What a fascinating idea! An evolutionary mechanism/relationship between an ingredient’s position on the list and how commonly used it was. I would imagine there is a correlation between vitamin/mineral combinations, flavor, and maximum nutritional value which cause us to put items together.
COQ AU VIN and steak-and-kidney pudding may not bring to mind the principles of evolution. Yet evolutionary mechanisms may well be reflected in recipes for these tried-and-tested dishes.
Physicist Antonio Roque of the University of São Paulo in Brazil and colleagues analysed thousands of recipes (arxiv.org/abs/0802.4393v1) drawn from the French Larousse Gastronomique, the British New Penguin Cookery Book, three editions of the Brazilian Dona Benta spanning nearly 60 years, and a medieval cookbook. When they looked at how often ingredients appeared in recipes and ranked them accordingly, they saw a precise mathematical relationship across the board between an ingredient’s position on the list and how commonly it was used. “There’s a remarkable similarity,” says Roque, “independent of culture and author.”