Fall season is maple syrup goodness season. All those smoky, caramelized, spicy tones are perfect for accompanying cravings for a cosy, festive atmosphere transitioning from autumnal cold to indoors warmth. But wait, before pouring your maple syrup grade A or B onto your fruits, into your tea or on your pancakes, just stop a bit to smell it. Did you know that a board from the Agriculture and Agri-Food of Canada developed a flavor wheel to try to describe all the scented nuances found in the golden, ambery sap-derived products? "Mapley" just won't do...
The Food Research and Development Centre of Saint-Hyacinth in Quebec came up with 13 main categories sudvised into many more numerous natural flavors, but also flavors by contamination. The 13 broad ones are: Vanilla, Milky, Empyreumatic, Floral, Fruity, Spicy, Foreign Deterioration, Foreign Environment, Plant Herbaceous, Plants-Humus-Forest-Cereals, Plants Ligneous, Maple, Confectionery. For instance, the pair Humus-Forest is further decoded into Mushroom, Mould and then Potato.
They also specify that they use an old French term "flaveur" to designate those scents that rise in the mouth and are not just about taste, those "aromatic notes perceived during tasting, whereas taste is limited to the basic taste sensations: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami." We, at The Scented Salamander, think that the latter taste classification is actually culturally conventional and leaves aside sensations like "juicy" or "slimy", or even simply "aquatic".
"The basic research work seeks to understand how maple syrup acquires its flavour. The first step was to develop the Maple Flavour Wheel, a precise vocabulary that describes and documents the flavours specific to maple products. The research will enable scientists to expand their knowledge of maple syrup's composition and identify the components behind its flavour and characteristic aromas."
What stems from this account is that the flavor of maple syrup has yet to be understood. Meanwhile, we can still enjoy it knowing that its palette of aromas is particularly complex and hard to encompass.