Friday, April 26, 2013

Culinary Physics: Molecular Gastronomy Chefs, Molecular Gastronomy Restaurants and How Molecular Gastronomy Works

 


But what exactly is culinary physics or molecular gastronomy gastrophysics ? Is it science? If so, how can science revolutionize what is generally considered an artistic endeavor? This article will answer all of those questions by exploring every facet of molecular gastronomy -- the tools, the techniques and the ingredients.

It's Not Food Science?

Molecular gastronomy isn't the same as food science, which is concerned with analyzing the chemical makeup of food and developing methods to process food on an industrial scale. Molecular gastronomy takes advantage of many of the same scientific principles, such as the use of emulsifiers, but on a much smaller scale. In this respect, molecular gastronomy could be considered a branch of food science.

Culinary Physics or molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate, explain and make practical use of the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur while cooking, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena in general. Molecular gastronomy is a modern style of cooking, which is practiced by both scientists and food professionals in many professional kitchens and labs and takes advantage of many technical innovations from the scientific disciplines.

The term "molecular gastronomy" was coined in 1992 by late Oxford physicist Nicholas Kurti and the French INRA chemist Hervé This. Some chefs associated with the term choose to reject its use, preferring other terms such as culinary physics and experimental cuisine.


History

The father of gastronomy, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, defined 'gastronomy' in his 1825 masterpiece, Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste), as the knowledge and understanding of everything that relates to man as he eats. Its purpose is to ensure the conservation of men, using the best food possible. Nowadays, 'gastronomy' is used as a broad term that covers the art and science of good cooking, including aesthetics, the qualities of raw materials, food preparation and cooking techniques, flavor and the cultural history of cooking. A wide range of established scientific disciplines relate to gastronomy, in particular food chemistry and technology, sensory sciences and human nutrition. A recent trend, pioneered by the British-Hungarian physicist Nicolas Kurti and the French chemist Hervé This and fuelled by a close collaboration between scientists and chefs, has led to the new term 'molecular gastronomy'. A closer inspection of what molecular gastronomy is claimed to be shows that in most cases it tends to involve few if any quantitative molecular considerations. Despite the somewhat misleading terminology, or maybe exactly because of the use of this terminology, molecular gastronomy has received a lot of publicity among the general public and celebrated chefs. Some prominent chefs, including Heston Blumenthal, from restaurant The Fat Duck, and Ferran Adrià, from restaurant El Bulli, have issued disclaimers stating that their art and style of cooking cannot be described by the concept of molecular gastronomy.

In a recent review of molecular gastronomy, the British physicist Peter Barham and his colleagues made a serious attempt to define what molecular gastronomy is and how it differs from gastronomy. These authors advocate the very pragmatic viewpoint that molecular gastronomy "should be considered as the scientific study of why some food tastes terrible, some is mediocre, some good, and occasionally some absolutely delicious”. In this way, they strike a delicate balance between, on the one hand, considering food simply as materials with certain properties described by food chemistry, and, on the other hand, taking into account the empirical fact that there are very passionate feelings associated with food and eating. Although according to this definition there seems to be no specific reference to why the term 'molecular' is invoked, it is presupposed that the field is based on the utilization of molecularly based sciences such as chemistry for the scientific and systematic study of all aspects of food, including raw materials, cooking procedures, flavor, acceptance of food and systematization of recipes and cooking procedures. In contrast, aspects of human nutrition and health are less emphasized. The Barham et al. review ultimately concludes that "perhaps the most important objective of [molecular gastronomy] should be to delineate the essential principles that underpin our individual enjoyment of food”.

