Blending flavors and hitting profiles that appeal to more people than not is an art of labor. There is a reason people are drawn to some foods and a reason that people don’t like others. The fun part comes in trying to figure out why. This task is easier when it comes to stronger flavors like ginger, pineapple and cilantro. It’s even easier when it comes to texture.

Most folks seem to split down the middle on these stronger flavors. A person will tolerate a bit of ginger, but too much and they start to describe it as soapy or perfume. You know that taste in your mouth when you walk past a perfume tester and it’s in the air? You inadvertently breathe it in and the oils coat your mouth. It’s like doing shots of rose water. It’s a coarse and abrasive experience and it makes me very happy that ginger doesn’t hit me this way.

Texture is usually a cakewalk. In general, people do not like slimy things. Thats a given. Snot like textures are generally not a hit. I’ve had some coconut waters with the pulp that hit this note and it stops me cold every time.

Then there’s the crunchy mixed with smooth crowd. I used to be one of them for years. I couldn’t handle any type of pasta or chicken salad. The celery or other vegetable being fresh tweaked my mind and made me want to sort the mix with my tongue into two separate encounters. I’m over all that now and have been really enjoying chicken salad made with veganaise.

And then there’s gristle. I’m still not a fan of it even though I’ve come a long way. You can judge a persons gristle threshold by how they clean their chicken wings. Are you a member of the clean bone club?

Back to flavor – what about hitting flavor profiles that appeal to the masses? Do they really have to be dumbed down until the first ingredients are salt, fat and sugar? I say no. There’s always a way to find balance and avoid the pitfalls of over-seasoning, it’s figuring out what your talking about and then, just getting there…

You walk into your favorite pizza place Saturday at 1:30p with your best group of friends. You’ve all been on a phenomenal streak with your health and everyone’s been eating super healthy for a solid month. No, seriously. You haven’t cheated, not once. Even your sodium count is right at the insanely rigid daily intake levels and you feel superb. Possibly better than you’ve ever felt before. And you’ve all decided that today, right now, this very moment in fact, that you will all order one small pie each and finish it. Your shields are up and everyone knows they will be able to deflect the attack. This is but a blip in the universe and not a pattern. While standing in line you listen as each person orders their special pizza with their favorite toppings. They each like different things. Some get sausage while others order onions, peppers and mushrooms and yet others get pineapple. Everyone knows what they like but suddenly you’re more curious as to why?

Thought experiment. Think of your favorite toppings and ask yourself why you enjoy them. Try to describe their flavor in your mind. It can be fun to consider what it is about pepperoni that you love. Why you like onions but never order them on pizza. What draws you to a thin crust or a deep dish. We generally cast these thoughts off as “I know what I like!” Not this time. Try to put some words to your feelings about food and maybe next time you’ll be able to find a new combination of toppings because you’ve considered how things work together, or not? These new combos may even¬†become your new favorites!

We’ll be at a few different events this Holiday Season but the next one chronologically will be at The Rosewood Holiday on December 7th. Come out and try some hot sauce, check out some art and lets talk food!

Thanks for reading,


Jeffrey McElfresh
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