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EDSC Book Nook: “The Flavor Thesaurus”

I almost didn’t take this book out of the library. I have a habit of taking out reference-style books that end up just sitting on my nightstand until they’re overdue. Something about this one grabbed me, though, and I’m so glad I brought it home.

“The Flavor Thesaurus” breaks down ingredients into 99 essential flavors, such as Earthy (mushrooms, eggplant, beets), Roasted (chocolate, coffee, peanut), and Woodland (chestnut, walnut, hazelnut). Then the author discusses how each ingredient reacts with others, often with a dose of humor. For example, “Avocado and bacon: When these two meet it’s not exactly murder, but you might want to have your cardiologist on speed dial.” Or this description of bananas and almond: “A banana split without a sprinkling of toasted almond flakes? Like a Bee Gee in a buttoned-up shirt.”

For some flavor pairings, she provides recipes, such as one for a carrot and peanut salad that I can’t wait to try. Also on my list are anise and almond cookies.

The author, Niki Segnit, is British, so she does include some flavors that aren’t as popular in the U.S., such as black currant, watercress and rutabaga, but overall, she gives a thorough and often unexpected look at flavor combinations. I promise it will make you want to start experimenting in the kitchen.