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Duolingo is one of the world’s most popular apps, consistently ranking in the top two or three educational apps, and a hugely popular way to learn a language.

All of which had, until very recently, been completely irrelevant to me. I’m generally a fast learner, and have picked up a diverse range of skills over the years, but have always been completely hopeless when it comes to learning languages …

Understanding my level of linguistic incompetence

There was a time in my life when I was visiting Germany for a few days a month; I tried almost every language course under the sun; and I even had a German girlfriend for three years. Yet despite all this, my German vocabulary probably peaked at 900 words, and I’d be surprised if I could remember 10% of it today.

I’d reluctantly written off languages as not something for me. I stuck to a plan of learning 10 phrases for each country I visited*, and promptly forgetting them within minutes of leaving the country.

*Hello, Goodbye, Yes, No, Please, Thank you, one of those (as I could then order anything I could point to), bathroom, airport, and taxi.

Tango and COVID-19 conspired

I dance Argentine tango, fell head-over-heels in love with Buenos Aires, and plan to spend one month a year there (one week of holiday, three weeks working in the mornings and dancing in the afternoons and evenings). So being able to speak at least a little Spanish would be enormously helpful.

I caught COVID-19 just before Christmas. Although I only spent four days in bed, I felt mentally and physically exhausted for weeks afterwards. Indeed, my physical energy remains limited. However, my mental energy returned, and I decided if I was going to be mostly stuck at home, I needed something interesting to occupy my time.

Somehow the two factors conspired to have me try Duolingo Spanish.

The Duolingo controversy

Duolingo was started by a Carnegie Mellon University professor and one of his post-grad students, with the aim of bringing free language learning to the world. Today, most of the features remain free.

Founder Luis von Ahn said that Bill Gates using the app was one of his proudest moments:

“The moment I felt proudest was when I realized, Wow, the richest man in the world is using the same system as the lowest people on the economic scale,” says Von Ahn. “That is for me really special and pretty big.”

It has been criticized as limiting the learning process by making its tests unrealistically easy, and by its sometimes bizarre choice of vocabulary.

An apple. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times Duolingo had me talking about apples. And not in normal, plausible contexts — not “I’ll have an apple, please,” or “Do you want my apple?” The circumstances in which Duolingo envisioned my needing to speak about apples were either too fanciful (“The bird is eating an apple: L’oiseau mange la pomme”) or vaguely threatening (“My pocket contains an apple: Ma poche contient une pomme.” I translated apple from English to French and back again. I spoke it aloud. I typed it out when it was spoken to me. “I GET IT,” I screamed at Duolingo. “UNE POMME.”

I agree with both points, as you’ll see.

My impressions of the app

The criticism about the limits of the course didn’t concern me in the slightest. I was not under any impression that I was going to “learn Spanish” – my goal was the much more modest one of picking up a smattering of Spanish by March. This is how I got on after three weeks of using the app.

Look and feel

Duolingo is pretty much the ultimate example of the gamification of the learning process. It has animated characters that dance with joy when you get something right; fanfares of trumpets; points, gems, crowns; achievement levels; the ability to unlock content by succeeding at earlier levels; rankings against strangers and friends alike… you name it.


Duolingo is structured into tiny, bite-size lessons. Each one takes me two to three minutes, though I’d expect the time to increase as they get harder.

Lessons are grouped by topic. In Level 1, for example, the lesson topics are: Intro, Phrases, Travel, Restaurant, Family, Shopping, Present Tense, School, and People. In the free version, you have to complete the lessons in order; with the paid Plus subscription, you can jump a little way ahead, but not too far.

Alongside each lesson, there are associated Tips. These help with things like working out whether a word is masculine or feminine (which, in Spanish, is sometimes clear from the ending of a word, and sometimes random).

There’s a Practice Hub, where you can work on your lesson mistakes. In here, you can do Mistakes Review (where got the vocabulary or grammar wrong), Perfect Pronunciation (where your answers were correct but your pronunciation was not), and Listen Up (where your listening comprehension failed). This is a great way to ensure that mistakes don’t get ingrained.

There are Stories, which are short dialogues to help you recognize things in the context of conversations (you have to unlock each level of these by passing the relevant lessons first).

Audio Lessons are listening-only modules, where two actors play out various conversations using language you have learned – again, these have to be unlocked through the appropriate lessons. These are great when you can listen but not speak, like using public transit – though the content is a bit cringeworthy to British ears at least!

There’s a badge/shield icon that shows you where you are ranked against other people of the same level. Although I’m not really a competitive person – I’m motivated by my own goals, rather than comparing myself against anyone else – it still provides a meaningful measure of progress. When I can see from the “points” that just one more lesson will move me up the ranking, then I tend to do it.