Molecular gastronomy heavily relies on well-established sciences such as food chemistry, general food science and food-processing technology, which are themselves, of course, of seminal importance for the food industry, although it has been claimed that there is very little science in the food industry. A related focus on the chemistry of food is internalized in a less well-defined discipline called 'culinary chemistry', a term directly inspired by the title of an 1821 book by the German chemist Friedrich Accum, who wrote about the practical aspects of applying scientific principles, in particular chemistry, to cooking.

molecular-gastronomy

The application of physical principles to study foods from a materials science perspective is well-established in research on food physics and food biophysics, with a focus on physical and physicochemical properties such as texture, foam stability, emulsification properties, phase transformations, the physical principles underlying cooking processes and so on. These approaches are traditionally separated from sensory sciences, and they are often less concerned with gastronomical considerations. Several popular science books are embodiments of this category. The most celebrated monograph on the science of cooking is Harold McGee's by now classic and encyclopedic monograph, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen.

In recent years, the collaboration between famous chefs and scientists has materialized in cookbooks that contain a significant element of scientific explanations, such as Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck Cookbook, and books that focus on the science of particular types of food, such as the science of ice cream, chocolate, pizza and sushi. The most recent development in writing on the science of cooking is embodied in the monumental five-volume tome by Nathan Myhrvold and colleagues on what is called 'Modernist Cuisine'. To date, Myhrvold's books provide the most comprehensive accounts of the physical aspects of food and cooking and could well qualify as a gastrophysical body of work, although he and his colleagues do not use the term 'gastrophysics' in their five-volume series. In fact, very little, if anything, that can be called 'scientific' is written about gastrophysics, and there appear to be no published scientific papers about gastrophysics.

It is the contention of the present paper that gastrophysics has as its goal the demonstration that fundamental principles of physics, in particular soft matter physics, biophysical chemistry and molecular biophysics, can and should be brought together in scientific work dealing with food and should focus on molecular aspects, as well as scientific mechanisms and explanations, and their relation to gastronomy to a much higher degree than traditional food chemistry and food physics. The perspective on the plethora of possible research activities within gastrophysics should be gastronomy itself. Gastrophysics takes gastronomy as its departure point of inspiration and uses gastronomical problems as a driving force. The intrinsic dynamics of this way of doing science is very similar to what has been witnessed in recent decades in the case of another emerging field of science, biological physics, which deals with biologically inspired physics problems. Biological physics not only solves problems in biology but also contributes to physics in general by revitalizing it and opening up a new empirical world for physicists. In a similar vein, gastrophysics uses gastronomical problems as a motor. Gastrophysics hence places itself as an emerging new scientific and molecularly based subdiscipline at the borders between soft matter physics and chemistry, culinary sciences, food chemistry and molecular gastronomy.

It is to be expected that a sufficiently original, ambitious and courageous research endeavor should be able to make significant advances in defining the emerging and little developed field of gastrophysics and demonstrate where it could lead. This is not to say that the various experimental, computational and theoretical methodologies, typical of the three pillars of modern natural science, which should be applied to gastrophysics, are in a similarly less advanced and less well-defined stage. On the contrary, the idea is to use, so to speak, the 'sharpest knives in the kitchen' to carve out the future of the field. These 'knives' include molecular simulation, single-molecule studies of taste, high-resolution micro- and nanoscale visualization of macromolecular aggregates of food molecules and particles, measurements of physical forces controlling the stability of food formulations, molecular-structural characterization of raw food materials and their transformation during preparation, cooking, ageing, drying, conservation and fermentation, as well as the design of physical model systems tailored to mimic, for example, the absorption of food molecules and food particles in the intestines. All of these approaches are highly sophisticated and advanced and are likely to make a strong impact on the emerging field of gastrophysics.

The present paper suggests that a unique and clear-cut opportunity exists to carve out the future for gastrophysical research by focusing attention on a specific class of materials, the marine macroalgae or seaweeds, which are virtually unexplored in a quantitative gastronomical setting. The bidirectional value of the approach, as implied by the analogy described above regarding biological physics, can then be assessed by investigating (1) how gastrophysics contributes to developing the algal cuisine and (2) how a focus on algae helps to frame gastrophysics as an emerging science.

There are many branches of food science, all of which study different aspects of food such as safety, microbiology, preservation, chemistry, engineering, physics and the like. Until the advent of molecular gastronomy, there was no formal scientific discipline dedicated to studying the processes in regular cooking as done in the home or in a restaurant. The aforementioned have mostly been concerned with industrial food production and while the disciplines may overlap with each other to varying degrees, they are considered separate areas of investigation.

