Taste balancing is a major key in preparing delicious food. It supports holistic food preparation that celebrates the balance of flavors and the balance of feeding each body, from the emotional body to the spiritual body, with intention. When we feed people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies with comforting food, it creates balance in a variety of ways.
In each of our foods we like to have a taste base. That based, a balance in each dish of a sweet, salt, acid, and fat taste, give us a foundation for making almost any ethnic dish. Again, the base components all have the four elements: sweet, acid, salt and fat.
For the fat taste, we can use all sorts of oils: cold-pressed oils, olive oil, flax, hemp, sunflower, sesame, soaked nuts and seeds, unsoaked nuts and seeds, nut butters, avocado, coconut, or lives. For acid taste, we use citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange), apple cider vinegar, and sauerkraut. For salt, we Celtic salt, which contains 82 minerals. It is an uncooked, live salt. Miso creates a very nice salt taste and barley miso can be used as a bouillon substitute. Olives are good for a fat and salt taste. For sweets, we do not use a lot of dried fruits, because they are too myogenic. Instead, use the sweeter veggies and the lower glycemic fruits. Coconut water and cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and carrots would be examples of sweeter veggies.
Each culture has characteristic flavors that are achieved through the usage of specific herbs and spices. For example, in Italian cuisine, the key flavors are garlic, basil, oregano and olive oil. For Thai, the more fundamental flavors are basil, lemongrass, tamarind, galangal root, curry and cumin. For Mexican, use cilantro, cumin, garlic, olive oil, jalapeno and other chilies. Moroccan and African cuisines emphasize cilantro, cinnamon and ginger. Traditional American cuisine would favor garlic, oregano, dill and chilies.
When looking at which foods, spices and herbs work well together, notice the regional influence. Synergistically, plants that grow amongst one another work well together in the kitchen.
It is important to understand how the amounts of salt, acid, fat and sweet complement each other and the ethnic herbs to make a complete taste. For example, there are certain components that emphasize certain herbs. So, if you have cilantro in a dish, then you want to add less lemon. This is because the acid in the lemon emphasizes the cilantro and brings its flavor out more. If you were going to use basil instead of cilantro, you would add more lemon. Also, think about oil as a vehicle for flavor. If you just have lemon and salt and herbs, those flavors will go right to the taste buds, that acid taste or the taste of salt. But the oil smooths the flavors over the palate and brings them into balance. That is why the fat component is important.
The art of this approach is balance. We achieve this by using fresh, seasonal ingredients that satisfy all 4 taste components. Create a base recipe, add the four tastes, and then play with the herbs and spices for the particular cultural cuisine that you choose!