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Many recipes for creamed spinach to cream of broccoli soup contain nutmeg. Why does this spice compliment such sauces so well?

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    Probably because the person who created/wrote the recipe thought it tasted good and for no other reason. I've cream sauce recipes I've developed and lots I've copied from the Web, none contain nutmeg. There are a ton of recipes of all sorts that contain ingredients I do not like - either omit that, substitute or don't make that recipe. We all have different tastes – Cynetta Sep 3 '18 at 9:11
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Nutmeg provides an exotic/interesting note to cream and milk based sauces. These sauces are often based on flour, butter and dairy, so besides the potential caramelization flavors from cooking the butter and flour (which can be delicious on their own) there are few other flavor components, say, as compared to a pan sauce. A grating of nutmeg can create interest. Not all dairy based sauces use nutmeg. It is traditional in some cuisines, and not in others. Why particular flavors compliment one another is an interesting and complex question. It might have to do with the molecular structure of ingredients.

  • Not so sure about this. It seems that nutmeg and dairy aren't an ideal combination (at least chemically, using foodpairing.com). – Andrea Shaitan Oct 18 '18 at 19:53

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