Reviews

Umapagan Ampikaipakan, The New Straits Times (Malaysia), 4 January 2012
Segnit has crafted an absolute wonder of a book….With The Flavour Thesaurus, Segnit has written what is, hands down, one of the most exciting books to grace the cookery section in a very long time. It is unique. It is novel. It is unprecedented. It is a how-to guide. It is a pop-history of the food we eat. It is less of a recipe book as it is a nudge in the right direction. On what goes with what. On why one flavour works with another. On what to do with that globe artichoke that’s been lying in your crisper for the last week.

Atul Kochhar, The Times, 7 December 2011
The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit is my favourite book. It has all the elements that allow one to pair the right flavours without making a mess. This book guides one’s imagination and creativity to hugely successful results. Follow this book and you will impress your guests like never before.

John Torode, Daily Mail Weekend Magazine, 17 September 2011
Every cook should own a copy of Niki Segnit’s brilliant book The Flavour Thesaurus, which explains why certain foods work well together. With 200 recipe ideas, and 99 ingredients with classic and unusual flavour matches for each, this book will revolutionise your cooking.

Fiona Beckett, Decanter, June 2011
Endearingly quirky…erudite, original and funny.

John Lethlean, The Australian, 26 March 2011
The Flavour Thesaurus is unlike any other food book I’ve seen…Ms Segnit has a delightful turn of phrase…But there is so much substance to go with her style…[The Flavour Thesaurus] could lead to some rather interesting lateral cooking experiments. Strap yourself in. No pictures required.

Theyiesinuo Keditsu, Morung Express (India)
Those who love reading will agree that every once in a while serendipity brings us in contact with a book, so ingenious, so well written that nothing short of memorizing passages can do it justice. The Flavour Thesaurus is one such book…a thrilling read.

Regina Schrambling, Epicurious, 23 March 2011
The smartest, most original compendium I’ve come across in donkey’s years. It’s not a formulaic collection of recipes with variations but a rich and witty and erudite collection of suggestions for arranged marriages of the very best kind: food on food…the kitchen equivalent of Match.com.

Amy Guth, Chicago Tribune, 12 January 2011
With utmost respect for classic pairings, Segnit boldly considers the chemistry and harmony of flavor and, ventures into unusual combinations for a perfect reference for the aspiring foodie.

Martha Stewart’s Whole Living
The cure for dinner ennui…a cheekily erudite, endlessly fascinating master list of flavor pairings both familiar and surprising…the entries get you dreaming of both exotic feasts and after-work comfort foods.

Mark Petruska, Sacramento Book Review, 8 January 2011
An extremely informative and useful encyclopedia for the kitchen…Brown bag lunch moms and foodies alike will find The Flavor Thesaurus an indispensable reference for years to come.

Nathalie Atkinson, The National Post (Canada), 30 December 2010
How I wish I had thought of this book. Segnit offers nearly 1000 combinations around individual entries for 99 different flavours. But the taste profiles and pairings aren’t the best part. The mix of science, anthropology and adventuresomeness is. Both an indispensable reference book and bedtime reading for sweet foodster dreams.

Jane Shilling, Daily Mail, 24 December 2010
An ingenious compendium of flavour pairings…persuasive, original and funny – the perfect foodie present.

Aram Bakshian, The Wall Street Journal, 18 December 2010
To savor “The Flavor Thesaurus” fully it helps to think of its author, Niki Segnit, as a culinary marriage broker. An imaginative but practical matchmaker, she has a gift for pairing sometimes lackluster ingredients in a way that brings out the best in them and makes them more appealing as a couple than they ever were as loners…Even experienced home cooks will find much that is new and challenging here…[Niki Segnit] shares an eloquent vocabulary with us in this delicious book.

Huffington Post, 5 December 2010
The Flavor Thesaurus is named one of the HuffPost’s 25 best cookbooks of 2010.

Tim Hayward, Times Literary Supplement, 5 December 2010
Most [of the entries] are garnished with Segnit’s sharp observations, and many are little personal essays of informative and inspiring erudition…The Flavour Thesaurus entertains, informs and, most importantly, inspires.

Anne Kingston, Macleans Magazine (Canada), 25 November 2010
The Flavour Thesaurus
passes the great-food-book litmus test: it’s equally at home on a kitchen or a bedside table. Segnit’s playful prose is witty and erudite, her research, inventive.

