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I’m a huge fan of advances in technology and making way for the future. I don’t just mean in the world of computers or microchips… I also mean in the culinary arts. Molecular Gastronomy is where I’m headed. Molecular gastronomy is a discipline practiced by both scientists and food professionals that studies the physical and chemical processes that occur while cooking. In other words, taking scientific techniques and applying them in the kitchen. Sounds like it would be way too hard to even begin… HOWEVER there is a way!! ThinkGeek has an excellent example of a great starter for people wanting to learn how to use the techniques in Molecular Gastronomy.
Get yours here. (Product may be out of stock. ThinkGeek will contact when available)
Information is beautiful. In a world of complex systems, we often occupy it not really understanding the nature of the many behaviors we perform on a daily basis. We are all a bit culpable for this. We take things for granted, we don’t have time or we are not inquisitive enough to dive in and inquire why things happen or how things work. Life in its simplest of terms is beautiful but overwhelming. Nonetheless, our mind and creativity continues to inspire us and see things in new ways. In the world of information graphics, we look for ways,methods and techniques to communicate systems in its simplest visual form. We consider audience, data and delivery and attempt to bring clarity to complexity for all of us to decode. It is truly a magnificent field that requires a lot of practice and skill. To engage the widest audience and have everyone receive the information clearly is a perpetual pursuit of information designers.
I came across Nathan Myhrvold not through his past experience as the former Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft or his post doctoral fellowship under Stephen Hawking but through his latest pursuit to dissect food and explain it beautifully in his latest book Modernist Cuisine. As a food lover and follower of molecular gastronomy, I have been exposed to the work of the best minds behind this practice for cooking. Thanks to a good friend that works for Jose Andres, I have dived into the creativity, ingenuity and science of people like: 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 and Laurent Gras.
Although Nathan Myhrvold is a master chef, he has decided to use his time to develop a comprehensive collection of information gastronomy in his lab. What seems to be digital section cuts of kitchen and cooking equipment, is really a physical section cut of these objects. Using heavy machinery and careful design of instrumentation, he creates the image and then photographs the scenes as they function to capture the nature of their use and show what it does to food. Most of the work happens prior to laying it on paper. The careful craft of the cuts, food and chemistry of the cooking is at least 90% of the work. Using text and laying it on paper is just the medium in which he chooses to present and further explain the intricate process of the scene.
What we get is an amazing moment in time, a picture that our eyes never see and a rich recipe to how food works. As someone he spends plenty of time looking and developing sections in the world of architecture, I appreciate this kind of view. A fascinating narration of chemistry, physics, flavor, and culture. I hope you guys enjoy it!
Being a fan of cramming things in my piehole means I read things on the internet about stuff to cram in there. A lot. And I vicariously devour the photos and the recipes, bones, hair and all. Okay, there’s no bony or hairy recipes I’m into, it’s a fucking metaphor. Just listen for a minute.
You know how on all the competition shows they’re always trying to find the next thing? Something that hasn’t been done. Something that seems crazy, but just might work? Yeah, that foodie orgasm so elusive that people pay a 500% mark-up after waiting in line for hours even with a reservation? That thing that has “chefs” serving foams and flavored air and calling it food? Godammit cut that shit out.
I’m all for science, but some of this crap is more like Scientology. They force you to believe you’re experiencing something above the level of human understanding and snob-it-up enough to give it the illusion of ethereal bliss, but what you wind-up with is a blob of goo and an empty wallet.
Then for dessert, they give you this:
That’s cilantro on a piece of pie. Fuck you! I don’t want your lawn clippings on my pie. Also, that is not a piece of pie. I bet it costs $4000, too. Pardonnez-moi, €4000. I don’t want rosemary in my ice cream. I don’t want tarragon in my cheesecake. Stop herbing my dessert.
I understand there’s a place for inventive chefery and if it results in a successful pairing of flavors, go for it. It will stand the test of time. But when the local watering hole tries to embrace the trend with their “Herbed Grapefruit Margarita,” it makes it difficult to keep a straight face. Show your prowess with classic flavors and surprise with new ideas but stop trying to shock and awe the hungry masses. There’s a reason people dislike that phrase. It’s unecessary and boastful and something Donald Rumsfield would be into. No one wants that, man. No one.