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British Restaurant 'Critics'


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I want to make sure I understand your frame of reference Dirk. Can you list who you would call Molecular Gastronomists for us?

I entirely understand if you don't want to contribute to this discussion or reply to anything I've said, but for my part I think I've put my case as succinctly as I can, so can you please stop demanding that I write you lists?

Dirk, I'm not demanding that you write me lists. I'm reading what you're saying with great enthusiasm. I just like to really understand the point that someone's coming from. Forgive me if you think I'm not contributing, I just want to understand more. At this moment in time I don't think you are making an especially clear arguement, but you do, so I'm just keen to understand who you are thinking of when you talk about Molecular Gastronomists*

*often called Culinary Constructivists now BTW.

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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I'm not aware of Heston Blumenthal distancing himself from Molecular Gastronomy, quite the opposite.

The application of this term as related to a food movement is only something used by the press as a tag, and so misappropriated by the public as a style of preparation.

Which is to say: you can use all of the principles as outlined by the various MG studies, and come up with an end result that you would otherwise call Nouvelle Cuisine. Keller uses MG information, as does Ducasse (in most of his restaurants). Neither could accurately be called a part of the MG movement.

I quite agree, but from the perspective of a restaurant-goer there is a distinct correlation between a certain type of food and the invocation of MG. For example, bacon & egg ice-cream is not bacon & egg ice cream but 'encapsulated flavour'. The point is that despite being imprecise in my use of terminology there is an 'I know it when I see it' type of menu that corresponds to MG, even though, as you say, the technological know-how is available to, and used by many of those who are outside my definition. In fact, this detail does tend to suggest that there is an element of choice involved as to how much a chef professes to base his cuisine on MG, and those, like Heston, who are closely aligned with the term are probably related this way because they want to be.

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the MG doctrine that good cooking is a science, and that by learning that science you will become a good cook is clearly nonsense if one considers that just about all good cooks are not molecular gastronomers.

There is no MG doctrine. If there was, it certainly wouldn't be this one. A good cook is a good cook. A bad cook is my mother-in-law.

Someone who suspends a piece of protein in a vacuum at 58 degrees centigrade for 3 days is trying to alter the internal structure of the collagen to the strands of muscle fibre. See the difference?

You're right, doctrine is the wrong term, but I still maintain that those that cite MG as the basis of their technique imply with their 'perfect' dishes, that any other approach is flawed.

However, I do see the difference, I also hear the difference (a lot), but I'm sceptical because I don't taste the difference.

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How did Wittgenstein put it? "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world".  An individual's perception of what molecular gastronomy means is probably highly personal and based on their own experiences, or more likely, their own reading.  Being a relatively novel term, it is by nature perceived to be more fluid than, for example, 'cuisine de terroir', 'cuisine minceur', 'nouvelle cuisine', all terms of longer standing.

Cooking techniques are the elementary propositions that make up the complex proposition that is MG. These cooking techniques rightly reflect the reality of cooking and so proves Wittgenstein's 'The limits of my language mean the limits of my world'. So how can MG be highly personal or relative to their experiences?

That is one way to look at it.

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Is that a regional type of sausage?

with lightly whipped horseradish.

FaustianBargain - re: language and perception - I have an idea about what MG is. You do too, and probably a good chunk of people on eG and in the culinary realm as a whole. In the same way that 'dog' can be both a specific and relative term depending on your experiences of canines, MG can be a fairly fluid term according to my experiences of it, yours, everyone else's...

MG is, of course, a hook on which to hang things, or, as the otterish one rightly pointed out, a pigeonhole. If one was to say Blumenthal's cooking, Rogan's cooking, or Veyrat's cooking, then one is being more specific; nevertheless, pigeonholes are there for convenience and to avoid the need to explain the same thing twenty seven times when one can say 'Molecular Gastronomy' and be done with it. An umbrella term? Certainly, but one which is widely used and which we would be naive to ignore.

Personally, I think MG will be tempered by time and will prove to have an important influence on the culinary scene. Does anyone remember the outrageous excesses of the nouvelle cuisine of the 80s?

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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