Salt and pepper have been best buds for… well, a really long time. You can never find one without the other close by. However, these guys have an interesting relationship. Salt and pepper are oh so different from each other, yet they still somehow work incredibly well together.
It’s all about balance, the ying and the yang. When presented in the right proportions, salt’s pungent zing is rounded out by pepper’s characteristic spice. Alone they are good, but together they can really create some magic. In my opinion, balance is the single most important concept in the art of creating food.
Take the famous peanut butter and jelly, for example. Your first component is the dense and salty peanut butter (I’m a chunky fan myself). Sure, the stuff is marvelous on its own, but how can we step it up even further? What can we add to compliment the peanut butter and enhance the final product? Once again, we play the balancing act. Dense, salty, nutty? Okay, let’s achieve perfect harmony with something totally opposite: light, sweet, and tart jelly (I’ll take grape, please).
It’s such a simple concept, but it works time and time again. If you feel that your dish is missing something, I would first check for proper seasoning. If seasoning is not the problem, your mind should drift into the zen-filled land of balance and harmony. Ask yourself: how can I get there? How can I tip the scales in favor of my taste buds? Simply based on my own judgment, there are three different components that can be balanced.
The first is flavor, which is easily the most difficult to balance. The second is texture, which is more simple but just as important. The last one, which is probably utilized the least, is temperature (think sour cream on a hot bowl of chili).
That being said, these three components do not necessarily have a place in everything you eat (I would prefer nothing cold in my bowl of soup, please). However, when looking to improve your dish, they should all be considered.
Let’s go back to the chili example. Right now you have the hot, savory chili balanced by the cold and tart sour cream. Its good, but the texture is rather… homogeneous. Without much thought, you grab the tortilla chips, and all of the sudden your chili is that much more enjoyable.
See what you did there? You’re a f**king culinary genius. You have brought balance to your bowl of chili by introducing the crunch factor. Toss in some green onions and cheddar cheese and you have what I consider to be the perfect bowl of chili.
I write this as if I’m an expert on the subject, but really I’m just a rookie that finds excitement in this kind of stuff. Do you realize what kind of opportunity lies within the average grocery store? There are countless of ingredients at our disposal, resulting in an almost infinite number of possible combinations.
Granted, the vast majority of these combinations will be terrible, but the exciting part is that it is totally possible to create something that is both delicious and original.
You see popular new food trends everyday: smoothie bowls, sushiritos, cronuts, you name it. The next big thing is waiting to be made. It just takes someone inspired to make it happen. Now go hop in your car and get to buying groceries.