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BryanZ

Trends and Philosophy in Molecular Gastronomy

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The 2002 version of The Fat Duck website:

http://web.archive.org/web/20020802192042/...od_science.html

The Science of Food

Science has had a direct influence on the composition of the menu at the Fat Duck. New cooking techniques derived by questioning the fundamentals of accepted culinary practise, have directly impacted on the structure of the menu.

In order to better understand how this interaction works at the Fat Duck, this section has been divided into 6 subsections:

Low Temperature Cooking

Palate Cleansers

Brain to Palate Connection

Encapsulated Flavours

Distilled Flavours

Compounds of Foods

If you would like to join the molecular gastronomy discussion group

please click here.


"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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In contrast to the above:

Still live on the El Bulli website.

About Molecular Cuisine - By Ferran Adria

http://www.elbulli.com/historia/docs/2003-...olecular_en.pdf

To claim that anyone using these

products is practising molecular cuisine only serves to confuse the

public, as does the suggestion that the first person to make a foam or a

savoury ice cream was guided by scientific principle (and God only

knows how ignorant we were of the world of science when we had the

idea of using the whipped cream siphon in 1994).


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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Sizzleteeth,

Better sharpen those teeth, cause its time to eat. You contradict yourself more than I do, which is more than anyone I know.

Question.....when does earth run out of natural resources (yes this has everything to do with science in food).

Its been too long "Nathan", I have been itching for a good fight. BTW, make sure to calculate the energy consumed for every keystroke when replying. There are only so many left on this planet, but who cares, you will be long gone by the time the next generation has to answer to our scientific misstakes.

Lets see how does this work.....cooking=the transfer of heat=the transfer of energy=finite resources=sustainable life. So this means we need to get to know the subject in its entirety rather than wind up on the wrong end of the equation.

Your move.

This post was edited to add a little extra sizzle to the pan.

In contrast to the above:

Still live on the El Bulli website.

About Molecular Cuisine - By Ferran Adria

http://www.elbulli.com/historia/docs/2003-...olecular_en.pdf

To claim that anyone using these

products is practising molecular cuisine only serves to confuse the

public, as does the suggestion that the first person to make a foam or a

savoury ice cream was guided by scientific principle (and God only

knows how ignorant we were of the world of science when we had the

idea of using the whipped cream siphon in 1994).


Edited by inventolux (log)

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

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Sizzleteeth,

Better sharpen those teeth, cause its time to eat. You contradict yourself more than I do, which is more than anyone I know.

Up early today I see, though I'm not sure what there is to "fight" about, as supposedly...

Molecular gastronomy is dead.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/foodmonthly...1969722,00.html

Though I'm not sure what anger of yours would be directed at me, because I certainly didn't kill it, and I actually find it a bit unfair - especially seeing that the creator is not even able to defend himself, having passed on some time ago.

I don't believe that "Molecular Gastronomy" is the issue - or that it ever really was. It was simply incorrectly applied as a label to something else and fell victim to guilt by association.

Like blaming the scientists who defined the properties of nitroglycerin, instead of the people using the information to blow up buildings (instead of treat heart conditions).

It is conceivable that you would find my particular style of argument contradictory, since I am not exclusively on any side and agree/disagree with elements belonging to the same category, and I'm sure you will continue to see it as such.

I'm a bit busy during the day, so please continue with whatever it is you have to say and I will do my best to respond this evening.

Though I cannot predict the future.


"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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In the car the other day I found myself wanting ketchup on my fries but unable to dip for safety reasons. Then I wondered why nobody has yet figured out how to put cold ketchup inside the french fry and then I had the lightbulb. This is the future of molecular gastronomy. Mr. Rogov said it first in this thread. This too shall pass. I think this too shall largely pass from haute cooking. But it will take root in food production for the masses where there is a boundless appetite for neat tricks with food or fire (fourth of July) or gravity (bungee jumping) or momentum (rollercoasters).


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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So what you're painting is a cyclical picture. Something as basic as Jello commercialized and popularized mass-produced gelatin desserts. Now we're doing all sorts of weird stuff with gelling agents and hydrocolloids. I think you're largely right that the majority of techniques being discovered now will pass out of fashion. With that said, a solid understanding of food science and a few revolutionary techniques like sous vide are by no means bad and will certainly have legs.

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Agreed. And ketchup inside french fries.


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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I haven't been reading a ton about this molecular gastronomy and it's not really my cuppa tea. Those credentials in mind, I'm reluctant to associate sous vide cooking with it. Sous vide goes way back. The plastic part is new and ability to take so much air out is new but before plastic there was slow and low in an animal skin bag. I think sous vide itself is evolution, not revolution. And a useful tool for making science food. (but so are conventional pots and pans and ovens).


