours important?
Experience the importance of flavour in food through the following experiment.
Take some sugar, mix it with cinnamon and taste it while your nose is pinched, you will only experience a sweetness and grainy feel in your mouth. You have to release your fingers from your nose to taste the cinnamon. In fact, our sense of smell is responsible for 80% of our taste experience, making flavour a key driver for the creation of food combinations. 

How do you measure flavour components in food?
The product's flavour profile is determined through gas chromatography coupled mass spectrometry (GC-MS). This analytical technique separates and identifies the various components of the flavour.
Foods rich in umami

Many foods that may be consumed daily are rich in umami. Naturally occurring glutamate can be found in meats and vegetables;

Taste receptors

All taste buds on the tongue and other regions of the mouth can detect umami taste independently of their location. The tongue map in which different tastes are distributed in different regions of the tongue is a common misconception. 

Umami has a mild but lasting after-taste difficult to describe. It induces salivation and a furriness sensation on the tongue, stimulating the throat, the roof and the back of the mouth.

By itself, umami is not palatable, but it makes a great variety of foods pleasant especially in the presence of a matching aroma. But like other basic tastes, with the exception of sucrose, umami is pleasant only within a relatively narrow concentration range. The optimum umami taste depends also on the amount of salt, and at the same time, low-salt foods can maintain a satisfactory taste with the appropriate amount of umami.

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