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The Flavour Thesaurus - Niki Segnit

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Genre: Cooking / Author: Niki Segnit / Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC / Released: 21.06.2010

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      29.07.2012 23:54
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      interesting, unusual book and worth having despite faults

      Just as the title suggests, this is less a cookbook and more one of ideas and inspiration. Segnit orders ingredients into ''taste families'' (green, earthy, cheese etc) and shows how cuisines, chefs and styles combined those in dishes. There are only limited recipes (many vague) so it's not quite a book to ''cook from'', and it's not a book for a novice cook. For anybody that feels fairly confident in the kitchen and would like to widen their repertoire or experiment, it will work well. I like the fact that Segnit frequently references Mexican and Far Eastern/Japanese ways, as I am not very familiar with these food cultures. I also liked the scientific and historical background info. The number of ingredients is limited and the ''flavour wheel'' is a gimmick but overall it's still worth buying, especially as it's a handsome volume (and blessedly with no photos). [this reviews was originally written for the Olympic Sprint dooyoo competition, trying to provide a useful opinion in fewer than 150 words, following on is a slight elaboration] The style of the Thesaurus appeals to me (Segnit worked in marketing, but the book has no PR or marketing-speak taint to it), being a mixture of scientific, ethnographic and gourmand. I didn't really mind the fact that even when recipes were given, they were often imprecise. In most cases cooking doesn't require precise measurements and it's bets to adjust to one's own preferences anyway. In the age of Internet, it's also possible to quickly look up a recipe for any dish under the sun. As all good cookery writers, Segnit has her own preferences and you might not share her likes and dislikes, but she's quite clear about them and she still covers some of the flavour combinations she dislikes. There is no silly food snobbery here either (though there is some, let's call it, gritty urban sophistication), and mercifully, there is none whatsoever references to what nowadays passes for healthy eating. All in all, an interesting, unusual book and worth having if you like reading about food and trying different ways of eating.

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