There’s a shop where you can buy “gems” to get access to extra features, and annoyingly some things still have to be purchased even as a paid subscriber. However, there was nothing in there that appealed, so it wasn’t relevant in practice.

Finally, there’s a blog section (called News).

In use

I’m a Brit, and not generally a fan of over-enthusiastic gamification, but I do have to say that for something that definitely doesn’t come naturally to me – learning a language – all the little reward animations, sounds, and messages do feel nice. They’re a bit too frequent (every five questions during lessons), but it all helps to motivate, and you can switch them off.

The main weakness, for someone like me, who wants to pick up just a smattering of the language, is that you get no say over the vocabulary you learn. So I can do something useless, like say I have a brother and a sister (or order an apple sandwich…), but haven’t got as far as being able to direct a taxi driver to go left or right, or ask a kiosk to top up my metro card, or tell a clothes store my size. So now my mission is to identify the most useful vocab for me, and to learn that elsewhere, before resuming my Duolingo lessons.

Some of the questions require you to type or speak the translation – more on that in a moment – but many give you multi-choice options. Again, this is way too easy, especially as you can often identify the first word in the phrase as it’s the only one capitalized.

For these questions, I took to covering the lower half of the screen with my hand while I tried to work it out without prompts. I really wish this were a feature, so you start with the multi-choice options hidden and then tap to reveal them if required.

The tone of the Stories is a bit like a TV shopping channel, with terrible overacting, but it is definitely useful to hear both vocabulary and grammar used within the context of a conversation.

There’s also a web version of Duolingo, which pretty much mirrors – and syncs with – the app.

Speaking and writing

Duolingo aims to teach both written and spoken language. However, my personal view is that spoken is far more important and relevant to me. This is for two reasons.

First, most of my interactions in Buenos Aires will be in person. It’s far rarer that I’ll need to write to anyone in Spanish.

Second, there are good automated tools for dealing with written Spanish. If I need help translating a sign, menu, or similar, I can simply point my iPhone camera at it and select the Text then Translate features. If I need to write anything in Spanish, Google Translate will probably make a better job of it than me.

For that reason, the way I’m personally using the app is voice-only. When it wants me to type anything, I just use Siri to speak it instead. The app is intelligent enough to auto-select the English or Spanish keyboard as required, and Siri uses that to determine the language. Though despite coaching from my girlfriend, who is fluent in Spanish, Duolingo persists in insisting that I’m saying carro (car) when Steph confirms I’m very definitely saying caro (expensive).

I’m still taking note of the written language, of course, but focusing on the spoken word.

The all-important question: Does it work?

For those who have the ability to learn languages, absolutely. My girlfriend has used it for years, and is fluent in three languages and is currently learning two more. Friends have also reported great success with it.

For someone like me, who has a terrible track record at languages, it’s obviously hard to judge just three weeks in – but the very fact that I’m still using it on a daily basis is itself quite telling. I feel like I’m learning, I feel inspired to supplement the Duolingo work with other tools (much of our apartment is covered in Post-It Notes with the Spanish words for things), and I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I can already say. The app claims I’ve “mastered” 4% of the course at three weeks.

For me, the app is well thought-out in several key ways.

First, all of the flattery does make you feel like you’re making progress from the start, so encourages you to continue.

Second, because each individual lesson module is sooo short, taking just two to three minutes, there is zero barrier to opening the app. I found myself opening it intending to do just one module and then ending up doing a bunch of them.

Third, much as I would like to claim to be above such things, the gamification does work. All the silly animations and sounds and points and crowns and rankings… well, it very much turns out I’m not above all that.

I’m not normally a competitive person, but even the rankings against other learners worked. If I could see that just one more three-minute lesson would move me into the top 10 for my level, for example, I’d do it. If I got to the top spot and someone knocked me out of it by a few points, then I’d do one more lesson to regain my place. All meaningless, but all effective.

The fixed vocabulary is, as I say, the main weakness. But in just three weeks of what had felt like very painless work, I’m surprised just how much I have picked up. I can …

Greet people

Ask if they speak English, and explain that I speak very little Spanish

Book a table in a restaurant

Order some food and drinks

Ask where things are (like a bathroom, bank, or clothes shop)

Buy bus and train tickets

Buy some clothes

And other assorted things of variable usefulness (like admiring someone’s dog)

Oh, and say that my grandmother and my sister would like an apple sandwich …

I’m also told by a local that my accent is pretty good.

My comprehension skills are currently some way behind my own speaking, but I’m told that’s perfectly normal, too, and Duolingo gives you the ability to slow down the speech to make it easier to understand. Indeed, most sentences I don’t understand immediately, I do make sense of them when slowing them down – so asking someone to repeat very slowly is top of my target vocabulary!