Though many disparate examples of the scientific investigation of cooking exist throughout history, the creation of the discipline of molecular gastronomy was intended to bring together what had previously been fragmented and isolated investigation into the chemical and physical processes of cooking into an organized discipline within food science to address what the other disciplines within food science either do not cover, or cover in a manner intended for scientists rather than cooks. These mere investigations into the scientific process of cooking have unintentionally evolved into a revolutionary practice that is now prominent in today's culinary world.

The term "Molecular and Physical Gastronomy" was coined in 1992 by Hungarian physicist Nicholas Kurti and French physical chemist Hervé This. It became the title for a set of workshops held in Erice, Italy (originally titled "Science and Gastronomy") that brought together scientists and professional cooks for discussions on the science behind traditional cooking preparations. Eventually, the shortened term "Molecular Gastronomy" also became the name of the scientific discipline co-created by Kurti and This to be based on exploring the science behind traditional cooking methods.

Kurti and This had been the co-directors of the "Molecular and Physical Gastronomy" meetings in Erice, along with the American food science writer Harold McGee, and had considered the creation of a formal discipline around the subjects discussed in the meetings. After Kurti's death in 1998, the name of the Erice workshops was also changed by This to "The International Workshop on Molecular Gastronomy 'N. Kurti'". This remained the sole director of the subsequent workshops from 1999 through 2004 and continues his research in the field of Molecular Gastronomy today.

University of Oxford physicist Nicholas Kurti was an enthusiastic advocate of applying scientific knowledge to culinary problems. He was one of the first television cooks in the UK, hosting a black and white television show in 1969 entitled "The Physicist in the Kitchen" where he demonstrated techniques such as using a syringe to inject hot mince pies with brandy in order to avoid disturbing the crust. That same year, he held a presentation for the Royal Society of London (also entitled "The Physicist in the Kitchen") in which he is often quoted to have stated:

I think it is a sad reflection on our civilization that while we can and do measure the temperature in the atmosphere of Venus we do not know what goes on inside our soufflés. —Nicholas Kurti

During the presentation Kurti demonstrated making meringue in a vacuum chamber, the cooking of sausages by connecting them across a car battery, the digestion of protein by fresh pineapple juice, and a reverse baked alaska - hot inside, cold outside - cooked in a microwave oven. Kurti was also an advocate of low temperature cooking, repeating 18th century experiments by the English scientist Benjamin Thompson by leaving a 2 kg (4.4 lb) lamb joint in an oven at 80 °C (176 °F). After 8.5 hours, both the inside and outside temperature of the lamb joint were around 75 °C (167 °F), and the meat was tender and juicy. Together with his wife, Giana Kurti, Nicholas Kurti edited an anthology on food and science by fellows and foreign members of the Royal Society.

Hervé This started collecting "culinary precisions" (old kitchen wives' tales and cooking tricks) in the early 1980s and started testing these precisions to see which ones held up; his collection now numbers some 25,000. He also has received a PhD in Physical Chemistry of Materials for which he wrote his thesis on molecular and physical gastronomy, served as an adviser to the French minister of education, lectured internationally, and was invited to join the lab of Nobel Prize winning molecular chemist Jean-Marie Lehn. This has published several books in French, four of which have been translated into English, including Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor, Kitchen Mysteries: Revealing the Science of Cooking, Cooking: The Quintessential Art, and Building a Meal: From Molecular Gastronomy to Culinary Constructivism. He currently publishes a series of essays in French and hosts free monthly seminars on molecular gastronomy at the INRA in France. He gives free and public seminars on molecular gastronomy any month, and once a year, he gives a public and free course on molecular gastronomy. Hervé also authors a website and a pair of blogs on the subject in French and publishes monthly collaborations with French chef Pierre Gagnaire on Gagnaire's website.

