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Food-bridging: a new network construction to unveil the principles of cooking

Tiago Simas, Michal Ficek, Albert Diaz-Guilera, Pere Obrador, Pablo R. Rodriguez

posted on 17 April 2017

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In this manuscript we propose, analyse, and discuss a possible new principle behind traditional cuisine: the Food-bridging hypothesis and its comparison with the food-pairing hypothesis using the same dataset and graphical models employed in the food-pairing study by Ahn et al. [Scientific Reports, 1:196 (2011)].
The Food-bridging hypothesis assumes that if two ingredients do not share a strong molecular or empirical affinity, they may become affine through a chain of pairwise affinities. That is, in a graphical model as employed by Ahn et al., a chain represents a path that joints the two ingredients, the shortest path represents the strongest pairwise chain of affinities between the two ingredients.
Food-pairing and Food-bridging are different hypotheses that may describe possible mechanisms behind the recipes of traditional cuisines. Food-pairing intensifies flavour by mixing ingredients in a recipe with similar chemical compounds, and food-bridging smoothes contrast between ingredients. Both food-pairing and food-bridging are observed in traditional cuisines, as shown in this work.
We observed four classes of cuisines according to food-pairing and food-bridging: (1) East Asian cuisines, at one extreme, tend to avoid food-pairing as well as food-bridging; and (4) Latin American cuisines, at the other extreme, follow both principles. For the two middle classes: (2) Southeastern Asian cuisines, avoid food-pairing and follow food-bridging; and (3) Western cuisines, follow food-pairing and avoid food-bridging.

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