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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If you dont call cornstarch molecular gastronomy, stop calling hydrocolloids molecular gastronomy. We really have to stop this ridiculous trend.

Herve This' book molecular gastronomy is an example of what a scientist does to examine food and make it better by understanding it at a molecular level. Using alginate doesn't mean you understand anything at a molecular level so why do we keep using this title!

by the way, the food one this site doesn't look that great, looks like something I could have bought 10 years ago.


Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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If you dont call cornstarch molecular gastronomy, stop calling hydrocolloids molecular gastronomy.  We really have to stop this ridiculous trend.

Herve This' book molecular gastronomy is an example of what a scientist does to examine food and make it better by understanding it at a molecular level.  Using alginate doesn't mean you understand anything at a molecular level so why do we keep using this title!

by the way, the food one this site doesn't look that great, looks like something I could have bought 10 years ago.

Agreed.... I've been using agar agar and xanthan gum in my pastry for nearly a decade.

(And I barely even know what I'm doing. :wacko: )

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"Molecular gastronomy" is a term that was coined by Nicholas Kurti back in the 1990s to describe an examination of the science behind cooking (on the molecular level). This doesn't seem to be a terribly inappropriate usage of the term, although some people prefer "molecular and physical gastronomy."

This term later came to be associated not only with the examination of the science behind cooking, but with the application in cooking of the knowledge so gained in novel and unexpected ways. In other words: the application of molegular gastronomy the scientific investigation gave rise to molecular gastronomy the cooking school.

I can see the logic behind the use of this term, but it does fairly well summarize a certain approach to cooking and food. And while we can quibble that "all cooking has molecules," at some point we devolve into the kind of reasoning that says "all behavior is just biology, but all biology is just chemistry, but all chemistry is just physics (etc.)" when there are good and logical reasons not only to maintain chemistry and physics as separate disciplines, but also to have both physical chemistry and chemical physics!

Perhaps something like "scientifically informed new cuisine" might be a more accurate term, but "molecular gastronomy" is hardly the least appropriately applied cooking term. How about sauté?


Edited by slkinsey (log)

--

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I don't disagree that there is a difference between the quasi-scientific exploration of cooking and the application of the knowledge so gained. This is a fairly minor nit you're picking here. But, if you want to pick nits...

"Gastronomy" has many possible definitions, including:

  • The art and practice of choosing and preparing and eating good food
  • A particular style of cookery (e.g., "Southern gastronomy")
  • The study of the relationship between food and culture

"Molecular" ("relating to, produced by or consisting of molecules") makes some sense, in consideration of the fact that people seek to understand how food behaves and interacts on a molecular level, and to apply that knowledge to produce new and unexpected effects.

Slap these two words together, and what do you get? Well, I'll tell you what you don't get. You don't get your definition, which seems to be: "the scientific exploration of the chemical and physical properties, relationships and reactions of food items, including the first-time application by the investigator of the knowledge thus gained in a new and unexpected expression of the ingredients in a culinary preparation." Rather, you get something like: "a style of cooking based upon an understanding of the molecular properties of food" -- which one could differentiate from regular gastronomy by adding "applied to produce effects not possible with traditional cooking techniques."

So, despite your protestations, the appellation "gastronomy" is misapplied to the scientific investigation and not so much to the style of cooking. A better way to describe what you think is the only thing that should be called "molecular gastronomy" is plain old "food science," and the people you would call "molecular gastronomists" are more appropriately called "food scientists."

"Gastronomy," on the other hand, is a word that is appropriately applied to a style of cooking. I would argue that it is only when food science is applied to the preparation of food to produce a new and unexpected effect that it becomes "molecular gastronomy."


--

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I don't disagree that there is a difference between the quasi-scientific exploration of cooking and the application of the knowledge so gained.  This is a fairly minor nit you're picking here.  But, if you want to pick nits...

"Gastronomy" has many possible definitions, including:

  • The art and practice of choosing and preparing and eating good food
  • A particular style of cookery (e.g., "Southern gastronomy")
  • The study of the relationship between food and culture

"Molecular" ("relating to, produced by or consisting of molecules") makes some sense, in consideration of the fact that people seek to understand how food behaves and interacts on a molecular level, and to apply that knowledge to produce new and unexpected effects.

Slap these two words together, and what do you get?  Well, I'll tell you what you don't get.  You don't get your definition, which seems to be: "the scientific exploration of the chemical and physical properties, relationships and reactions of food items, including the first-time application by the investigator of the knowledge thus gained in a new and unexpected expression of the ingredients in a culinary preparation."  Rather, you get something like: "a style of cooking based upon an understanding of the molecular properties of food" -- which one could differentiate from regular gastronomy by adding "applied to produce effects not possible with traditional cooking techniques."

