The Flavour Thesaurus, by Niki Segnit

This was a birthday present to me and I have treasured it.

FlavourThesaurusThis was a birthday present to me and I have treasured it. If you know anyone who’s a foodie - and Brighton is full of them - I heartily recommend this book.

Witty, wise, and useful it’s not so much a cookbook, more a compendium of flavours.

Of course, there are the obvious ones, like apple and blackberry (described here as the Simon and Garfunkel of flavour marriages) and strawberries and cream, or the ubiquitous pork and apple. We all know these.

But there are some crackers in this book that make peering in the depths of the fridge an adventure.

The book is arranged alphabetically with wonderful anecdotes and recipes interspersed with some pretty amazing food combinations.

I loved the story of lunch in Venice, where onions and anchovies are the star turn - or raw cauliflower and dates, discovered in a cafe in Jerusalem. I glossed over the chapter devoted to cinnamon (shudder), but was totally entranced by the chapter on watermelons (nothing nicer in the heat) and can vouch for the watermelon salad with feta cheese. But I also want to try the sweet pink melon with rosemary, or oysters, or crisply-fried pork belly. It all sounds scrumptious and certainly not something I would have put together.

Then you have the unusual combination of asparagus and orange. Unlikely? It seems not. Apparently sauce maltaise (a hollandaise flavoured with blood oranges was invented specifically for it). Who knew? We do now.