Nigel Slater, Observer New Review Best Books of the Year, 14 November 2010
The books I value most are those I return to again and again. Such has been the case with The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit (Bloomsbury). It has intrigued, inspired, amused and occasionally infuriated me all year, and will for years to come.

Kate Winslet, Harper’s Bazaar, December 2010
I’m a huge fan of cookery recipes, and I heartily recommend The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. It lists more than 4,000 possible combinations of 99 flavours, with lots of recipes to inspire you.

Elisabeth Luard, The Scotsman, 11 December 2010
My own must-have of the year is Nikki Segnit’s witty, idiosyncratic Flavour Thesaurus: a neat, near-pocket-sized compendium of what-works-with-what with attitude – cumin is fabulous with carrot and beetroot with chocolate is yucky… my feelings exactly.

Fuchsia Dunlop, Financial Times, 26 November 2010
Wittily written and peppered with fascinating facts and cooking suggestions. With its wide range of sources and inspirations, it has the air of an old-fashioned miscellany. A fun and often eyebrow-raising read.

Ian Tucker, Observer Food Monthly, The 25 Best Cookbooks of 2010, 14 November 2010
Something different for your pal with a fridge-full of cookbooks. A forensic yet fun exploration of flavour combinations and why they work, from the usual (lamb and mint) to the unlikely (watermelon and oyster).

Easy Living, December 2010
This is a genius new approach to cooking; it lists 99 ingredients and the best possible things each goes with. Have some beetroot in your fridge? Look up its entry and find not just the obvious goat’s cheese, but also orange, dill, anchovy, coconut, chocolate… Forget formal recipes, it’s about experimenting once you know what works together. This will change the lives of both the gleefully imaginative and the trepidatious cook.

Polly Campbell, Cincinnati Enquirer
One of the most fascinating food books I’ve come across in a long time.

Denver Post, 3 November 2010
Fascinating…a smart new reference for what goes with what, along with pithy explanations for why.

Ginny Wolter, Library Journal, 1 November 2010
[Segnit’s] intuitive approach produces a cozy collection of description, anecdotes, and recipes within the flavor combination entries…Segnit’s intimate style makes the book enjoyable as well as useful. This handy little guide will be a wonderful addition for cooks trying to expand their repertoire.

Marie-Claire Digby, Irish Times, 2 October 2010
A really clever concept…This quirky book is great to dip into for occasional inspiration and education, as well as broadening your culinary repertoire.

The Independent 50 Best Cookbooks, 25 September 2010
This is an anti-recipe book…Once you crack its Roget’s Thesaurus organisation, which leads you to thousands of flavour combinations, you’ll stumble across so many wonderful suggestions. 

Liz Hoggard, London Evening Standard, 20 August 2010
For culinary geeks, the new bible is Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus, an exquisite guide to flavour combining where she takes 99 popular kitchen ingredients and explains why they work…But she also adds anecdotes about her life that bring the recipes alive…the book is wonderfully poetic.

Kate Colquhoun, The Sunday Times, 27 June 2010
Taste is an arbitrary thing. One man’s nirvana is another woman’s Hades. But if, like me, you agree that the lemony sharpness of goat’s cheese works well with ingredients such as beetroot, butternut squash or good bread and honey, and that lamb and apricots – as John Lanchester wrote – “seem to partake of a higher order of inevitability” than even bacon and eggs, then Niki Segnit’s ingenious The Flavour Thesaurus is the book for you.

The fact is, some flavour combinations just seem “righter” than others. Master these, and you are a cook liberated from clinging to the detailed instructions of a recipe book. Segnit has set about putting some of these combinations into an organised lexicon that – like most successfully original ideas – leaves you wondering why nobody has really attempted it before. She includes both seductive pairings and those that are unusually alarming, reminding us that some tastes, like rosewater, are languid and subtle while others, such as anchovy or the ferrous kick of beef, sharpen you up. They can all be transporting. It’s just a matter of choosing the right mate.

Segnit’s organising principle is to slot 99 ingredients into families that include sulphurous (brassicas, egg, truffle), floral fruity (vanilla, fig, coriander seed) and green and grassy (avocado, pea, anise). The highly complex tones of peanuts thus work well with rich meats, sweet shellfish and sharp fruits – apple and lime, for example; while chicken (the bland “magnolia” of meats) balances with just about anything the world over.

