Thursday, December 29, 2011

Asian Food vs. Western Food

Though it presents all sorts of ancillary problems, sometimes it's useful to deal in huge, sweeping generalizations. A study recently published in Nature found good use for these sorts of generalizations when it explored why Western food and Asian food taste so different (see Gizmodo for a summary of the study in less technical language). Of course "Western food" and "Asian food" are extremely loose terms that gloss over the incredibly rich diversity within these hemispheric regions, but for the purposes of this study it's a fair enough distinction--these regions' foods do tend to taste fundamentally different.

Now, I was a philosophy major--I haven't read a lot of scientific studies--but as I understand it, it appears that the main difference between the culinary styles is that Western food tends to pair ingredients that share flavor compounds (the ingredients of the ingredients), whereas Asian foods typically avoid matching ingredients with overlapping flavor compounds. For the visual learners out there interested in knowing more about how these flavor compounds connect, here's an entertainingly dense chart showing how different foods relate:

Who knew that Jamaican Rum and Parmesan Cheese shared flavor compounds?

This research apparently flies in the face of some of the recent ideas about chemistry-informed cooking that suggest using seemingly unpairable ingredients (e.g. chocolate and blue cheese) because they share flavor compounds. Obviously--as several millennia of Asian cuisine can attest--this approach is not the only way to develop interesting dishes. 

Anyway, I was glad to come across this study (thanks, Rachel!). It's a great reminder that there is no one way to make good food. The world is full of different ways to please our tongues and bellies, and for that I am grateful.


io games said...

I will be happy if you read my comment. I must say that I like all your posts and wait for new ones. That's because they seem so great and suitable for me. Thanks a ton for uploading your articles.
Short Ride game racing free || Jump Ball Blast Online games kids for school || online Downhill Rush

Unknown said...

Do you know that there are readers loving to read your posts everyday? So please write and post more. I choose to follow your writing because they bring me what I want. They have knowledge and information. I will support you a lot. Thanks 2 player games || Christmas Gifts Mania new game || How to make frozen fever cake girls games for free

Huyen said...

I am cool with the page and fine with it being an open page. I only bring it up because there was recently a thread on the page discussing the open nature of the page. During that thread it was pointed out that the church opted not to operate a facebook page and so several congregants began and administer the page. There seemed to be a lot of folks who were surprised or had forgotten that the page was unofficial.
jogos friv gratis
friv 4 school
play free a10 game

Post a Comment