The importance of smell and aroma
Through our sense of smell we are able to differentiate up to 10.000 different odors. Odors are also known as smells, scents or fragrances and consist of one or more aroma molecules.
Aromas are volatile and reach our sense of smell through the air we inhale. We perceive aromas both through the nose (orthonasal) and through the mouth (retronasal).
Aromas are the key drivers of our flavour experience and therefore crucial for the synergy of food and drinks. As much as 80% of what we call taste is actually aroma.
An example: Think about the smell of coffee. Containing over 1000 aromas, coffee has a nice strong roasted smell. Now take a sip of your coffee with your nose closed and this will turn your coffee into a bitter drink.
the aroma profile of ingredients
The aroma profile of culinary ingredients is the starting point of Foodpairing® and the scientific research. As a first step, Foodpairing® determines the aroma profile of a specific ingredient — like a simple strawberry — through gas chromatography coupled mass spectrometry (GC-MS).
From these results, our Foodpairing® scientists extract the aroma data relevant to the human sense of smell.
A strawberry contains a few dozen of different aromas. However, in reality only a couple of aromas stand out clearly and determine that precise strawberry smell.
aromas relevant for the human sense of smell
An aroma has to reach a certain threshold in a specific ingredient to be sensible by humans. Through enhancing interactions, some aromas that are below this threshold do generate a detectable smell.
As we can see from the chart, it’s mainly the fruity, cheesy, green and roasted aromas that are the key aromasdefiningthe specific smell of strawberry.
calculation of pairings
As a second step, the Foodpairing® team uses scientific techniques such as data analysis and machine learning to create algorithms calculating how well foods & drinks match.
Years of research by Foodpairing® led to the following conclusion:
When different foods share certain key aromas they are more likely to pair well in a recipe.
We all know the classic combination of strawberry and chocolate. Its mainly the shared roastedaromas connecting these ingredients.Strawberry also matches to parmesan through cheesyaromas or to basil via citrus aromas.
That's how Foodpairing® confirms the traditional pairings we know, while also revealing non-traditional and surprising combinations.