Work with me here: Until recently, I assumed “March Madness” was a reference to Alice in Wonderland a la “as mad as a March hare.” Turns out its about college basketball, which, this time of year, enjoys its own pseudoscience in the form of Bracketology. Apparently, Bracketologists predict the winner of the annual National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament using – I’m presuming – that cousin of the parenthesis, the square bracket. Like so: [bracket].
Inasmuch as brackets are used to frame prospective matches between teams, it seems to me they can be used to pair off more than competitors. They could “bracket” potential complements too. Consider the “stunt pairings” trend of last decade, when all manner of foodstuffs and wines were pushed into a dark closet together as if at a teenage house party. Wine and McDonald’s hamburgers were often thrown together, the thinking being that the combination of “high” and “low” culture could break the seventh seal and unleash the apocalypse. Exciting. Turns out it was just a waste of wine. And sometimes Big Macs.
Christopher “Sommelier to the Stars” Sawyer landed himself a profile in Esquire for successfully abstracting the concept by pairing wine with movies. Likewise, Sonoma music scribe J.M. Berry, a.k.a “Winotone,” briefly paired wine and classic rock. Though he didn’t rate an Esquire profile, I’m sure if he’d stuck it out, Guitar Player Magazine might eventually have become his A.A. sponsor or something.
When it comes to food pairings that A) aren’t merely conceptual art and B) are edible, the benchmark was set in 1928 by H.B Reese when he recognized that chocolate and peanut butter could become something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s in this vein that I’ve recently began bracketing my own pairings in search of two great tastes that taste great together.