The app is free to use. There is a subscription option, Duolingo Plus, which gives you access to some extra features. For me, the three most useful ones are:

But if you can’t afford the $7/month cost of Plus, it’s no big deal. For me, the app is true to its origins of helping people learn languages for free.

Most importantly, however, I have the answer to my original question: Can the Duolingo iPhone app help a language dunce learn some Spanish? The answer is “yes” – both by teaching me a surprising amount itself, and by giving me enough encouragement to seek other avenues too. If you too had given up on learning a language, I recommend giving it a go.

Photos: Rob Wilson/Unsplash and Preillumination SeTh/Unsplash

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Can Sleep Dentistry Help You Relax Before A Dental Operation?

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is the method of using medications to relax patients before dental procedures. It is beneficial for people who have a fear of dentists. Patients can have a fear of needles, drilling, or the fear of pain.

There are different levels of dental sedation administered depending on the patient’s level of anxiety, which includes.

Minimal Sedation – It aids in relaxing without dropping you unconscious.

Moderate Sedation – You are lightly conscious but without any memory of the procedure.

Deep Sedation – You are somewhat unconscious but still answer to oral instructions.

How does Sedation dentistry help you in relaxing?  There are four different types of dental sedation techniques.

Inhaled minimal sedation

Sedation dentistry using nitrous oxide helps you to remain conscious yet relaxed during the procedures. You breathe nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, along with oxygen through a nose apparatus.

It has minimal effects, and you will start sensing its results instantly in like 30 seconds of inhaling. The dentist has control over the measure of sedation you inhale.

The impact of the gas decreases rapidly as soon as you remove the mask, and you can drive home safely. Some patients require nitrous oxide on top of oral sedation, and for others, nitrous oxide is enough to relax.

Oral sedation

Oral sedation, also known as conscious sedation, is a minimal to moderate kind of dental sedation technique. Depending on the procedure, you need to take the prescribed dose a night before or an hour before the procedure.

Taking a pill like a Halcion or Valium an hour before the process is enough for minimal sedation. The tablet keeps you awake, drowsy, and relaxed.

For moderate sedation, you will get a significant dose. It can make you dizzy sometimes and get you to sleep through the procedure. Even if you are awake during the treatment, you won’t be able to recall much about the appointment after the surgery.

Depending on the severity of your case, your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure will be continuously monitored through the right types of equipment. A soft shake can awake you.

This dental sedation relaxes the patient significantly and is ideal for patients with severe anxiety. The effects of oral sedation will wear off by the next day. You’ll need a friend or a family member to ride you back home after the dental appointment.

IV Moderate sedation

IV sedation needs administering the sedative through a vein of the patient’s hand or arm, which makes it effective more quickly. This sedation technique is apt in a situation where the patient is extremely anxious or is undergoing extensive dental treatment.

During the procedure, the oxygen level of the patient is continuously monitored and might also need extra oxygen throughout the treatment.

IV sedation helps the patient to relax while being awake. You will feel sleepy, and once the procedure is over, you won’t remember anything. Ask your dentist more about IV sedation and get to know if they can administer you IV sedation.

Also be sure to find good and reliable dentists for this. You can consider visiting the oral surgeon in Chattanooga if you’re unsure of who to look for.

Deep sedation and general anesthesia

The last option is general anesthesia, which is comparatively rare for sleep dentistry. Taking general anesthesia will make you completely unconscious, put you into a deep sleep during the dental treatment.

You cannot wake up quickly until the effects of general anesthesia start to wear off with medication. Dentists administer it in cases of significant oral surgery or when the patient is immune to other sedation techniques.

Also read: 2023’s Top 10 Business Process Management Software


The above are the techniques through which sleep dentistry helps you in relaxing before and during dental treatment. After the procedure, you go through a recovery period.

During the recovery time, you will be alert and will be able to walk and stretch. The dentist recommends the patient to move around because sitting for too long can again put you to sleep quickly.

It would be best if you did not use any heavy equipment or drive after IV sedation. It is essential to discuss your fear and anxiety with your dentist.

You must also tell the dentist about any illness, allergies, or medications you are having. Based on the information, your dentist will decide the right sleep dentistry technique for you. Finally, it is essential to follow a good oral care routine to avoid any dental issues.

Developing A Motorcycle Taxi App: Learn How Gakoda Became A Successful Bike Taxi Startup

multiple jobs, and since this often involves travelling from one location to another, multiple times a day, functional transport systems are the need of the hour. This includes buses, trains, taxis, motorcycles, and e-scooters. Last-minute commuting facilities are making their way through transport application development like Lyft, Uber, and Taxify.

