The Flavour Thesaurus by Nikki Segnit

The Flavour Thesaurus: Pairings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook
Nikki Segnit
Published by Bloomsbury
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A reference book for curious minds. Segnit selected 99 key “flavours” (for example chocolate, banana, truffle) and organised them into 16 categories (Roasted, Creamy Fruity, Sulphurous etc). The categories create a flavour wheel, where the last flavour in a category overlaps with the first flavour of the next category (for example blackberry in Bramble and Hedge is close to raspberry in Floral Fruity). Many of the pairings are obvious, though still helpful when you’re drawing a blank, but there are some novel ones too (caviar and banana? avocado and coffee?) as well as some that make you think “Oh yesss?! Good idea” (mint and black pudding, parsnip and anise, chestnut and lamb).

This is one to return to for ideas again and again. You might even consider buying a second copy for the loo – I find menu planning is sometimes best done outside of the kitchen.

Who should have it?

Cooks who like to improvise and work outside of the confines of a traditional recipe.

Recipes to look out for

There are recipes within the prose – see for example gallina en peptoria under the almond and chicken match, or coffee iced cardamom cake. But also many ideas among the pairings.

If you’re already a fan

Then other books which float ideas as well as prescribing precise recipes, are Oliver Rowe’s Food for All Seasons, and Nigel Slater’s Appetite.