Twelve years ago, Karen Page and her husband Andrew Dornenburg published Culinary Artistry. They interviewed hundreds of chefs around the country to learn more about what makes cooking an artistic endeavor. The real value of this book was the middle section that had a listing of “flavor marriages.” In encyclopedic format, they listed ingredients, such as chicken, mushrooms or artichokes, with a list of ingredients and flavors that paired well. The list was by no means exhaustive, but it was a great starting point. I began to make notes in the margins of flavor pairings I thought worked as well but were not on their list. This year, they finished the work that I wanted to... and they published the Flavor Bible. This isn’t so much a cookbook as it is a reference book to stir creativity.
One of the biggest challenges of searching for recipes on-line is that you need to know what you’re looking for. If, let’s say, you want to cook chicken, you will get thousands of recipes in a search results window – a near impossible challenge to sort through all the options. With this book, you can browse the listings for chicken, and see that it pairs well with coconut, galangal and lime, or with garlic, pancetta and sage. From here, you can have a much more productive web search of recipes. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll just make something up with the various ingredients that I now feel confident match each other.
CookThink has tried to capture this sort of brainstorming in a web-based, recipe search engine. But if you still prefer the tangible feel of a book, I highly recommend The Flavor Bible.