We are blessed to be living in an era of multimedia, immigration and sharing online everything we eat. This means that people are more curious about different cuisines, and I find it fascinating that our palates can adapt to food migrations so easily.
Australia is probably the most interesting place in the world to watch how our cultures are mixing. Each wave of immigration comes with its own traditions. These traditions become trends, and these trends eventually become mainstream. Both home cooks and restaurant-goers alike can get bolder with their dish choices and flavors, with the help of a little science. Ready to get adventurous?
On an Aussie’s plate
In the last thirty years, migration has had a tremendously positive impact on Australia’s culinary map.
In the ’60s and ’70s, Anglo-Saxon Aussie’s were cooking up meat and three veg (inherited from the English). Then, French chefs arrived with elegance and fine dining. For a long time, French cuisine was the only solid restaurant experience you could get in Australia.
Very slowly, the central business district changed, and more people decided to live closer to cities or in the business districts. Restaurants of many ethnicities started to pop up everywhere. I believe that this is why the cuisine in the homes of everyday Australians has diversified and evolved.
When the Italians came, they brought garlic and Mediterranean herbs. They established themselves in the fruit and veg markets, and dominated the café culture in Melbourne before exporting it to Sydney.
Asians brought chilies, ginger and a technique of drying fish.
Over the past few years, modern Mexican restaurants have been popping up around the city, creating a cult-like following where you often have to queue down the street just to get a table! We’re seeing the same thing happen now with Middle Eastern cuisine.
The diverse selection of cuisines gives Aussie food lovers an opportunity to mix and match ingredients in interesting ways.
On the molecular level
I want to share some unusual and cool flavor pairings that I’ve discovered through cooking and experimenting with food. These flavors have been tried and tested in the culinary world. The chemistry is natural when the aromas complement each other.
The aroma profile of culinary ingredients is an essential starting point because aromas are the key drivers of our flavor experience. According to Hervé This, the molecular gastronomy expert, nearly all of what we call taste is actually aroma. We are able to differentiate up to 10,000 smells, which are also known as odors, scents and fragrances and consist of one or more aroma molecules.
There is a lot of science to aromas that’s another story for another day. Right now we’re going to play with food.
My Top 10 best food pairings:
- Strawberry – chocolate
- Green beans – orange – hazelnut
- Eggplant – goat cheese – pomegranate
- Crab – mango – chili – coconut – algae
- Beef – cucumber – fish sauce – lime – cilantro
- Oyster – passion fruit
- Camembert- tomato – ginger – peach – mint
- Guava – salmon – fennel – fava bean – wakame
- Peach – lavender – star anise – vanilla
- Watermelon – raspberry – rosemary
The list is endless, and so is our creativity. Let yourself be transported by a new culture’s techniques, customs and flavors. Don’t be scared of your thoughts. Just give it a try, because you never know. You might be creating a new trend!
For example, you may know the first pairing pretty well – there’s nothing like a fresh strawberry dipped in delicious chocolate. You can experiment with different kinds of chocolate and toppings for even better flavors.
And if you’re looking for inspiration on the other pairings, I have you covered. I’ll be sharing suggestions or recipes for each in the coming weeks.
Enjoy, and please share with us all of your crazy creations. I want to try them!