Though she is rarely credited, the origins of the Erice workshops (originally entitled "Science and Gastronomy") can be traced back to the cooking teacher Elizabeth Cawdry Thomas who studied at Le Cordon Bleu in London and ran a cooking school in Berkeley, CA. The one-time wife of a physicist, Thomas had many friends in the scientific community and an interest in the science of cooking. In 1988 while attending a meeting at the Ettore Majorana Center for Scientific Culture in Erice, Thomas had a conversation with Professor Ugo Valdrè of the University of Bologna who agreed with her that the science of cooking was an undervalued subject and encouraged her to organize a workshop at the Ettore Majorana Center. Thomas eventually approached the director of the Ettore Majorana center, physicist Antonino Zichichi who liked the idea. Thomas and Valdrè approached Kurti to be the director of the workshop. By Kurti's invitation, noted food science writer Harold McGee and French Physical Chemist Hervé This became the co-organizers of the workshops, though McGee stepped down after the first meeting in 1992.

Up until 2001, The International Workshop on Molecular Gastronomy "N. Kurti" (IWMG) was named the "International Workshops of Molecular and Physical Gastronomy" (IWMPG). The first meeting was held in 1992 and the meetings have continued every few years thereafter until the most recent in 2004. Each meeting encompassed an overall theme broken down into multiple sessions over the course of a few days.

The focus of the workshops each year were as follows:

1992 - First Meeting
1995 - Sauces, or dishes made from them
1997 - Heat in cooking
1999 - Food flavors - how to get them, how to distribute them, how to keep them
2001 - Textures of Food: How to create them?
2004 - Interactions of food and liquids

Examples of sessions within these meetings have included:

a) Chemical Reactions in Cooking
b) Heat Conduction, Convection and Transfer
c) Physical aspects of food/liquid interaction
d) When liquid meets food at low temperature
e) Solubility problems, dispersion, texture/flavor relationship
f) Stability of flavor


Precursors

The idea of using techniques developed in chemistry to study food is not a new one, for instance the discipline of food science has existed for many years. Kurti and This acknowledged this fact and though they decided that a new, organized and specific discipline should be created within food science that investigated the processes in regular cooking (as food science was primarily concerned with the nutritional properties of food and developing methods to process food on an industrial scale), there are several notable examples throughout history of investigations into the science of everyday cooking recorded as far as back to 18th century.

Professors Evelyn G. Halliday and Isabel T. Noble: In 1943 the University of Chicago Press published a book entitled Food Chemistry and Cookery by the then University of Chicago Associate Professor of Home Economics Evelyn G. Halliday and University of Minnesota Associate Professor of Home Economics Isabel T Noble. In the foreword of the 346 page book the authors state that, "The main purpose of this book is to give an understanding of the chemical principles upon which good practices in food preparation and preservation are based."

The book includes chapters such as "The Chemistry of Milk", "The Chemistry of Baking Powders and Their Use in Baking", "The Chemistry of Vegetable Cookery" and "Determination of Hydrogen Ion Concentration" and contains numerous illustrations of lab experiments including such things as a Distillation Apparatus for Vegetable Samples and a Pipette for Determining the Relative Viscosity of Pectin Solutions. The professors had previously published The Hows and Whys of Cooking in 1928.

Professor Belle Lowe of Iowa State College (1886–1961): In 1932 a woman named Belle Lowe, then the professor of Food and Nutrition at Iowa State College, published a book entitled Experimental Cookery: From The Chemical And Physical Standpoint which became a standard textbook for home economics courses across the United States. The book is an exhaustively researched look into the science of everyday cooking referencing hundreds of sources and including many experiments. At a length of over 600 pages with section titles such as "The Relation Of Cookery To Colloidal Chemistry", "Coagulation Of Proteins", "The Factors Affecting The Viscosity Of Cream And Ice Cream", "Syneresis", "Hydrolysis Of Collagen" and "Changes In Cooked Meat And The Cooking Of Meat", the volume rivals or exceeds the scope of many other books on the subject, at a much earlier date.