Also read: 10 Types of Developer Jobs: IT Jobs Insight on the Gokada motorcycle taxi application

Gokada was co-created in the year 2023 by Fahim Saleh and has provided approximately 1 million rides since that time

Its primary objective in fundraising is to increase fleets and provide riders with a Gokada shop that contains everyday necessities like rice, yams, and plantain

The motorbike taxi business intends to develop an Amazon Prime-like membership. It aims for an ecosystem-based around the driver which offers other services like motorbike insurance, maintenance, personal life insurance, and micro-finance loans.

With the aforementioned knowledge about the Gokada app, let’s understand the scope for your motorbike taxi startup. The statistics will provide you with clarity on success or failure, in addition, it will also provide a motorbike taxi business plan.

Scope for Motorbike Taxi Application Development

Waiting in the queue to catch a vehicle is always a hassle, and it is particularly stress-inducing taking into account current traffic levels. Motorbike taxi applications are ahead of other on-demand transport app development projects. The commuting times attached to using a cab or a bus are much longer in comparison to motorcycles. Motorbikes are a faster and more cost-effective option for everyday travel.

Interesting statistics in relation to bike taxi services demonstrate the overall increase in search prevalence of motorbike taxi application development. A motorcycle taxi is a frequently looked up a keyword. The statistics are based on the previous twelve months, from June 2023 to May 2023. It demonstrates considerable growth during these months, which can be stated to be a wider scope of applications like Uber clone app.

An increase in gasoline prices is a major problem in the global market today. Demand for two-wheelers is increasing due to fuel efficiency and has amplified the necessity of motorbike taxi app businesses. On account of swift urbanization, the segmented is expected to remain dominant over the course of the upcoming half-a-decade.

In an interesting twist, even regions in the USA are starting to search for bike taxi apps for their travel needs. This is representative of revenue and profit for the motorbike taxi application service. The demand for motorbike taxi apps is obvious, but supply is not up to the mark; supply is representative of a good motorcycle business startup.

Also read: Top 3 Lessons I Learned from Growing a $100K+ Business Four important aspects of a functional motorcycle taxi app project like Gokada

Request rides and view fare estimates

The ride request feature, is obviously a critical aspect of a transportation application. Ride requests have two functions: i) it alerts the user with regards to the booking of a motorcycle. ii) Secondly, it enables a user to book rides for somebody else.

Gokada ensures to display fare estimates. These obviously specify pricing according to the fuel prices and also specify any relevant discounts.

Rider safety

The Gokada app emphasizes the safety of riders. Increased safety protocol has drastically increased user retention rates. The application is authorized by the Department of Transportation.

Rider training and selection

As a transport startup, this solution empowers, just as good quality petrol fetches good mileage and reduced engine damage. Drivers are the pulse of any transportation business, and goodwill is produced according to the driver’s service.

Incentives for riders

Also read: Top 10 Best Software Companies in India


Uber clone script is a perfect option for motorcycle taxi app development. With regard to transportation apps, entrepreneurs need to realize those good ideas stick. Believe your instincts when you think that your idea for an app might be a big hit. Emulating Gokada’s strategies is a surefire way of gaining visibility for your app.

Jennifer Atkinson

Jennifer Atkinson is a Growth Hacker at AppDupe, a pioneer in app development is a one-stop solution for all your ride-hailing business needs. Also a blogger and a growth hacker who loves to find new business ideas and help startup entrepreneurs with business consultation.

How To Use The Health App On Iphone

Health app is inbuilt on all iPhones since iOS 8. For the most part, it does not perform any function except collecting and combing all health data like steps, sleep, flights climbed, heart rate, etc. in a single handy place.

To gather this information, it uses the iPhone, Apple Watch, third-party fitness trackers, inbuilt Clock app, third-party apps, and other Apple’s HealthKit supported devices. There is much more to this! So, if you have just got an iPhone or have never used the Health app, here is how to start!

How to Set up Your Health Profile

Open the Health app. Tap on Summary and then your picture from the top-right.

Tap on Health Profile.

Tap on Edit.

Fill the correct details like age, blood type, Wheelchair, etc.

Finally, tap on Done to save the details.

How to View Health Data in Health App

You can effortlessly see your health data by launching the app and tapping Summary. Here you have Favorites, Highlights, and some more options. Under Favorites, you can see the data that matters most to you. Tap on Show All Health Data for more.

View Health Data of a Particular Category

Inside the Health app, tap on Browse.

Under Health Categories, tap on one.

For example, if you tap on Activity, you can see recent as well as old data.

How to Edit Favorites in Health App to View Relevant Data

Tap on Summary in the Health app.

Tap on Edit next to Favorites.

