As sometimes happens when everything is going along fine, I had a great idea, I started investigating it, and was so utterly amazed and horrified by what I found I spent the next week hiding under my desk, fending off intruders with a paddle ball toy. In this case, it was the concept of food pairing.
Food pairing, or ‘foodpairing’ as it is known by the shadowy people who run your life, is the concept that matching certain flavour components in different foodstuffs will create brand new flavour sensations. At this very minute there are very well funded teams of experts using dedicated gas chromatographs and mass spectrometers to bring you ever closer to ultimate snack nirvana. Isn’t that nice of them?
We’d better pray heroin never becomes legalized. Again. Imagine what Monsanto could do with a market like that.
Food pairing, in the more benign sense which was the basis of my great idea, is the matching of one ingredient with another ingredient to create a sensation that is surprising and ultimately rewarding. It’s what chefs do when they are feeling creative instead of efficient. Some chefs I know like to do this by smell, and the results are usually wondrous (smell being a much more sensitive sense than taste). I like to do it by trial and error.
Back when I was 35, I planned a 36 course dinner for my 36th birthday. This never happened. Yes, I am still 35. And now I realize 36 courses are a dumb idea (who said being 35 twice doesn’t bring wisdom?). Late the other night, though, I had a brilliant idea: a food pairing party! (This was before I looked up the concept of ‘foodpairing’ on wikipedia and was creeped out by how seriously people with large stakes in the industrial sector take this shit.)
The rules of such a party would be very simple:
1.) You do not talk about the food pairing party.
2.) You do not talk about the food pairing party.
3.) You are allowed to talk about the food pairing party as long as it’s praise and will get more people reading my blog.
4.) Each micro-course will consist of two ingredients paired together.
5.) The courses will be very, very small. That’s why I said ‘micro.’
6.) Processed ingredients are permissible, e.g. toasted nori, chocolate truffles.
7.) Given rule (6), the ingredients should be as simple, recognizable in their unique identity, and unadulterated as possible.
8.) The best and most unusual pairing wins.
So here is where I need your help. You can respond to me here, or on Facebook, or in person, but please respond! I need many, many different pairings to pull this off. So far, I have come up with:
Dried Shredded Squid and Fish Tale Ale
Dried shredded squid is a bar snack common in Asia and Hawaii. The basic idea is that it is salty, which makes you want to drink more beer (hey, it’s more interesting than peanuts). I envision a single thread of dried squid and a single 2-oz shot glass of ale.
Caviar and White Chocolate
The original weirdo combination that sparked the entire concept of food pairing, invented by Heston Blumenthal, chef of The Fat Duck in England.
Smoked Salmon and Caper Butter
Salmon and capers are a match made in heaven. There will be no crackers allowed. That would make it food trioing.
Chocolate and Orange
A timeless classic. A single mandarin slice, dipped in chocolate and frozen.
And that’s as far as I’ve got. Suggestions please. I might even invite you to the party.