Taste: A New Way to Cook by Sybil Kapoor ****
In a world full of cookbooks, Sybil Kapoor’s Taste: A New Way to Cook is truly innovative. Kapoor writes from a far more scientific perspective than most food writers, explaining in great detail about the elementary tastes of sour, salt, umani (savoury), bitter and sweet. She helps the reader to understand basic taste combinations and how these work to enhance and compliment each other.
A chapter is given to each taste, with salt and umani combined, plus one on how chilli heightens taste awareness and another on how aromatic ingredients – spices and herbs – have an impact on each of the five tastes.
Taste: A New Way to Cook is photographed like the science book that it is closer to than a cookbook. But there are also recipes for each chapter, carefully chosen to highlight whichever taste Kapoor is focusing on.
This is not an easy read, and it can be somewhat confusing, but it is always truly intriguing. This is a book to return to again and again as Kapoor suggests experiments and combinations to try and you start making sense of her statements in your own head. This, rather than atomic particles or the table of the elements is the part of science that makes most sense to me. Informatively educational.