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|Written by Keren Brown|
|Sunday, 02 March 2008 19:00|
Enjoying food has become an increasing trend. For many years food was the enemy. Dieting was a monstrously fast-growing business and people spent much time and energy restricting themselves from eating. Gradually, though, people began seeing food as a positive experience; chefs started getting the recognition they deserve and with time the internet became the meeting place for people seeking to find recipes and other food-related articles, and looking to be a part of the new wave of epicureans.
Food is like a sport: some like to practice it together, some would rather do so alone. Many people seek new ways to thrill themselves. It's time to introduce your palate to some flavors and combinations that will heighten your food experience.
This mouth-watering palate wonder needs no introduction. We all have our favourite chocolate bars, chocolate combinations and rich chocolaty sweet desserts. It's time to liven things up a bit. Chili anyone? Dark chocolate with chili is a winning combination; the spicy chili balances out the bitterness in the dark chocolate.
How about "Mole Poblano", a Mexican sauce made with chili peppers, ground nuts, spices and Mexican Chocolate (ground cacao with sugar, cinnamon and sometimes nuts). This sauce is used on dishes with turkey or chicken.
Another great combination is chocolate and balsamic vinegar. Choose a nice piece of milk chocolate and place it in your mouth. Let it coat your palate. Now try another piece, this time adding a tiny drop of high quality balsamic vinegar. Taste the difference. Enjoy the contrast of flavours.
Last but not least, chocolate-covered bacon. A few companies have started producing it and many food bloggers are experimenting with this sweet and savoury combination.
When the word "truffle" comes to mind, many think of the chocolate truffle. The truffles that I am referring to are an uncommon and extremely expensive type of mushroom. Truffles have an earthy scent that some might compare to old socks.
In Anthelme Brillat -Savarin's book published in 1825, Physiologie du Goût (The Physiology of Taste), he refers to the truffle as the "diamond of cuisine". He says, "He who says truffle pronounces a big word that wakes up erotic and gourmand memories for the sex who wears skirts and gourmand and erotic memories for the sex who wears a beard." In this statement, he clearly implies that the truffle has aphrodisiac qualities. Due to the incredible price of truffles, most people cannot afford to indulge in this rare delicacy.
For the earthy taste in everyday cooking, truffle salt and truffle oil can be used. Truffle salt comes in white truffle or black varieties, and can be used to flavour anything from pasta to eggs or even to make your own truffle croutons. Truffle oil is widely used in restaurants on upscale French fries, risotto or anything that could benefit from intense mushroom flavour.
This purple herb is a part of the mint family. It tastes sweet, with a bit of a citrusy undertone. French chefs use it in a spice mix known as "Herbes de Provence", invented in the 1970s. This spice is commonly used for grilling fish and meat. Lavender is used in savoury dishes such as meats and stews, and many chefs are using lavender in sweeter dishes as well. Lavender can be used to make a delicious sorbet palate cleanser, lavender ice cream or even lavender cookies. Lavender can be purchased at specialty spice shops and looks like tiny purple flower buds. Be sure to choose English lavender because it has the sweetest taste out of all the varieties.
When incorporating lavender in cooking, be sure to start with a small amount and gradually add more as you go. Adding too much lavender can leave you with a bit of a soapy taste.
The name "beets" may paint a gloomy picture for many since it is wrongfully associated with the taste of dirt. This root vegetable that comes in colours including red, yellow, white and candy-striped, has gotten a damagingly bad reputation. The Romans used beetroot to treat fevers and constipation. They also discovered another use for it: to promote sexuality, due to the presence of boron, which is known to play a role in the production of sexual hormones. I finally allowed myself to try roasted beets for the first time a few weeks ago in a salad. The salad consisted of beets, goat cheese and some walnuts. There was an initial shock before the first bite and I had to remind myself that these were not the beets my grandmother used to eat. The bite was slightly earthy at first but then I was subjected to a sugary taste that left my palate feeling lucky to experience this contrast of flavours. Roasted beets taste great with goat cheese, blue cheese, walnuts, feta, crème fraiche...the list goes on. Try to give beets a chance, you won't regret it.
Human beings are blessed to be able to experience such gratification from food. Sometimes we get into the habit of making the same food choices day in and day out. We use restaurants as our only opportunities to try daring food combinations. Cooking at home is a great way to experiment with new flavours. Just google the ingredients that you want to use and experiment with a recipe. Brillat-Savarin once said, "Tell me what you eat and I'll tell you what you are". In other words, don't overdo it on the chocolate covered bacon.