My Favourite Flavour. By Santiago Lastra Rodriguez

Taco de lengua/Tongue taco - nixtamalized øland wheat tortilla with koji chovi cream and wild herbs and flowers from Polenzo
Taco de lengua/Tongue taco – nixtamalized øland wheat tortilla with koji chovi cream and wild herbs and flowers from Polenzo

My favourite flavour? That’s really hard to say … I love almost anything that is related to the moment/place in which I am cooking.

It took me a long time to realize what is really tasty and what is not and I am still studying and discovering. Food is a big science, and the reason why is traditional food so tasty, lays in the fact that it took us centuries to achieve that perfection.

For me flavour is more a sensation than a classification captured in 4 flavour groups: there is a lot going on when you take a bite  – umami, aroma, texture, spiciness, temperature, pepper, alcohol, smoke and alkaline flavours. Let’s have a look at tortilla: something special happens when you cook corn or any other grain in calcium and the result is a powerful and beautifully balanced nutty flavour that brings me back to my country where in the morning the streets are getting ready to sell atole (typical Mexican hot beverage that is thicken by tortilla dough), tamales (steam masa cake) and of course the magical taco which is normally filled with a round flavour – let’s say meat with fat, pickles or lemon, herbs and a spicy sauce, sometimes in addition of other ingredients depending on the region. You can find similar combinations in other parts of the world, but what really makes taco special and Mexican food so incredibly tasty is the alkaline tortilla flavour which balances everything and gives you a sensation which is unique and impossible to find anywhere else.

People talk a lot about sour flavours which are amazing and strongly influence a dish making it “fresher”, helping to preserve and transforming for example a powerful onion into something soft and sweet.

But there’s another exciting world on the other side of the ph scale that is even more fascinating for me. Maybe I can say that the flavour which I love most is the alkaline flavor of a nixtamalized grain.

Santiago Lastra Rodriguez

Dish pictured above was created last summer in collaboration between Santiago Lastra Rodriguez, Roberto Flore and the Nordic Food Lab at the University of the Gastronomic Sciences in Polenzo, Italy 

Santiago Lastra Rodriguez. Photo: courtesy of Santiago Lastra Rodriguez
Santiago Lastra Rodriguez. Photo: courtesy of Santiago Lastra Rodriguez

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