Belle Lowe was born near Utica, Missouri on February 7, 1886. She graduated from Chillicothe High School and then received a teaching certificate (1907) from the Kirksville State Normal School in Kirksville, Missouri. She also received a Ph. B. (1911) and an M.S. (1934) from the University of Chicago. In 1957, Lowe received an honorary Ph.D. from Iowa State College (University). In addition to "Experimental Cookery", she published numerous articles on the subject of the science of cooking. She died in 1961.


According to Hervé This:

In the second century BC, the anonymous author of a papyrus kept in London used a balance to determine whether fermented meat was lighter than fresh meat. Since then, many scientists have been interested in food and cooking. In particular, the preparation of meat stock—the aqueous solution obtained by thermal processing of animal tissues in water—has been of great interest. It was first mentioned in the fourth century BC by Apicius (André (ed), 1987), and recipes for stock preparation appear in classic texts (La Varenne, 1651; Menon, 1756; Carême & Plumerey, 1981) and most French culinary books. Chemists have been interested in meat stock preparation and, more generally, food preparation since the eighteenth century (Lémery, 1705; Geoffrey le Cadet, 1733; Cadet de Vaux, 1818; Darcet, 1830). Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier is perhaps the most famous among them—in 1783, he studied the processes of stock preparation by measuring density to evaluate quality (Lavoisier, 1783). In reporting the results of his experiments, Lavoisier wrote, "Whenever one considers the most familiar objects, the simplest things, it's impossible not to be surprised to see how our ideas are vague and uncertain, and how, as a consequence, it is important to fix them by experiments and facts" (author's translation). Of course, Justus von Liebig should not be forgotten in the history of culinary science (von Liebig, 1852) and stock was not his only concern. Another important figure was Benjamin Thompson, later knighted Count Rumford, who studied culinary transformations and made many proposals and inventions to improve them, for example by inventing a special coffee pot for better brewing. There are too many scientists who have contributed to the science of food preparation to list here. — Hervé This, 2006

Marie-Antoine Carême (1784–1833): The concept of molecular gastronomy was perhaps presaged by Marie-Antoine Carême, one of the most famous French chefs, who said in the early 19th century that when making a food stock "the broth must come to a boil very slowly, otherwise the albumin coagulates, hardens; the water, not having time to penetrate the meat, prevents the gelatinous part of the osmazome from detaching itself."


Objectives

The objectives of molecular gastronomy, as defined by Hervé This are:

Current objectives:

Looking for the mechanisms of culinary transformations and processes (from a chemical and physical point of view) in three areas:

1) the social phenomena linked to culinary activity
2) the artistic component of culinary activity
3) the technical component of culinary activity

Original objectives:

The original fundamental objectives of molecular gastronomy were defined by This in his doctoral dissertation as:

1) Investigating culinary and gastronomical proverbs, sayings, and old wives' tales
2) Exploring existing recipes
3) Introducing new tools, ingredients and methods into the kitchen
4) Inventing new dishes
5) Using molecular gastronomy to help the general public understand the contribution of science to society

However, This later recognized points 3, 4 and 5 as being not entirely scientific endeavors (more application of technology and educational), and has since revised the primary objectives of molecular gastronomy.


Examples

Example areas of investigation:

1) How ingredients are changed by different cooking methods
2) How all the senses play their own roles in our appreciation of food
3) The mechanisms of aroma release and the perception of taste and flavor
4) How and why we evolved our particular taste and flavor sense organs and our general food likes and dislikes
5) How cooking methods affect the eventual flavor and texture of food ingredients
6) How new cooking methods might produce improved results of texture and flavor
7) How our brains interpret the signals from all our senses to tell us the "flavor" of food
8) How our enjoyment of food is affected by other influences, our environment, our mood, how it is presented, who prepares it, etc.

Example myths debunked or explained:

1) The cooking time for roast meat depends on the weight (true or myth?)

Examples of myths that were true before, but not any more:

1) You need to add salt to water when cooking green vegetables (not true with commercial salt)

Examples of debunked myths:

1) Searing meat seals in the juices (not true)
2) When cooking meat stock you must start with cold water (not true).