So, despite your protestations, the appellation "gastronomy" is misapplied to the scientific investigation and not so much to the style of cooking.  A better way to describe what you think is the only thing that should be called "molecular gastronomy" is plain old "food science," and the people you would call "molecular gastronomists" are more appropriately called "food scientists."

"Gastronomy," on the other hand, is a word that is appropriately applied to a style of cooking.  I would argue that it is only when food science is applied to the preparation of food to produce a new and unexpected effect that it becomes "molecular gastronomy."

Very well put, slkinsey. Maybe now we can put this baby to bed.

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my 2p, will try to keep it as concise as possible. My background in neuroscience, not cooking, but I am very interested in both. The problem with MG is the term itself... it really does not say anything. I don't know who came up with it ( I believe it was Kurti) , but it is a term that really says nothing.

In my opinion we have two branches: Food science (which includes, chemists, physicists, doctors, neuroscientists etc) and cooking (chefs). Food science tries to explain physical and chemical properties of food.

Chefs cook. Sometimes chefs cook borrowing methods discovered from food scientists, or other scientists in the industry. Adria did not discover spherification, he borrowed it.

All the hydrocolloid are being used in food industry for decades. How many years has light mayo been around. 20-30 years? well, this was because they have been using xanthan gum to stabilize the emulsion with less fat. that's it. Check almost any produce

Chefs are borrowing ingredients and techniques that have been around for decades. Yes, some have been pioneers (like Adria et al) and have been using them creatively in their restaurants, mainly to create new methods of presentation (a pea ravioli will always taste as pea puree; olive oil sand made with oil and maltodextrin always tastes like olive oil... ). Molecular gastronomists did not discover alginate, xanthan, guar, methol, activa, malto, lecithin etc. Scientists did. Food industry used them extensively the last 50 years. Chefs use them the last 10. what do you think the "E" numbers and "stabilizers" at the back of products is...

What we call molecular gastronomy, is as much of a progress in cooking as nouvelle cuisine to traditional french cuisine. The use of xanthan in a sauce is as much of progress as a the use of cornstarch, or the use of reduction to create rich sauces without the use of roux (which was one of the big contributions of nouvelle cuisine).

Hope this made some sense, sorry if it was too long...

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my 2p, will try to keep it as concise as possible. My background in neuroscience, not cooking, but I am very interested in both. The problem with MG is the term itself... it really does not say anything. I don't know who came up with it ( I believe it was Kurti) , but it is a term that really says nothing.

In my opinion we have two branches: Food science (which includes, chemists, physicists, doctors, neuroscientists etc) and cooking (chefs). Food science tries to explain physical and chemical properties of food.

Chefs cook. Sometimes chefs cook borrowing methods discovered from food scientists, or other scientists in the industry. Adria did not discover spherification, he borrowed it.

All the hydrocolloid are being used in food industry for decades. How many years has light mayo been around. 20-30 years? well, this was because they have been using xanthan gum to stabilize the emulsion with less fat. that's it. Check almost any produce

Chefs are borrowing ingredients and techniques that have been around for decades. Yes, some have been pioneers (like Adria et al) and have been using them creatively in their restaurants, mainly to create new methods of presentation (a pea ravioli will always taste as pea puree; olive oil sand made with oil and maltodextrin always tastes like olive oil... ). Molecular gastronomists did not discover alginate, xanthan, guar, methol, activa, malto, lecithin etc. Scientists did. Food industry used them extensively the last 50 years. Chefs use them the last 10. what do you think the "E" numbers and "stabilizers" at the back of products is...

What we call molecular gastronomy, is as much of a progress in cooking as nouvelle cuisine to traditional french cuisine. The use of xanthan in a sauce is as much of progress as a the use of cornstarch, or the use of reduction to create rich sauces without the use of roux (which was one of the big contributions of nouvelle cuisine).

Hope this made some sense, sorry if it was too long...

Every word made sense, but still don't know which side of the table your sitting on though.

Very simply, the word Molecular (I dont care about the word gastronomy so I am no even going to argue that one) does not belong anywhere its being placed in the restaurant industry right now. I doubt most people that use the word even know what a molecule is.

Nouvelle Cuisine still works for this genre of cooking , "New Cuisine". But because "Nouvelle Cuisine" is not and old title we have to find something to replace it for today's chefs.

