I treated myself to a little present last week: The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, and oh my, what a book. The concept is so refreshingly simple that it is hard to imagine why anyone has not previously come up with the idea before.
She categorises 99 well loved and well used ingredients into flavour ‘types’ and explains which ingredients work well together and why, pair by pair.
This is not your traditional cook book – don’t expect pictures or step by step meal plans. Segnit has, instead taken cooking down to its bare bones and allows your imagination to do the rest. This is in stark contrast to the likes of Deila Smith, who assumes you don’t know your arse from your elbow when it comes to cooking when she created her cheats guide to cooking which included putting a jar of pre-made sauce on a load of frozen vegetables that can only be bought from Waitrose…
Segnit’s writing is witty, informal and knowledgeable. She glides from giving the reader a brief history of the ingredient in question, though to a list of other ingredients it goes well with, with the odd recipe thrown in for good measure.
It works very well as a reference guide for those times when you have odd ingredients that need using up in your fridge and no idea how to use them or what to marry them with. For those who like to experiment and adapt recipes: it is the ultimate companion.
While meat and fish are included in some of the parings, this book should not put off vegetarians as the majority of the book focuses on non meat and fish flavours.
I can see the Flavour Thesaurus quickly becoming a modern classic that will hopefully spark creativity amongst amateur cooks thanks to its helpful tips and guidance.