Building Flavor

People eat because they enjoy the flavors of good food, not just because they must fill their stomachs to stay alive. Appearance, texture, and nutrition are important, too, but good taste is the first mark of good cooking. Enhancement and adjustment of flavors is one of a cook's most critical tasks, one requiring experience and judgment.

The most important flavors of a given preparation are those of its main ingredients. A grilled beef tenderloin steak should taste like beef, green beans should taste like green beans, tomato soup should taste primarily of tomato. Plain, unseasoned foods,however, usually taste a little bland and one-dimensional, so it is the cook's job to add interest by combining ingredients to build depth of flavor. The harmony of ingredient flavors and aromas the cook creates by combining ingredients skillfully is sometimes called a flavor profile.

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