Eponymous Recipes

New dishes named after famous scientists include:

1) Gibbs - infusing vanilla pods in egg white with sugar, adding olive oil and then microwave cooking. Named after physicist Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839–1903).

2) Vauquelin - using orange juice or cranberry juice with added sugar when whipping eggs to increase the viscosity and to stabilize the foam, and then microwave cooking. Named after Nicolas Vauquelin (1763–1829), one of Lavoisier's teachers.

3) Baumé - soaking a whole egg for a month in alcohol to create a coagulated egg. Named after the French chemist Antoine Baumé (1728–1804).


As a Style of Cooking

The term molecular gastronomy was originally intended to refer only to the scientific investigation of cooking, though it has been adopted by a number of people and applied to cooking itself or to describe a style of cuisine.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the term started to be used to describe a new style of cooking in which some chefs began to explore new possibilities in the kitchen by embracing science, research, technological advances in equipment and various natural gums and hydrocolloids produced by the commercial food processing industry. It has since been used to describe the food and cooking of a number of famous chefs, though many of them do not accept the term as a description of their style of cooking.

 molecular-gastronomy-recipe

Other names for the style of cuisine practiced by these chefs include:

1) Avant-garde cuisine
2) Culinary constructivism
3) Cocina de vanguardia - term used by Ferran Adrià
4) Emotional cuisine
5) Experimental cuisine
6) Forward-thinking movement - term used at Grant Achatz's Alinea
7) Kitchen science
8) Modern cuisine
9) Modernist Cuisine, title of cookbook endorsed by Ferran Adrià of El Bulli and David Chang
10) Molecular cuisine
11) Molecular cooking
12) New cuisine
13) New cookery
14) Nueva cocina
15) Progressive cuisine
16) Techno-emotional cuisine—term preferred by elBulli research and development chef Alain Devahive
17) Technologically forward cuisine
18) Vanguard cuisine
19) Techno-cuisine

No singular name has ever been applied in consensus, and the term "molecular gastronomy" continues to be used often as a blanket term to refer to any and all of these things - particularly in the media. Ferran Adrià hates the term "molecular gastronomy"  and prefers 'deconstructivist' to describe his style of cooking. A 2006 open letter by Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller and Harold McGee published in The Times used no specific term, referring only to "a new approach to cooking" and "our cooking".


Chefs

Chefs who are often associated with molecular gastronomy because of their embrace of science include Grant Achatz, Ferran Adrià, José Andrés, Sat Bains, Richard Blais, Marcel Vigneron, Heston Blumenthal, Sean Brock, Homaro Cantu, Michael Carlson, Wylie Dufresne, Pierre Gagnaire, Will Goldfarb, Adam Melonas, Randy Rucker, Kevin Sousa, Sean Wilkinson, Will LaRue, RJ Cooper and Laurent Gras.

Frustrated with the common mis-classification of their food and cooking as "molecular gastronomy", several chefs often associated with the movement (Ferran Adria of El Bulli, Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck, Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se) have since repudiated the term, releasing a joint statement in 2006 clarifying their approach to cooking, stating that the term "molecular gastronomy" was coined in 1992 for a single workshop that did not influence them, and that the term does not describe any style of cooking.

In February 2011, Nathan Myhrvold published the Modernist Cuisine, which led many chefs to further classify molecular gastronomy versus modernist cuisine. Myhrvold believes that his cooking style should not be called molecular gastronomy.


Here are some other tools you might need to master molecular gastronomy:

1) Vacuum machine. Remember the sous vide steak we talked about last section? If you really want to do the job right, consider a vacuum sealer. A good model will evacuate the air from plastic bags and then seal the bag tightly closed. You can also buy a thermal bath to provide precise heating of your water bath.

2) Hypodermic syringe. You may shudder at the sight of a needle, but you may have to overcome your fear if you want to practice molecular gastronomy. As we've already seen, syringes are helpful in the process of spherification. Some chefs also use them to inject liquids into meat to enhance flavor and texture.

