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What is the most analytical theory available for why recipes will taste good, such that they could be designed ahead of time and predicted to be tasty, and explained why?

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  • For a geeky approach: xkcd.com/720
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 18, 2021 at 21:44
  • Don't you think "experience" will always define the "determining factors"? Could there be any exception other than a 'periodic table of ingredients' that somehow over-rode personal taste? Nov 18, 2021 at 21:50

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It is incorrect to assume that there is no theory about the pairing of ingredients that result in a tasty recipe. Of course, many factors are at play when determining which ingredients work well together when combined. Ingredients that are commonly cultivated or harvested in close proximity were often historically used together, for example. This created a culturally accepted range of flavors, that became expected or understood to work. You may have heard the adage, "if it grows together, it goes together." There is something to it, generally speaking, of course.

However, more to your point, there are also some folks looking at the chemistry. These folks have been working at it for a while as well. It is an interesting question, with a theory, and the scientific testing of the theory that, I believe, is on-going.

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Short answer: No.

Long answer: Humans can taste/smell hundreds of different flavors representing thousands of different compounds. What "tastes good" or not is as much a matter of experience and acclimatization as it is anything inherent.

As such, there is no universal theory of "what tastes good", nor could there be.

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