Monday, 8 November 2010


This intriguing book was given to me as a birthday gift by fellow foodie and Waterstones manager, Nick. We had talked about it when it was first published, and I admit I was curious, though felt it might be just another food book to clutter up my already groaning bookshelves..... In fact, it is a thoroughly good read - well-researched and entertaining, and, like a proper Thesaurus, useful.

The author, Niki Segnit, has taken 99 flavours (including coffee, chocolate, earthy, spicy, cheesy, meaty) and grouped them into hundreds of pairings, each with an elegant mini-essay, some containing concise recipes embedded within the text, others with fascinating and often very entertaining information or anecdotes relating to the foodstuff being described. Many of the pairings are nothing new, especially to a keen cook like myself, but it is the witty, fleshing out of these pairings which makes this book such a gem. I read it in bed last night, and actually laughed out loud at some of the descriptions:

Black Pudding & Shellfish: A modern classic. In fancy restaurants, pale scallop is often found perched, trembling like an ingenue, on filthy old black pudding's knee.

Presented in the manner of a serious reference book, rather than a cookbook, The Flavour Thesaurus is not illustrated, and it is something of a relief not to be bombarded with 'food porn' on every page (though I never tire of seeing pictures of the buxom Nigella and her equally buxom food). And the tone is often tongue-in-cheek, or at least ironic, which prevents this book from sounding overly high-brow and pretentious.

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