3) Liquid nitrogen. At a temperature of -321 degrees F (-196 degrees C), liquid nitrogen will flash freeze any food it touches. As it boils away, it gives off a dense nitrogen fog that can add atmosphere and drama to food preparation. Unfortunately, liquid nitrogen must be transported in specially made flasks and can be dangerous if it touches skin. A safer alternative is the Anti-Griddle, described next.

4) Anti-Griddle. The Anti-Griddle, a product of PolyScience, looks like a traditional cooktop, but it doesn't heat up food. Its -30 degrees F (-34 degrees C) surface instantly freezes sauces and purées or freezes just the outer surfaces of a dish while maintaining a creamy center.

5) The Gastrovac. Manufactured by International Cooking Concepts, the Gastrovac is three tools in one: a Crock-pot, a vacuum pump and a heating plate. In its low-pressure, oxygen-free atmosphere, the Gastrovac cooks food faster at lower temperatures, which helps the food maintain its texture, color and nutrients. When the food is done warming, you restore the pressure and create what ICC calls the "sponge effect." The liquid rushes back into the food, bringing intense flavors with it.

Of course, you'll need to have a well-stocked spice rack to accompany your high-end gadgets. We've already discussed alginate and calcium chloride -- the two chemicals needed for spherification. Another important gelling agent is methylcellulose, which congeals in hot water, then becomes liquid again as it cools. Emulsifiers are a must for maintaining a uniform dispersion of one liquid in another, such as oil in water. Two popular emulsifiers are soy lecithin and xanthan gum. Finally, more and more molecular gastronomists are turning to transglutanimase, a chemical that causes proteins to stick together. Because meat is protein, chefs can do inventive things with transglutaminase, such as removing all fat from a steak and gluing it back together or fashioning noodles from shrimp meat.


Molecular Gastronomy Techniques, Tools, and Ingredients

1) Carbon dioxide source, for adding bubbles and making foams
2) Foams can also be made with an immersion blender
3) Liquid nitrogen, for flash freezing and shattering
4) Ice cream maker, often used to make unusual flavors, including savory
5) Anti-griddle, for cooling and freezing
6) Thermal immersion circulator for sous-vide (low temperature cooking)
7) Food dehydrator
8) Centrifuge
9) Maltodextrin - can turn a high-fat liquid into a powder
10) Sugar substitutes
11) Enzymes
12) Lecithin - an emulsifier and non-stick agent
13) Hydrocolloids such as starch, gelatin, pectin, and natural gums - used as thickening agents, gelling agents, emulsifying agents, and stabilizers, sometimes needed for foams
14) Transglutaminase - a protein binder, called meat glue
15) Spherification - a caviar-like effect
16) Syringe, for injecting unexpected fillings
17) Edible paper made from soybeans and potato starch, for use with edible fruit inks and an inkjet printer
18) Aromatic accompaniment: gases trapped in a bag, a serving device, or the food itself; an aromatic substance presented as a garnish or inedible tableware; or a smell produced by burning
19) Presentation style is often whimsical or avant-garde, and may include unusual service ware
20) Unusual flavor combinations (food pairings) are favored, such as combining savory and sweet
21) Using ultrasound to achieve more precise cooking times


Molecular Gastronomy Chefs:
1) Herve This
2) Grant Achatz
3) Ferran Adrià
4) José Andrés
5) Dave Arnold
6) Peter Barham
7) Heston Blumenthal
8) Homaro Cantu
9) Shirley Corriher
10) Wylie Dufresne
11) Luke Hayes-Alexander
12) Harold McGee
13) Adam Melonas
14) Don Mottram
15) Nathan Myhrvold
16) Russ Parsons
17) Alessandro Stratta
18) Marcel Vigneron
19) Robert Wolke

Molecular Gastronomy Restaurants
1) Alex
2) Alinea
3) elBulli
4) Moto
5) The Fat Duck
6) Schwa



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Palmer, Sharon. "Molecular Gastronomy -- Discovering the 'Science of Deliciousness.'" Today's Dietician. Vol. 8, No. 5. (Dec. 26, 2008)http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/may2006pg44.shtml

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