Counterintuitive combinations can work wonders. Think anchovy and roast lamb: the fish melts into the meat “and intensifies the flavour with a mouthwateringly rich, savoury saltiness” as terrific with the meat as those other more traditionally feisty tastes, garlic and rosemary. She recommends adding a few types of chocolate to your cheeseboard; forget apple, pear or walnut and go for the “revelatory” pairing of piquant cow’s milk cheese with bitter 85% Valrhona African. Or, since they share many flavour compounds, try substituting strawberries for tomatoes: according to Segnit, strawberry, avocado and mozzarella is a “no brainer”.

A clear disciple of that “scholar cook” Elizabeth David, Segnit reminds us that watercress liquidised with soured cream and a pinch of salt makes a sauce “as refreshing as dandling your feet in the river on a hot afternoon”. In her wry hands, the smell of a pâté of chicken liver, garlic, brandy and thyme is like the belch of a galumphing gourmet giant. Citral, a key compound in lemon flavour, is often synthesised for use in cleaning fluids, and the flavour of cumin is regularly compared to dirty socks, yet she is right; the two make a heavenly marinade for fish or lamb.

With a supple blend of passion and precision, Segnit trawls the world’s cuisines from southeast Asia to Mexico and the Mughal empire, wading through recipe collections and restaurant menus. Larding the book with gleanings from literature and the chemist’s lab, and spicing it all with a dollop of personal prejudice, the result is an eclectic combination of dictionary, recipe book, travelogue and memoir.

Erudite and inspiring, practical and fun, it will make you salivate, laugh, take issue and feel vindicated. Your synapses will fire in a whole new way as your trail your hand through your garden herbs. Importantly, it will also make you long to get back in the kitchen to sample one of the broadbrush recipes: try the saffron cake that marries the militant, tobaccoey bitterness of saffron with the sweetness of ground almonds and sponge.

Segnit does for flavour what Lucca Turin achieved for scent in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, but her book should come with a warning: open these pages at the peril of being late for your next appointment. If you care about these things – or even just want to care – you’ll need at least three copies: one each for the kitchen, bathroom and bedside table. The Flavour Thesaurus is a deceptively simple little masterpiece, set to take its place by McGee on Food and Cooking as a household Bible.

Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian, 17 July 2010
This superb book…is not so much a cookbook as an inventory of human inspiration. Or, indeed, even of divine inspiration….As you cannot write with scientific objectivity about taste without risking dullness, the best approach is anecdotal, and this is where Segnit’s book is elevated beyond mere usefulness to delight…Even if you know your 4,851 flavour pairings backwards to the point of ennui, or, conversely, have no intention whatsoever of cooking anything in your life, this is still a book that can be read for pleasure alone. It is as if she has made up her mind to do with her prose what her book invites us to do: to make combinations which both surprise and work…everything here is just right.

William Skidelsky, The Observer, 27 June 2010
A marvellous idea…One of the delights of Segnit’s book is the way it combines an air of empirical exactitude with something more loose-limbed and poetic…Segnit is blessed with an ear for figurative language…At the same time, she doesn’t stint on the science…throughout the book displays impressive learning.

Gareth Groves, Bibendum Times, 11 August 2010
This is a fabulous book: original, witty, insightful and useful…what stops it becoming merely a dry, reference book for food geeks (although the latter will love it) and turns it into something all together more pleasurable is Segnit’s delicious prose…In amongst the humour and anecdotes, you’ll find plenty of robust history and science. Segnit has clearly done her research. Her gift is to present it in a way that informs and educates whilst making you smile and your belly rumble…Wonderful stuff. Buy the book.

The Independent, 6 June 2010
If your food obsession is ready to move to the next level, you need The Flavour Thesaurus … it investigates why certain flavours work so well together (lamb and mint for instance), offers more quirky combos and is the perfect manual for experimental cooks. Anyone for black pudding and chocolate?

The Spectator, 26 June 2010
The Flavour Thesaurus…contains more than 150 recipes subtly interwoven into Niki Segnit’s compelling prose exploring the world of flavour… This imaginative and beautiful little book deserves a place on the shelves of every serious home cook.

