Culinary Trinities

Whenever you indulge in your favorite foods, you might wonder what gives the food its unique flavors. As you begin to learn how to make certain foods, you will begin to notice that a lot of the recipes begin by having you saute a trio of foods together to create a base. This is what is known as a trinity for the type of food you are making.

For French food, the trinity is onions, celery, and carrots. Its the same for northern Italy however, for southern Italian food, its basil, garlic, and tomatoes.

Below are some other common trinities:

  • Brazil: dende oil, coconut milk and malagueta pepper.
  • Cajun/Creole: Also called the “holy trinity” — chopped onion, bell pepper, and celery.
  • Chinese: scallions, ginger and garlic, however other regions use a trinity of garlic, ginger and chili peppers, and in spicy Sichuan cuisine, the trio is known as the “three peppers” — chili, Sichuan, and white pepper.
  • Cuba: sofrito of garlic, bell pepper and Spanish onion.
  • French: Mirepoix — chopped onions, carrots and celery.
  • Greece: lemon juice, olive oil and oregano.
  • Hungary: paprika, lard and onion.
  • India: garlic, ginger and onion.
  • Italian: Soffritto — northern Italian cuisine: carrots, onions and celery or fennel. Southern Italian cuisine: garlic, tomato and basil.
  • Jamaica: garlic, scallion and thyme.
  • Japan: dashi, mirin and soy sauce, often in precise ratios.
  • Korea: garlic, ginseng and kimchi, although not necessarily in combination.
  • Lebanon: garlic, lemon juice and olive oil
  • Mexico: ancho, pasilla and guajillo.
  • Portuguese: Refogado — a quad of onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes.
  • Spanish: Sofrito — garlic, onion and tomato.
  • Thailand: galangal (a kind of ginger), kaffir lime and lemon grass.
  • West Africa: chili peppers, onions and tomatoes.

So the next time you are dining out, try to see if you can taste the trinities of the cuisine.