A colleague of mine has introduced me to this problem which combines mathematics and food. The challenge, as stated by George Hart, is to find three foods that do not go together well but every pair of them does.

In his statement of the problem, George Hart sais that they should not go well together “by any reasonable definition of foods going together”. But I think that this is so subjective that it would be almost impossible to agree on a reasonable definition for this. For instance, I have a bet with another friend in which I claim that if I like a given food alone then there is a way in which I can combine it with chocolate and still like it. However I realize that this wouldn’t mean that other people who are not chocoholics, would like the mix…

In fact, it is quite difficult for me to think of 3 foods that wouldn’t go together under any circumstance. So far, for every combination suggested in George Hart’s website,  I can find a way of cooking them or picking the right proportions such that the combination would taste good to me. But I guess some would say that I would just eat anything…

In that sense, it is even more difficult for me to think about the complementary problem: find 3 foods that go great together but such that every pair of them does not.

Even though I believe it is probably impossible to solve this because of difficulty in agreeing on what goes together well and what doesn’t, it is still a good conversation starter for a lazy afternoon and if you do come up with some ideas please post them in the comments of this post. I’d be happy to accept the challenge of finding a recipe that combines all 3 ingredients and eating it :).

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