The Scotsman, 26 June 2010
Pork and apple, lamb with apricot, chocolate and chilli. When it comes to food there are pairings that are made in heaven and there are flavours that won’t go together, however much a chef tries to push the boundaries. Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus is a compendium of all possible taste partnerships, how they work together and why. We can’t wait to test out some of the suggestions, such as goat’s cheese and garlic pizza.

Homes & Gardens, 1 July 2010
Talented cooks know how to put together different flavours in a way that excites the palate. With Niki Segnit’s fascinating book The Flavour Thesaurus, we can all take cooking to the next level. This fascinating manual explores appealing combinations, from classic pairings such as pork and apple to the more unusual marriage of beef and lemon.

GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow’s weekly newsletter
For new cooks and old hands in the kitchen, this book is a must-have and a must-read. Not only are the flavor combinations and recipes offered useful, but Niki Segnit’s descriptions of each and every one are delightful to read. It’s a combination between a bedtime read and a kitchen companion.

A Little Bird, 18 July 2010
Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus is a culinary guide to what goes with what.  If that sounds a bit drab, don’t be fooled.  The book is a revelation, whether you are interested in food or not.  It is packed with history, literary references, lore, wonderful recipes and personal anecdotes – and is informed by both scholarly knowledge and scrupulous research, all of which it wears lightly.  Some of it is very funny.  Look up Apple and Blackberry for a laugh; Beef and Liver for a Saul Bellow hit, Pea and Rosemary for a delicious soup recipe or Parsnip and Banana for a little history.  Those are just random pickings.  Heston Blumenthal has decreed that all his staff must read it. And Segnit is about to start a food column for The Times on the back of it.  A fantastic book.  A great present too.

Booklist
Any aspiring culinary student will find this an invaluable reference work, and many home cooks may find equal inspiration in Segnit’s creative ruminations.

3 Responses to Reviews

  1. The latest Review in Restaurant Guides Newsletter
    http://www.restaurant-guide.com/newsletter-uk.htm

    I don’t know if anybody else has had this brainwave, as well as Niki Segnit, but if they have I wonder if they made as good a job of it as Niki has done? This is a book that deals with the inter-relations between various types of ingredients, explores possibilities that even Heston Blumenthal might not yet have fantasised about, and leaves the reader free to comment time and again, “yes, of course why didn’t I think about that?”

    In some ways it is an affirmation of what we instinctively may have felt when using recipes or even making our own. In an attractive hardback volume of 400 pages touchingly dedicated to “. . . my cooking advisor and mother, Marian Stevens, and my writing advisor and husband, Nat Segnit”, Niki has taken 99 flavours, though she admits this was partly an arbitrary choice and had a wonderful time, I should think, exploring what goes with which and coming up with some exciting opinions and matches.

    The book is highly kitted up for purposes of reference and regulars will find it a real joy to use, quite apart from the products created. An extensive bibliography pays tribute to a great range of reference sources, essential information to a food writer or scholar. Next comes a recipe index, which includes little two line give-aways such as ‘bananas ordaining as nuns’ which pairs coconut and bananas, to more elaborate affairs such as shellfish and pork combined in a stew with clams, pepper and onions from Portugal.

    A pairings index takes away a lot of what might have been pain in using this attractive and friendly book, and a general index takes care of everything else. The chapter headings, if they can be called that appeal to the senses before you even open them – take for instance Citrussy, Green and Grassy, Sulphurous, and Earthy, all of which have immediate access to a sense of appeal.

    The Flavour Thesaurus is without doubt destined to become a valuable book of reference to professional and amateur alike. Described in the Sunday Times as ‘A deceptively simple little masterpiece’, the kick is in the word ‘deceptively’. There is a real wealth of information, experience and some delightful bits of speculation to season the whole. The worlds of cooking, and more widely food appreciation, have a great debt to Niki Segnit, who has created not only a masterpiece but also a very readable and linguistically tactile book of infinite pleasure.

    Review can be found at
    http://www.restaurant-guide.com/newsletter-uk.htm?id=118147

  2. This book is truly fantastic! I love creating recipes and it can help confirm ideas that pop into my head, or create entirely new ones for me. I’ve even done a blog post about it, as I really couldn’t cook without!

    See my review here!!!

    http://jessmesses.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-i-couldnt-cook-without.html

    Thanks Flavour Thesaurus, you’ve made my cooking life complete!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>