The Frontal Cortex

Combining Foods

Apparently, Wilfrid Sellars came up with this “philosophical time-waster“:

Identify three foods A, B, and C such that any two of these are complementary (taste good in combination) but the trio does not. So A and B must be complementary, B and C must be complementary, and A and C must be complementary, but A, B, and C must be foul when combined together.

I’m stumped. Tyler Cohen proposes Merlot, Coke and Chicken, but the idea of mixing Merlot and Coke seems pretty foul to me. Other options include sharp cheddar cheese, quince jelly and peanut butter, but I’m not too excited about eating a cheddar cheese and peanut butter sandwich.

Any solutions for the Sellars cooking conundrum? After giving this problem way too much thought, the best trio I could come up with is dark chocolate, peanut butter and orange marmalade. The marmalade combines nicely with the chocolate, works suitably well with the peanut butter, but I can’t imagine all three ingredients tasting good when combined together. (That said, I’d still probably eat a grilled peanut-butter, marmalade and dark chocolate sandwich, if in the proper state of mind.)

What’s your best trio?


  1. #1 Christopher
    March 16, 2007

    Prosciutto, Melon & Red Wine.

    Prosciutto + Melon: typical appetizer
    Prosciutto + glass of red wine: mmmm…mmmm…good
    Melon + Wine: Sangria! (well, almost)

    Prosciutto + Melon + Wine: lousy excuse for a nouveau-trendy cocktail.

  2. #2 MattXIV
    March 16, 2007

    Vodka, pepper, cocconut milk

    Beef, cream, orange

  3. #3 MattXIV
    March 16, 2007

    Shrimp, BBQ sauce, beef

    Apples, curry, noodles

    The best strategy I think is to pick two base foods that can be combined in a dish then pick an ingredient that is used with both of them but for a different effects in other dishes.

  4. #4 MJ Memphis
    March 16, 2007

    Of course, no matter what combination you choose, chances are that it is a staple part of some regional Chinese or SE Asian cuisine. And they probably make it taste good, too.

  5. #5 Jonah
    March 16, 2007

    I think beef, cream and orange might win, especially if one has to use the whole orange, and not just the zest.

  6. #6 outlier
    March 16, 2007

    >the best trio I could come up with is dark chocolate, peanut butter and orange marmalade.

    Are you kidding? That sounds heavenly!


  7. #7 Brad S
    March 17, 2007

    Eggs, Potatoes and Jalapenos.

    Eggs and hash browns/home fries/breakfast burrito, yum.

    Eggs and jalapenos, tasty Tex-Mex breakfast.

    Potatoes (be they skins or mashed or in waffle fries) with jalapenos, delicious.

    All three?

    Come to think of it I think I’ve had all three and enjoyed it.

  8. #8 annie
    March 17, 2008

    can we combine japanese food wit malaysian food???

  9. #9 andrea
    May 11, 2010

    You’re right about the beef, cream and orange winning, I just had the exact dish in shanghai a week ago. (Although, it was technically the orange peel and not the entire orange itself)

  10. #10 Rafael Oconnel
    November 11, 2011

    “Wow, great blog article.Thanks Again. Keep writing.”

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