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~ The Ongoing Problem of Culinary Customs -- Does anyone know of a site where you can find recipes based on flavor profile? ~ [moved from General Topics]

So you can pick the tastes (lightly sweet) and flavors (foral note) you like, and it would list recipes based on that :)

Fascinating backstory..... (very boring and dry honestly)

I got this idea after having asked two subsitutation questions:

And it seems clear that the only reason why I am forbidden to substitute, or exclude an ingredient is if I wanted a "unique" taste, which I cannot appreciate (see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/823224 ) Someone wrote "I would not use a cream sherry with a seafood dish." Now is this custom, or does the seafood dish taste awful if you did? Because if it tastes good or interesting, I would.

A lot of people seem to cook based on custom (or what we were taught). You all know that certain sauces go with certain dishes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauces#E... ) or certain wines accompany certain foods. All of this is custom. Taste is subjective.

I believe in a perfect society, people would cook based on what Tastes yummy. We live in a society that believes there is a "right' way to cook when the reality is that there isn't. Following a recipe is the "right" way to do it, but the final dish isn't necessarily any "better" than a comparable dish without certain ingredients, the final dish was just "different".

Most, if not all, customs are like this, and as for culinary customs, they make all cooking-related things complicated and painstaking. They decrease pleasure ='( They make me sad. And they make my future children (whom wants to play with their food, and make castles with spaghetti) equally sad. They want to put honey-scented orange juice where the recipes demand coco butter. Is that not okay? Does this offend your beliefs, habits, and way of life? You're full of advices and opinions (don't eat red meat or any animal by-products because vegan is the humane way to go!). But.. but why must you make cooking not joyful and fun?

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  1. i'm a bit confused by the premise of your post - you ask for a source for recipes, and then go on to basically make the argument that recipes are restrictive and unnecessary.

    but yes, what you want is Yummly...

    for the record, the search feature on any decent recipe site will allow you to plug in a few keywords...and then it will spit out a list of recipes for you.

    1. Billions of people cook food every day and have done so for thousands of years, so most combinations have already been tried. Some have been considered successful (i.e., yummy) and those recipes have been carried forward.

      The same with cooking techniques. So the "right way" to cook is not really a custom, but more a collective trial and error experiment, with a very long history.

      If you want to try different flavor combinations, you can. No one is stopping you, you may eventually discover something fantastic.

      But if you are asking for advice on this forum, people will likely advise you towards something that has proven to be good.

      Cooking is joyful, because we make food for the enjoyment of our friends and family, and we want it to be the best we can make. Sometimes that requires us to adhere to a complicated and painstaking recipe, sometimes we get lucky and create something with the ingredients that we have at hand.

      1. Identifying flavor profiles goes hand in hand with developing and increasing your palate. You should concentrate more on the latter so YOU can identify FP's.

        Furthermore NO ONE is forced to adhere to a recipe verbatim. What are you ranting about?!

        1. There is an undeniable role of chemistry in flavor, and certain combinations of chemical compounds can make new compounds in flavors widely thought of as un-yummy, such as bitter and sulpherous. Now you may enjoy bitter and sulpherous and so taste is subjective, but in some cases there are reasons why certain combinations just aren't commonly done. Have you ever washed down a steamed artichoke with a glass of cold milk? Did you enjoy it?

          I disagree with your theory on society forcing us to cook to a standard of 'rightness'. And some substitutions such as your suggestion of orange juice for cocoa butter don't work just because of the roles the ingredients play in structure and texture, not just flavor. A recipe is just a suggestion made by one person for whom that worked, it is not set in stone as the only thing allowed to be considered delicious, but one won't be successful at making substitutions until one understands the role and characteristics of each ingredient.

          1. "They want to put honey-scented orange juice where the recipes demand coco butter"

            I'm all in favour of letting the small people play in the kitchen. That's the way to encourage them to enjoy food. Their experimentation will also demonstrate to them that there was a really good reason why the recipe said cocoa butter and not orange juice.

            And to answer the OP's question - No, I dont know of any such site

            3 Replies
            1. re: Harters

              And to answer the OP's question - No, I dont know of any such site
              if by some chance you're interested, there is one...