Tap on the star icon for the desired options.

Finally, tap Done from the upper-right.

Now, all the selected data are shown under Favorites in the Summary tab. From here, it is convenient to look at them quickly.

Tip: Long-press on the Health app icon from the Home Screen and choose Summary.

How to Enter Information About Your Health

In the Health app, tap on Browse.

Tap on a category. For example, Heart.

Tap on a subcategory—for example, Heart Rate.

From the top-right, tap on Add Data.

Fill in the details. Finally, tap Add.

How to Track Symptoms in Health App

The new iOS 13.6 update brings some pretty cool features, including a groundbreaking update in the Health app. Symptoms tracker is practical in the current era of the global pandemic. During the ongoing worldwide health crisis, if you’re looking forward to staying robust, let me show you how to add Symptoms in Health App.

Open Health app on your iPhone.

Select Browse from the bottom of the screen.

Scroll down and go into the Symptoms section.

Select the symptom you’re hit with.

Tap Add Data and select the degree of symptoms from the available options.

You can track thirty-nine types of different symptoms including the most common like Fever, Chills, Sore Throat, Coughing, Runny Nose, and Nausea. Each symptom is supported by information regarding the disease so that you can confirm the symptoms before adding the data.

The best thing about this feature is that you can track the level of symptoms based on five standards.

Not Present





Not least, the new update has also enabled the option of sharing and exporting your health data to third-party apps.

How to Set up your Medical ID on iPhone

Medical ID is a valuable option that I recommend you to have on your iPhone. We have a step by step post that shows you how to set up emergency Medical ID.

This information can even be accessed from the lock screen. It requires no passcode authentication. In case you are in a problem (say accident), people nearby can see this information and reach your emergency contacts, see about your existing medical conditions, allergies, know about your blood group, etc.

How to View Sleep Data in Health App

Bedtime is an inbuilt feature in the Clock app. Once you set up Bedtime alarm on your iPhone, you can see your sleep details inside the Health app under Browse → Sleep.

Further, with watchOS 7, Apple Watch also gets sleep tracking. This would make things even easier to record.

How to Select Apps That Share Information with Health App

Open the Health app and tap on Summary.

Tap on your profile picture from the top-right.

Under the Privacy heading, tap on Apps. Here you will see your installed apps that are compatible with the Health app. In case a particular app is not listed here, that means it is incompatible.

Tap on an app. Here you can enable or disable the desired categories.

How to Connect and View Health Records from Supported Institutions

The Health app also has the feature to connect with supported institutions and display your health records such as lab results, medications, immunizations, etc. in one place. To do this:

Launch the Health app and tap on the Summary tab. Next, tap on your profile picture from the top-right.

Under Accounts, tap on Health Records.

Tap on Get Started. Here you can search for your hospital, networks, or locations. You may also choose one from SUGGESTIONS.

Under AVAILABLE TO CONNECT, choose an option like Connect to Account.

Next, sign in using the login details of the choose healthcare provider. After this, you might have to wait for a minute or two for the information to be visible.

Once you have successfully added an institution, the iOS Health app will periodically update your health records automatically.

To view your health records, tap on Browse → tap on a category under Health Records.

How to Backup Health App Data

The health app has a significant amount of valuable information. It is recommended that you have it automatically backed up to iCloud. This will ensure that all your data is safe in switching to a new iPhone or resetting and restoring it. We have a quick post that shows you how to back up health data to iCloud.

How to Export Health Data From iPhone

Backup and export are different things. Backup is for your own safekeeping. Export is for situations you want to send this data to a doctor or take an in-depth look at yourself. You can even run your own calculations and see everything from a perspective that is different from the Health app. We have listed a couple of ways to export and import health data. Make sure you check it out.

The iOS App Store is filled with several incredible health apps. You can manually search for them, tap on the Apps tab, tap on See All next to Top Categories, and then choose Health & Fitness.

Additionally, the Health app also recommends and shows you helpful apps for some selected categories.

For this, tap on Browse and tap on a health category. For example, Sleep. Or, search for a category, like Water. Next, tap on the subcategory.

Finally, scroll down to see some compatible health apps for that category. Tap on the name if you want to learn more and download it.

Signing off…

This is how you can start using the iPhone Health app. Overall it is a well-built place to see all data in one place. The app also integrates well with the Apple Watch and lets you view your goals, exercise, stand data, heart rate data, Breathe app data, and much more from the Browse tab.


Author Profile


Jignesh Padhiyar is the co-founder of chúng tôi who has a keen eye for news, rumors, and all the unusual stuff around Apple products. During his tight schedule, Jignesh finds some moments of respite to share side-splitting content on social media.

