The method starts with a chemical analysis of a food. The aroma compounds are determined with the aid of gas chromatography, which in most cases is coupled with a mass spectrometer (GC-MS). The odorants are also quantified with other techniques.
Key odorants can be identified by comparing the concentrations of the odorants with their respective flavor threshold. Key odorants are the compounds that a human will effectively smell. They are defined as every compound that is present in concentrations higher than their specific flavor threshold.
For example, coffee contains 700 different aroma compounds, but there are only a few compounds important for the smell of coffee as most of them are present in concentrations that may not be perceptible with the human nose, i.e. they are present in concentrations lower than their flavor threshold.
The key odorants are essential towards composing the flavor profile of the given product. The resultant flavor profile is screened against a database of other foods. Products which have flavor components in common with the original ingredient are selected and retained. These matching products could be combined with the original ingredient. With this information on possible matches, a Foodpairing tree graph is built.
The essence of Foodpairing is to combine different foods that share the same major flavor components. Comparing the flavors of individual ingredients can result in new and unexpected combinations, such as strawberries paired with peas. This combination was adopted by Sang Hoon Degeimbre, the
Experimenting with salty ingredients and chocolate around the turn of the century, Heston Blumenthal, the chef of The Fat Duck, discovered that caviar and white chocolate are a perfect match.
To find out why, he contacted François Benzi of Firmenich, the largest privately owned flavor house in the world.
By comparing the flavor analysis of both foods, they found that caviar and white chocolate had major flavor components in common.
At that time, they created the hypothesis that different foods will combine well together when they share major flavor components, and Foodpairing was born.
In 2009, the Flanders Taste foundation organized a gastronomic symposium, “The Flemish Primitives”, completely dedicated to Foodpairing.
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