Food-Bridging: A New Network Construction to Unveil the Principles of Cooking

In this manuscript, we propose, analyze, and discuss a possible new principle behind traditional cuisine: the Food-bridging hypothesis and its comparison with the food-pairing hypothesis using the same dataset and graphical models employed in the food-pairing study by Ahn et al. (2011). The Food-bridging hypothesis assumes that if two ingredients do not share a strong molecular or empirical affinity, they may become affine through a chain of pairwise affinities. That is, in a graphical model as employed by Ahn et al., a chain represents a path that joints the two ingredients, the shortest path represents the strongest pairwise chain of affinities between the two ingredients. Food-pairing and Food-bridging are different hypotheses that may describe possible mechanisms behind the recipes of traditional cuisines. Food-pairing intensifies flavor by mixing ingredients in a recipe with similar chemical compounds, and food-bridging smoothes contrast between ingredients. Both food-pairing and food-bridging are observed in traditional cuisines, as shown in this work. We observed four classes of cuisines according to food-pairing and food-bridging: (1) East Asian cuisines, at one extreme, tend to avoid food-pairing as well as food-bridging; and (4) Latin American cuisines, at the other extreme, follow both principles. For the two middle classes: (2) Southeastern Asian cuisines, avoid food-pairing and follow food-bridging; and (3) Western cuisines, follow food-pairing and avoid food-bridging.