There’s A Science To Food Pairing, And You Can Learn It Here

This adapted excerpt is taken from The Art & Science of Foodpairing by Peter Coucquyt, Bernard Lahousse, and Johan Langenbick. Published by Firefly Books Ltd.

Food pairing makes it easy to discover new ingredient combinations based on their aromatic matches, but that is not all there is to creating tantalizing dishes that will pique your palate. What can you do to take your recipes to the next level? As you make your selections, don’t forget to factor in taste and texture. Balancing the elements of flavor (aroma), taste and texture will add interesting depth and dimension to your dishes. Striking the right balance may sound simple in theory, but it is often the most difficult part of the job when you are in the kitchen.

The basics in brief

• The wheel consists of two separate rings: the inner ring displays the fourteen different aroma types, and the broken outer ring indicates the concentrations of available aroma descriptors.

• The length and/or height of each wavy band of color indicates the concentration of an aroma type present.

• Aroma types that are not present are greyed out.

• Some ingredients are represented by small aroma wheels, which convey the key aroma descriptors in a simplified form.

How to read a pairing grid

The primary ingredient is in bold, with ten potential pairings listed below.

• The columns of colored dots correspond to the 14 different aroma types, so the horizontal rows of dots represent the aroma profiles for the main ingredient and the pairings.

• A colored dot indicates the presence of an aroma type within an ingredient, while no colored dot means the aroma type is not present.

• A large dot means that the main ingredient and the complementary pairing share a specific aroma molecule for that particular type.

How to begin pairing

• Select one or more of the items you see listed beneath the main ingredient in a pairing grid.

• Expand your search by looking up the grid for one of the suggested pairings, and start building aromatic bridges between different ingredients.

The Art & Science of Foodpairing. Firefly Books

Contrasting textures

We are sensitive to the textures of everything we eat or drink. Think about it: the dishes we find appealing often include a variety of textures, whereas dishes that lack texture can become boring after just a few bites. Our team has identified sixty different types of textures that we have categorized into two main groups: soft and crunchy/crispy. The trick is to include at least one contrasting texture from each of these categories to give your dish dimension. Combinations like chips and guacamole, French fries with ketchup or a silky chocolate mousse served with a cookie or crumble are classic examples of our natural affinity for contrasting pairings of soft foods and foods with crispy or crunchy textures.

Balancing contrasting tastes. Firefly Books

Contrasting tastes

Without getting too carried away, try to incorporate at least two of the five contrasting tastes—sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami—to balance your dishes and drinks. In the diagram to the right, the arrows indicate which tastes work to counterbalance one another. Salt, for example, can be used to reduce bitter tastes. That is why some chocolate chip cookie recipes call for a pinch of salt to balance the bitterness of the dark chocolate. Salt also works to balance sweetness, as in sea salt caramel. Following the same principle, you can reduce the intensity of a sweet dessert by adding a sour contrasting element.

Remember that every ingredient you use will register some sort of effect on the trigeminal nerve, whether it is a tactile sensation, temperature-related, astringency, fattiness, pungency, numbness, a cooling sensation or the mild burn of alcohol. As you create your dish, be sure to take into account these sensations as they will all have some bearing on the gastrophysical experience.

Aroma types and descriptions. Firefly Books

Aromatic complexity

It is not just about the number of different ingredients you use—aromatic complexity comes together in various forms on the plate (see chart below). Your ingredients can have many aroma molecules in common like those in Group C, or be very different from each other, like those in Group D. But as Group E shows, seemingly unrelated elements can form a coherent whole.

Perceiving complexity

The diagram on the left charts the correlation between the perceived complexity of a dish and a person’s affinity for that dish based on hedonic variables like aroma, flavor, taste, texture, and appearance. We can see that most people respond positively to added complexity, but only up to a certain point. Their interest tends to wane once too many elements begin to overcomplicate a dish.

Optimizing complexity

When you are learning to work with aromas, start with no more than five ingredients—this makes it easier to maintain balance as you refine your pairings. In addition to your choice of ingredients and the personal or cultural preferences of your diners, optimizing complexity is determined by the following elements: the total number of different aroma molecules present in a recipe; the type of aroma types and descriptors each ingredient contributes to a dish, and whether they share any similarities; in addition to which taste molecules are also present. The more distinguishable elements stand out in your dish, the more complex it becomes.

To illustrate what we mean by complexity, let’s refer to the chart at right:

Types of aromatic complexity. Firefly Books

Group A shows three ingredients that share strong aromatic links. Chocolate, caramel and coffee all contain roasted, caramellic and nutty notes. A dessert made using these ingredients would be an example of what we call ‘overtoning’, in which variations of similar-smelling ingredients result in a more subtle complexity than combining chocolate with the fruity, citrus and floral notes of raspberries would. Overtoning allows us to incorporate plenty of herbs, spices or other closely related ingredients in a dish without it turning into a cacophony of contrasting elements.

