Molecular Gastronomy 101

Anmol Chandhok , who is currently a student of Food Technology at  Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) has tried to breakdown how Molecular Gastronomy works through a series of articles. We are sure that once you have read these articles you will be familiar with the term and will be in a position to appreciate the amazing food served to you at many popular and trendy restaurants in India and around the World. Hopefully you will even be able to use techniques of spherification at home for a nice sit down meal and enthrall your guests with your culinary skills and vow their eyes and taste buds !

” As a student of Food Science, I have explored the various aspects of Food Science, including the preservation, microbiology, analysis, chemistry, and engineering of food. While all of these are primarily concerned with industrial food processing, Molecular Gastronomy is essentially a discussion of the science behind traditional cooking, explaining the chemistry and physics that many amateur cooks might learn instinctively by experience, but never give a second thought to outside their kitchens.

Chefs and scientists from as far back as the early twentieth century have utilised various fundamental principles of science to cook traditional items in unconventional ways. Hungarian born experimental physicist Nicholas Kurti, one of those who worked on the infamous Manhattan project in World War II, was passionate about cooking and applied the same principles he used in laboratories in his kitchen. He even hosted a black and white show in 1969 entitled ‘The Physicist in the Kitchen’, and held presentations for the Royal Society for science in London with the same title.

Herve is a French physical chemist who started collecting old wives’ tales in the 1980s and testing their scientific soundness. His extensive work earned him the title of the ‘Father of Molecular Gastronomy’, and he has written several books on the subject. He defined the objective of this discipline as “Looking for the mechanisms of culinary transformations and processes (from a chemical and physical point of view) in three areas:

  • the social phenomena linked to culinary activity
  • the artistic component of culinary activity
  • the technical component of culinary activity ”

More recently, Molecular Gastronomy has been used to describe a style of cooking where chefs have embraced science, technology, and new ingredients to give their audiences culinary experiences beyond the ordinary. They’ve used several names to describe their individual styles, ‘Avant-garde’, ‘Culinary constructivism’, ‘Modernist cuisine’ and explored how subtle changes in technique, environment and/or ingredients can affect the flavour and texture of various foods.

They’ve used tools like centrifuges, ultrasound generators and dehydrators once only found in labs; ingredients such as enzymes, hydrocolloids, liquid nitrogen and anything else they can get their hands on; and techniques like spherification and sous-vide to subvert diner’s expectations and leave them craving more. ”

Join us on this journey as we break the complex science of cooking down to simple yet fantastic techniques and chemical reactions that will surely add a fizz ,sparkle and even flavour to your food. Think of Watermelon Caviar or Chicken & garlic flavoured ice cream !

Stay tuned for more….

# photo courtesy El Bulli & here

#all views of above said author are his own & not of the the company Chenab Impex Pvt. Ltd  or it's sister concerns.
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