Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Flavour best defined as the combined effects of the taste and aroma of food, is a matter of practical concern to all cooks and to the food industry, and a challenge to scientists. The activities of cooks in adding or modifying flavours in the kitchen are referred to in numerous articles about spices etc. This one is rather about the theoretical aspects.

Although many flavours can be described effectively for everyday purposes, usually by referring to some other flavour (‘it tastes a bit like strawberries’), a full scientific description or analysis is virtually impossible. The flavour of a single spice, which may be just one of numerous ingredients in a given dish, may embody hundreds of elements, of which some may not yet have been finally identified. For all the miraculous technology of spectroscopic analysis, there are mysteries here which will defy resolution for some time to come.