But say we add almonds and basil to our chocolate dessert: suddenly, Group B becomes more complex, as we now have five contrasting ingredients to balance in terms of taste and texture. One way to get around the issue of too many items overcrowding the plate is to limit yourself to just a few ingredients that offer a diverse range of contrasting profiles.

Group C shows a set of very similar ingredients, such as different varieties of dark chocolate that are defined by the same roasted, caramellic and nutty aroma molecules. In contrast, Group D shows a set of ingredients such as chicken, chilli, chocolate, anise, and peanuts, each of which has a markedly different aroma profile from the rest.

Finally, Group E represents the traditional Mexican dish, mole de pollo. Note that Groups D and E share the same components but in different configurations, which goes to show that personal preferences and cultural backgrounds may cause one person to perceive the complexity of a dish very differently from another.

The most successful food pairings strike a carefully measured balance between complexity and coherence. As humans, we crave variety, yet we also seek out familiar elements or structures that help us make sense of novel experiences. This aesthetic principle of “unity-in-variety,” as coined by the psychologist Daniel Berlyne, satisfies our curiosity and desire for learning while also allowing the disparate elements to be efficiently processed in ways we deem pleasurable.

Now, let’s test this on a model ingredient: chopped garlic.

An aroma wheel for chopped garlic. Firefly Books

Applying the science

Over three-quarters of the aroma molecules in garlic are sulphurous vegetal notes that smell like garlic and onions; some of these compounds are unique to garlic and are not found in other vegetables. Slicing or crushing a clove of garlic triggers chemical reactions that cause new sulphurous aroma molecules to form.

Garlic has been valued for culinary and medicinal purposes since ancient times. The pungent cloves are listed among the ingredients for Babylonian recipes such as wild fowl pie that were etched onto clay tablets in Akkadian cuneiform script around 1750 BC, forming part of what is believed to be the world’s oldest cookbook, while the ancient Egyptians fed their slaves porridge with garlic to increase their stamina and productivity. Evidence of the importance of the ‘stinking rose’ in ancient Egyptian culture can be found in the form of hieroglyphic inscriptions, illustrations and sculptures discovered in the tombs of pharaohs—along with traces of actual garlic.

Garlic was also important in ancient Greece, Rome and China; the Roman poet Horace described it as being so potent that it could send your lover to the other side of the bed, and the Greek philosopher Theophrastus noted that several types were grown in Greece.

Why chopping garlic changes its aroma

Freshly peeled garlic gives off only a faint smell, but as soon as you slice, smash or chop the cloves the odor becomes pungent and so strong that it can be hard to wash off your fingers. Damaging the cell walls of a garlic clove triggers the release of an odurless sulphur compound called alliin. Enzymes known as alliinase break down the alliin, forming new volatiles called allicin—the major aroma compound in chopped garlic.

The compound allicin is unstable and quickly turns into other sulphurous compounds such as diallyl disulphide (which is responsible for allergic reactions to garlic), allyl mercapatan, allyl methyl sulphide and allyl methyl disulphide. The compound allyl methyl sulphide takes longer for the body to metabolize and excrete than the others, so the next time you have garlic breath, you will know why.

Classic pairing: roasted garlic and bread

The nutty, tonka-bean-like notes found in roasted garlic explain why it tastes so good spread on slices of crusty baguette. But these notes also mean you could try pairing roast garlic with ají panca (a type of Peruvian chilli), quinoa, or cooked freekeh.

Aroma profile for black garlic puree. Firefly Books

Black garlic and the Maillard reaction

Contrary to what some may think, black garlic is not fermented. The bulbs are aged for four to six weeks in hot, humid conditions, at temperatures of around 60°C (140°F), thus prompting the Maillard reaction. As enzymes in the garlic break down the sugars and amino acids, they produce melanoidin, a dark brown substance that forms as a result of the Maillard reaction. The melanoidin is what turns the garlic black. The low-and-slow roasting method captures the essence of the allium without the pungent odor and sharp bite. Instead, the dark, sticky cloves taste sweet, tangy and full of fruity flavor. They also contain almost twice as many antioxidants as raw garlic.

Black garlic still contains the same sulphurous compounds as raw garlic, but in much lower concentrations. The roasting process accentuates its tangy, fruity fragrance, which explains why some people are reminded of tamarind when they taste black garlic. Try using black garlic to add intrigue to dishes featuring beef, chicken, duck or Dover sole.

