Last week’s post went into a different direction than I intended to. The need for order actually resulted from a vision: I could try modelling flavour – and I don’t mean the process of tasting – but solely the characteristics of flavour itself (that we can embed into the model from last week). Abstraction for simplification. Maybe flavours are like colours, and every flavour is a combination of a set of basic flavours. I realize how little I know.
I did some research and wow, it really is that simple. In “The Flavor Bible” Karen Page explains that all flavours are a combination of five basic flavours: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. Umami, did you know this one? It means delicious in Japanese, and is largely considered a basic flavour since not that long. Foods that have typical umami flavour are tomatoes, meat, mushrooms, algae, fermented foods and broths. You get the idea. It’s described as savoury. Yet, we don’t really know if there are more flavours.
However, over 80% of what we taste comes from the aromas, not the basic flavours, states Karen Page.
Well, that means one should be an expert of aroma if one wants to be an expert of flavour. Let’s quickly dive into the world of aromas then. Question to Google shows that there are over 10 000 aromas. Wow. That sounds exciting. I’m not giving up on my vision, but it will take time to find a model that will satisfy its goals.
For now, let’s have a look on some of the other components that influence the taste and experience of eating: texture, look and temperature.
Let’s have a look on this goodness paying special attention to umami, texture, look and temparture.
Zucchini Pasta with Tomato-Sauce
From "Thrive Foods" by Brendan Brazier
- 2 large zucchini
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 60 ml olive oil
- 1 kg tomatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 100 g dried tomatoes, soaked in little water
- 50 g green olives
- 50 g black olives
- 1 bunch of basil
- 2 tbsp tamari (or normal soy sauce)
Cut the zucchinis with a vegetable peeler into thin slices, then cut the slices lenghtwise two or three times. Add the salt and 2 tbsp of olive oil, and let it rest for 30 min. Marinating the zucchini stripes will make them softer, tastier and easier to digest.
Blend half of the tomatoes, the garlic and the dried tomatoes with its soak water. Dice the other half of the tomatoes, chop the olives and the basil, and add them with the rest of the olive oil and tamari to the sauce. Voilà.
I prepared some potatoes with thyme and rosemary as a side-dish.
It wasn’t hard to make it really look like pasta! That will influence the experience of eating and hence the flavour perception positively. The temperature is on room temperature, which makes it a perfect fresh lunch. Tomatoes work perfectly well at room temperature.
The sauce does almost everything, the zucchini allows. The zucchini has lost all of its bitterness during the marination. Due to its thinnes and salty mild flavour, it only gives the sauce a playground to play. What we taste first, is the sour and umami taste of the dried tomatoes, then garlic supports building that harmonious mediterranean flavour wave consisting of basil, olive and olive oil; which then the tomato dices carry on. They have the perfect size to do that. As this happens, the tamari is adding wonderful satisfying umami and salty flavour, creating a burst of flavour in general, since umami and salty flavours intensify the others. This sauce is an example of a culinary fusion between continents – and what a simple and lucious one : )
In the last week, I tried out some of the recipes from Brendan Brazier’s “Thrive Foods”, which is an awesome cook book! It combines the three components I always pay attention to: simplicity, effect and of course flavour. Next week, I am going to use what I’ve learned from those recipes to create a recipe of my own. Until then, do let me know your thoughts on the zucchini pasta when you try it!