Everyone knows foods that go well together like peanut butter & jelly, cucumber & dill, apples & sharp cheddar cheese, horseradish & beef, etc., but I was intrigued as to why the latest dessert with corn cream & blueberry ice cream blew my mind (see below with flan in the foreground). Sure, a blueberry cornbread muffin is yummy but a blueberry/corn dessert was a new one for your Spy and that’s the sort of thing that really makes me giddy! So what is it about food pairings? Well, as you probably know, the taste receptors on our tongues can only sense 5 tastes – salty, bitter, sweet, sour and umami. Interestingly, that means that as much as 80% of what we taste comes from aroma. In fact, a term known as the flavor threshold is synonymous with the “odor threshold value” defined as “the minimal concentration of an odor compound that can be detected by human smell”. Fairly recently, folks in the field of molecular gastronomy have been employing techniques like mass spectral analysis to determine the flavor threshold of various foods and attempting to discover new combinations of flavors that, in theory, should work together. Most of what they have discovered confirm what we already know (surprise…PB&J works) but helped find some “new” pairings like caviar & white chocolate and strawberries & peas. In other cases, even if a pairing should work in theory, lower level compound combination make it “meh” in practice. For example, licorice & salmon. I can’t say I ever had this nor do I feel I want to. However, salmon and fennel is a solid combo and fennel is a similar herb to licorice. Anyhow…. corn and blueberries work… really well. Enjoy! Spy out.