My teeth pierce the crisp outer shell and sink through a fine layer of honey-infused dough, allowing the creme fraiche with its precious cargo of glossy caviar to spill over my tongue. The little black pearls pop like starbursts between my teeth, each sending a salty hit into the creamy, crispy, fluffy mix.
Chef Eduard Xatruch of Disfrutar in Barcelona likes to call this dish “the best sandwich in the world.” I choose to fondly remember it as a fried pillow of joy sent from heaven to save my tastebuds from yet another plate of patatas bravas.
The pairing of flavors has been going on ever since people put food to mouth. But in recent years, the science of it has become big business, and considering the thousands of years that humans have been eating, it’s still in its infancy.
After several years working for WalMart corporate headquarters, Robert Pellegrino was hungry for a different type of challenge.
Having worked as a sous-chef for a few restaurants while in college, he considered going to culinary school. After some research, though, he decided to pursue food science.
Each fall, as leaves turn golden and the crisp autumn air carries the scent of pine, Catherine Franssen waits for her husband to bring home the latest pumpkin spice-flavored concoction he has discovered at the grocery store.
Mary Ellen Camire is professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine. She’s also the director of the University of Maine Sensory Evaluation Center, where much of her research focuses on how consumers respond to Maine-specific commodities, like seaweed, potatoes, berries and grains. We talked with her about her background in nutrition, why where you eat matters when you are taste testing and how the lab works with new local foods.
Aficionados use words like “oaky” to describe some wines, or “hoppy” when talking about certain beers. But for rum—a product with over 1,000 different varieties—putting the words together to describe what imbibers are smelling and tasting is a bit more difficult.