I'll be honest, you can think I am dumb all you want, but I have absolutely no idea what you just said in your last post slkinsey. I would argue it, but it seems like a patch work of random opinions and facts sewn together in a statement. So maybe you can break it down for me exactly what you are trying to say?

your last statement which sounds like it was taken from wikipedia's definition is the only one that gastronomy should be referred to, just because some people use it to mean something else, doesn't make it right, so let's stick to that definition for analysis of this phrase.


Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Sorry you couldn't understand my post, Dean. It seems clear to me and others. But, what the heck -- I've got the most recent edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Let's bring out the Big Book...

gastronomy [ad. F. gastronomie (first occurring as the title of a poem by Berchoux 1801) a. Gr. γαστρονομία (the title of a poem quoted by Athenaeus) f. γαστρ(ο)-, stomach, on the analogy of αστρονομία, astronomy.]  The art and science of delicate eating.

1814 Sir. R. Wilson Priv. Diary II 345 The banquet was according to all the rules of perfect gastronomy. 1837 M. Donovan Dom. Econ. II. 379 The march of improvement will induce the professors of gastronomy to elevate their calling. 1845 Ford Handb. Spain II. 25 This trait of Spanish gastronomy was not lost on the author of Gil Blas.

I think it's a reasonable extension to suppose that the art and science of good eating includes the selection and preparation of good things to be eaten.

Many dictionaries (although not the OED) add a secondary meaning along the lines of "culinary customs or style."

The definition of "gastronomy" you prefer is furthered by... well, you and wikipedia.


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yes, you are right, there was no rationale... I believe this:

there is no such thing as molecular gastronomy, as a style of cooking. Heck, I will go as far to say that there is no such thing as molecular gastronomy, as it is a invalid term.

Chefs tend (less nowadays) describe their style of cooking as "Molecular gastronomy", as one is saying "I cook italian", or "I cook French" etc. This is just silly... just because someone uses lecithin to make a foam (instead of a reduction), or alginate to make a sphere (instead of pea juice), this does not define a new style in cooking.

Although Adrian, Blumenthal , Garnier and Keller now despise the term Molecular Gastronomy, they are the ones that have established it and and used it in the beginning to describe their cooking style. Heck... Blumenthal uses it to describe his style in the intro of his Perfection series... They dropped it after it became more fashionable and more people were using it.

I have eaten the Fat Duck and at Sketch, some things I liked, some things I did not. I have not visited El Bulli, but people who have, advised me to eat something solid before hand, because they were very dissatisfied with everything being in a jelly state.

I have been following the blog Ideas In Food (http://ideasinfood.typepad.com/) and I am very impressed with their use of modern techniques, I would really like to eat in thei restaurant.

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tall food and coulis are still "Nouvelle Cuisine" even though it hasn't been Nouvelle for 30 years now. Mondrian and Pollock are still modernist painters even though their work is far from modern now. Accept the fact that labels will be misappropriated.


PS: I am a guy.

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Apropos to this discussion, Time Out has Mystery Science Eater, in which "TONY examines the original mass-market uses of some of molecular gastronomy’s latest tricks."

For example:

Sodium alginate or pectin and calcium

Now: spherification

Then: pimentos for stuffed olives

Methylcellulose

Now: foams, hot foams

Then: pie filling, sexual lubricants, laxitives

Transglutaminase

Now: meat noodles, blocks of fish, frankensteak

Then: crab sticks, chicken nuggets

Vacuums

Now: fanch sous-vide applications such as rare short ribs, spring eggs, vacuum-infusions, etc.

Then: enhanced shipping, preservation and processing properties

Peristaltic pumps

Now: Johnny Iuzzini's rhubarb noodles

Then: open heart surgery, moving harmful industrial liquids


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Whether or not "Molecular Gastronomy" is a good name for something is a different topic from whether or not that thing exists.

I'd agree that it's not the most accurate or meaningful title. But there's no question in my mind that it refers to something that's separate from other styles or traditions in cooking.

What sets the style apart seems pretty simple. Historically, virtually all cooking evolved through trial and error and through the gradual building upon existing traditions. Food science has been with us for a while, but it's had a narrow range of applications: theoretical ones (answering questions about why cooking works) and industrial ones (solving practical problems related to food processing and manufacturing).

Molecular gastronomy started when chefs who had studied the food science saw in it opportunities to try things that were completely new ... to take principles learned in the laboratory and use them make radical departures from existing cooking traditions.

I think the biggest problem with the term isn't that it's imprecise, or reduntant, or annoying--but rather that it's going to get dated very quickly. We've already moved into the era when people practicing the techniques aren't just experimenters and inventors, but cooks who are learning by example and from books. Just like they've learned every other culinary tradition. Past this point, it will become increasingly unclear which techniques are molecular with a capital M, and which ones are merely molecular in the sense that cooking has always been.


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