All The Flavours Of The Rainbow

The Flavour Thesaurus

When I was out the other day buying that ridiculously overpriced ice pop maker, I also happened to be in the neighbourhood of The Cookbook Store which was coincidentally just the place where I had a birthday gift certificate from my mother in law burning a hole in my wallet.

Knowing my habits fairly well, I have never allowed myself to set foot inside their store before.  Since I already own several hundred cookbooks (and counting) going here even semi-regularly would just be a really bad idea.  But, I had the gift certificate and I was in the area so I figured I might as well kill 2 birds with 1 stone, right?

Just as I suspected, The Cookbook Store was a beautifully curated room devoted to nothing but books on epicurean delights.  It was pure heaven for a food/print nerd like me.  After perusing the store languidly for nearly half an hour, I was in the unenviable position of finding way too many books to take home with me.  Standing firm, I decided that I would only choose 1.  Of course, I couldn’t decide which one it should be, so I put down the whole pile and begrudgingly prepared to leave.

Out of the corner of my eye I spied this colourful tome sitting atop a stacked table and hesitated.  After quickly paging through The Flavour Thesaurus I immediately knew that this was the book for me.  Aside from the vibrant colour wheel on the cover and the fuchsia-tinged pages, the concept of the book resonated with me.  Since I don’t often cook from actual recipes, being able to easily identify clever flavour pairings is right up my alley especially when they’re collected all in one handy reference place!

Author Niki Segnit divides the book into 16 central flavour profiles, such as woodland, marine, bramble & hedge, sulfurous, etc and then divides each group into several pertinent subsections (i.e. sulfurous contains cabbage, brussels sprouts, eggs, etc).  Each subsection then lists ingredients that pair well with the highlighted base foods in a manner reminiscent of a textbook entry.  Some suggestions, such as artichoke and lemon or broccoli and cheese will come as no surprise to even the most casual reader, but more subtle pairings such as anise and rhubarb and parsnip and banana definitely intrigued me.  Proving that the book is also on the pulse of the culinary world, the au courant chocolate bacon marriage gets a nod, too.

At times it does remind me of The Flavour Bible by Karen Page but I find I much prefer the layout of this Thesaurus, not to mention its smaller and more compact form immediately renders the book that much less intimidating.  It’s not the kind of book I’d recommend reading cover to cover (unless you like that sort of thing) but its reference qualities easily earned it a place on my overstuffed bookshelf regardless.

It also happens to make fascinating light bedtime reading for food geeks like me.  Anyone from the newest of new cooks to well-established professionals could find merit within these rosy pink pages; I guarantee no matter what your skill level, if you open a page, you will learn something new.

Until next time…

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