Oxford food scientist Charles Michel, who previously has worked in Michelin starred restaurants, claims to have devised a formula for the perfect cheese and crackers.
The formula utilises a five layer process to create an ideal taste, sight, and sound profile.
Michel, currently chef-in-residence at the Department of Experimental Psychology’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory, used cheeses created by Blur bassist Alex Jones on his West Oxfordshire farm and Jacob’s cream crackers for his ultimate cracker.
The recipe employs unusual ingredients such as honey, prosciutto and Marmite to include all five tastes: salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami.
Apparently the layering and exact measurement of each ingredient is key to achieving a perfect balance of tastes.
The cheese ought to cover 72 per cent of the cracker’s surface and be served at no less than room temperature, however no mention of the ideal type of cheese is made.
Commenting on his research, Michel said: “Cheese and crackers are such a timeless combination, I jumped at the chance to work on coming up with a science-based formula for it.”
Michel’s exact formula begins with the ‘sonic layer’.
He commented, “Sound is the forgotten flavour sense; the sound made by a food really can make it taste better, so a cheese and cracker pairing must have both soft and crunchy components. Therefore, an additional layer of a contrasting texture on top of the cracker enhances our pleasure.”
“Adding Umami-rich elements to cheese will increase the deliciousness and mouthfulness. In small quantities, strong-flavoured, Umami packed foods like anchovies, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and Marmite, will perfectly complement your cheese and cracker pairing.”
After the Umami stage comes the ‘sweet layer’, which involves adding sweet elements like honey or dried fruit in order to “balance the taste equation to maximise flavour enjoyment”.
Next follows the ‘cheese layer’ which must “perfectly cover the cracker’s surface by 72%”.
Michel said, “When served on a Jacob’s Cream Cracker, the slice should measure 5.5cm, by 1cm thickness. Cheese should be served at no less than room temperature (16-20 degrees) so that the texture and flavour intensity is at its best.”
“Smell is probably the dominant component of flavour, and depends mostly on the quality and freshness of the ingredients. It is commonly known that “we eat with our eyes first”, so food must look good to be enticing, and is a determining aspect of the enjoyment of the overall experience—so make it colourful and artistic.”