              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                How are the profiles on yummly created? Looks like they've collected recipes from all over (one I looked at was from Epicurious), and added profiles and nutritional facts. Is that added info produced by a computer program using the ingredients list, or by 'users' - people who have tested the recipe and rated it in terms of salty, sweet, bitter etc? The profile categories seem rather crude, enough to distinguish between a desert (sweet), a salad (sour), and entree, but doing little to distinguish between an Italian chicken stew and a French one.

            2. I am not quite clear what you are after, but I do recommend "Culinary Artistry" and "The Flavor Bible" by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, which discuss at length what ingredients go with other ingredients and why. For example, basil goes with tomato and creates a certain flavor profile. Peanut butter goes with chocolate, etc. However, these authors go into much more detail, using a much longer set of possible ingredients.

              1 Reply
              1. re: gfr1111

                Do those authors talk about the role of cultural expectations? For example tomato and basil is a characteristically Italian combination. Have you tried peanuts and tomatoes? Mexicans make 'encacahuatado rojo', a cooked red salsa using tomatoes, chiles, and peanuts.

                There a books that give a quick-n-dirty introduction to world cuisines by giving few characteristic spice combinations for each. Spice dealiers like Panzeys have Greek mixes (garlic, lemon etc), Italian mixes (oregano, basil ..), Turkish, etc.

              2. You may find some information in this paper that recently came out:

                Flavor network and the principles of food pairing
                The cultural diversity of culinary practice, as illustrated by the variety of regional cuisines, raises the question of whether there are any general patterns that determine the ingredient combinations used in food today or principles that transcend individual tastes and recipes. We introduce a flavor network that captures the flavor compounds shared by culinary ingredients. Western cuisines show a tendency to use ingredient pairs that share many flavor compounds, supporting the so-called food pairing hypothesis. By contrast, East Asian cuisines tend to avoid compound sharing ingredients. Given the increasing availability of information on food preparation, our data-driven investigation opens new avenues towards a systematic understanding of culinary practice.


                Their references section also has a large number of sources you may want to also track down. Their RIS format for citation is downloadable, if you are working on a paper be sure to cite extensively if you do use it, as it has gotten enough notice that I would wager most professors who are interested in flavor profiles/food pairing have read it.

                5 Replies
                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    Awesome, and very useful to banish the OP's castles in the air attitude about the ongoing problem with culinary customs.

                  2. re: khuzdul

                    I love the fact that 'authenticity' can be expressed mathematically!

                    1. re: khuzdul

                      Wow! With the references, there is a whole seminar course's worth of learning here.

                      1. re: khuzdul

                        Very interesting!! Thanks for posting this.

                      2. already done ad nauseum, but...

                        They want to put honey-scented orange juice where the recipes demand coco butter. Is that not okay?

                        You can do anything you want. You can take my recipe for brownies -- replace the butter with coconut oil; replace the cocoa powder with pineapple powder, the semisweet chocolate with milk, the flour with hazelnut meal, and the salt with garam masala... you can bake it up. But it won't be brownies. Cooks, bakers, culinarily incline people - over time they've categorized different types of products, upon which there are variations. A cookie is a dough, stiffer than a cake, but has a spectrum. A brownie, an omelette, pasta... These are names we've attached to a category of products. It makes it easier when I go into a restaurant and order an omelette, that I'm pretty much able to anticipate what will be on my plate, the spectrum of preparations inclusive. We have names for foods. You can do whatever you like at any time; you can give it its own name; you can explain to people what is in it. If I saw Paradise Chicken on a menu, I wouldn't know what it was. You explain it, and you've coined your own new dish.

                        Cook whatever you want. Who cares what people think? Who is stopping you?

                        1. The Splendid Table interviewed Stefan Gates

                          "British chef and maverick, Stefan Gates plays with his food and brings glow-in-the-dark jello to parties. Gates teaches us the art of the interactive meal with his new book, The Extraordinary Cookbook: How to Make Meals Your Friends Will Never Forget. "

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: paulj

                            Whatever else Gates is, he isnt a chef. Isn't one, never has been one. Food writer - yes. Chef - no.