While black garlic is usually used in savory applications due to its umami appeal, the punchy-flavored allium also contains 3-methylbutanal, which adds a chocolate complexity to the fruity tang that really comes through in desserts, such as the black garlic gelato we developed.

Chef’s pairing: black garlic and strawberry

Garlic and strawberries are often planted together as garden companions (the pungent smell of alliums keeps away insects), but this combination works in the kitchen, too. Both black garlic and fresh chopped garlic contain fruity notes that pair well with strawberries.

Potential pairing: black garlic and chocolate

The chocolate-like, sweet but tangy flavor of black garlic can make it an unusual, surprisingly delicate addition to a chocolate brownie. Its fruity, floral notes also open up possibilities for other dessert pairings, such as with orange, melon or dark berries.

Potential pairing: black garlic and Dushi Button flower Ingredient pairings with garlic

Best ingredients to pair with garlic. Firefly Books

Classic dish: chicken with 40 cloves of garlic Classic pairing: garlic and tamarind

Rasam is a traditional soup from south India, made with garlic and tamarind water (a chunk of dried tamarind pulp soaked in hot water). The soup is flavored with spices including black peppercorns, cumin, chilli and turmeric, garnished with coriander leaves and served with rice.

Best ingredients to pair with garlic (continued). Firefly Books

Potential pairing: garlic and pan-fried cactus leaves

Nopales, or cactus leaves, are a common ingredient in Mexican cooking and can be eaten raw or cooked. Often prepared in a similar way to steak, cactus leaves have a mild, grassy flavor that is sometimes compared to asparagus, and their green and vegetable notes work well with those of roasted garlic puree.

Potential pairing: garlic and sweet potato

The rich and complex flavor notes of both roasted garlic puree and black garlic find a good match in the floral aroma and savory, roasted notes of sweet potato (see overleaf). Both ingredients also pair well with usukuchi, a light, salty Japanese soy sauce, and passion fruit juice.

Best ingredients to pair with garlic (still continued). Firefly Books

Ios 17 Might Bring A New Journaling App For Iphone

Developers of journaling apps like Day One should be worried that Apple with iOS 17 will be entering the market for digital diaries.

Apple’s iOS 17 update could add a new app for journaling to your Home Screen.

Keeping a digital diary could reduce anxiety and boost self-awareness.

The founder of Day One says this will “sherlock” his journaling app!

An Apple diary and journaling app coming with iOS 17

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Apple is working on a new stock app for journaling. Code-named internally Jurassic, the app is reportedly coming with iOS 17. The report doesn’t mention it, but we’re betting Apple will also offer Jurassic on iPadOS 17 and macOS 14 to complete the experience.

The Apple journaling app is designed to help users keep track of their daily lives. The software is said to analyze the users’ behavior to determine what a typical day is like, including how much time is spent at home compared with elsewhere, and whether a certain day included something outside the norm.

The Cupertino technology giant allegedly decided to enter the digital diary market as part of its broader mental and physical health efforts. According to the medical site WebMD, studies have shown that journaling can improve one’s psychological and physical well-being by reducing anxiety and boosting self-awareness.

It’s unclear whether Apple plans to charge for the app.

The All Day People Discovery feature

One of the features in Jurassic is reportedly called All Day People Discovery. It will detect when you’re physically close to other people, allowing Apple’s algorithm to automatically distinguish between friends outside work and colleagues.

Another feature that sounds like being powered by machine learning will recommend potential topics for you to write about, such as a workout.

Apple’s app will perform all analysis on-device to protect people’s privacy, ensuring that no data is shared or uploaded to Apple’s servers.

Day One’s death knell

Unfortunately, this development could easily mark the end of the road for makers of journaling software. Day One by Bloom Built is arguably the best journaling app on Apple’s platforms, but it could get “sherlocked” if this news proves true.

Day One was recently featured by The Verge.

What does it mean to get “sherlocked”?

The verb “sherlocking” denotes Apple’s practice of building features into its operating systems that render third-party apps with the same functionality useless.

“When Apple takes an interest in a company, it’s the kiss of death,” Massimo Corp. founder Joe Kiani was quoted as saying in a separate Wall Street Journal article about sherlocking. “First, you get all excited,” he continued. “Then you realize that the long-term plan is to do it themselves and take it all.”

The term was coined in the 2000s when Apple introduced a new Mac search tool, dubbed Sherlock, that let users search files on their computers and the internet. As a result, Karelia Software’s Watson app—which provided much of the same features to Mac users—slowly but surely started waning in popularity.

Will this news make you stop using Day One?

Besides, why would anyone pay for a journaling app like Day One if Apple offered the same functionality for free? If you’re a Day One user and Apple offered a migration tool, would you stop using the app and switch to Jurassic?

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