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Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection


tony h
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I read in the paper this morning that he includes a cystitis treatment in the recipe for his perfect burger.

That's just taking the piss.... :biggrin:

I

Jonathan Ross mentioned last night as well, showed a a picture of the finished product on the screen too, looked good.

He went on to make a joke about Ritalin Ravioli...

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Any thoughts on the first programme of the new series?

Not that I'm a great fan of chicken tikka masla I thought the triangle of stacked bricks surrounded by BBQ charcoal to create a tandoor oven was inspired…

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I think it was, yet again, the best piece of food-tv on our screens.

Just waiting for my spice grinder to come before I try it - the othe recepies i've tried have worked brilliantly.

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I thought it was very well done. A major production with lots of information. If there was a fault its that there was so much information packed into it that many explanations were too brief. For example why did he add roasted cashew butter to the sauce?

Nice to see Prof Laurie Hall showing NMR scans of exactly what happens when you marinate chicken,

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Very quickly got bored with the first series, this one looks much better.

need to see how he cooked the nan breads, looks like a couple of quarry tiles in the oven, good improvisation with the tandoor, now on the list after the woodburning pizza oven

you don't win friends with salad

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I thought this was so much better than the last series - you can actually take a number of the techniques that he used to make the Tikka and apply to other recipes, something that I felt was lacking in the last series, I mean, where else other than the gateau am I likely to use a hoover on my food?! In fact, I think the tikka recipe should be achievable by most competent cooks. It was also very interesting to see the benefit of adding yoghurt to the marinade.

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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Very quickly got bored with the first series, this one looks much better.

need to see how he cooked the nan breads, looks like a couple of quarry tiles in the oven, good improvisation with the tandoor, now on the list after the woodburning pizza oven

I liked that, too. It made me wish I had a large enough oven to do something like that.

Does anyone know what kind of stand mixer Blumenthal is using? I like the way it looks, plus it has a tilt-head, which I prefer.

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I find the whole monomania thing to be an annoying ruse. I mean why the MRI? Surely, if there is any improvement, one can distinguish it by simply eating the stuff, and if one can't, then it's hard to see how it can be an improvement.

It seems that HB's approach to cooking doesn't justify the end, but is an end in itself. It's as if eating the end product is irrelevant if you can sufficiently convolute the process.

In series 1, he spends days trying to create a sausage that tastes like it's been cooked on a bonfire, which raises the question, "Why not cook it on a bonfire?". I mean, FFS!

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Gary, not sure if you have seen this, but there is a 3 minute explanation of how to make the naan on the bbc link upthread.

Is there anywhere I can actually watch the whole episode online? Or is that also on the bbc link, and I'm just being dense?

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I find the whole monomania thing to be an annoying ruse. I mean why the MRI? Surely, if there is any improvement, one can distinguish it by simply eating the stuff, and if one can't, then it's hard to see how it can be an improvement.

It seems that HB's approach to cooking doesn't justify the end, but is an end in itself. It's as if eating the end product is irrelevant if you can sufficiently convolute the process.

Can't agree with you there. If you put aside the Top Gear Challenge stylings of the show, there remains at its core the admirable idea that anything not proven objectively could well be wrong. This, I thought, is the conceit on which Heston has built his reputation.

Many seem to agree with you that by taking things to comically complex levels, the testing becomes an end in itself. To me, this view ignores the subjectivity of taste (another key Heston conceit). From a scientific standpoint, you will never find out if some fundamental process works if your findings are being altered, informed and distorted by everything from memory to misinformation. Hence the MRI.

Ok, so some of the experiments are more about theatre than science. But it's still a welcome change from every other TV chef, still searing meat "to seal in the flavour" and adding lemon "to cut through the sweetness".

Until Harold McGee gets given his own major prime-time documentary series, this will have to do.

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I mean why the MRI? Surely, if there is any improvement, one can distinguish it by simply eating the stuff, and if one can't, then it's hard to see how it can be an improvement.

... there remains at its core the admirable idea that anything not proven objectively could well be wrong.

... this view ignores the subjectivity of taste (another key Heston conceit). From a scientific standpoint, you will never find out if some fundamental process works if your findings are being altered, informed and distorted by everything from memory to misinformation. Hence the MRI.

I don't disagree, but I think HB's method is in itself an a priori distortion of the taste experience. It seems designed to soften up the punters. I mean, if one buys HB's approach prior to sampling his food, then one believes that what one is about to sample is going to be 'perfect'. It's something like the placebo effect.

I don't think this matters very much in itself. He's certainly not the only chef to big up his proffer. But it does undermine his scientific aim since by being explicit about his method, his method distorts the subjective experience. If he was really serious about being objective, he would keep his methodology to himself. The fact that everyone knows about it is simply not very scientific in this particular context. In order to make claims regarding the success of his method, the end results should be subjected to extensive double-blind testing. It's not enough, at least scientifically, to assert success.

As a marketing tool, molecular gastronomy was a stroke of genius, but HB hasn't come anywhere near to providing objective evidence that his method works.

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If he was really serious about being objective, he would keep his methodology to himself.

Interesting idea. You should pitch that to Channel 5. Perhaps call it "The Clandestine Chef", or "In Search of Dissimulation". I'd be interested to see the tie-in recipe book.

I think you may be confusing cooking with TV. The experiments are not really experiments. They're just handy ways to demonstrate the bits of science that underpin what's going on. Rule 1 of telly: show, don't tell.

Likewise the whole "perfection" concept. It's an excuse, not some holy grail. It's just a convenient justifification for our protagonist's Heinz Wolff antics. After 12 pages of discussion, I thought that this point at least had been accepted.

In order to make claims regarding the success of his method, the end results should be subjected to extensive double-blind testing.

I'd be surprised if some BBC Tristam did not pitch exactly this idea during the brainstorm. A money-shot-reliant gameshow format would have been ideal if the only motive was to entertain the proles and mouth breathers. Yet somehow, they emerged out of the bullshit room with a format capable of informing as well as entertaining. Probably through luck rather than design, they ended up with the only cooking show in two decades where the journey is more important than the arrival.

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In order to make claims regarding the success of his method, the end results should be subjected to extensive double-blind testing.

I'd be surprised if some BBC Tristam did not pitch exactly this idea during the brainstorm. A money-shot-reliant gameshow format would have been ideal if the only motive was to entertain the proles and mouth breathers. Yet somehow, they emerged out of the bullshit room with a format capable of informing as well as entertaining. Probably through luck rather than design, they ended up with the only cooking show in two decades where the journey is more important than the arrival.

Well of course I'm sure all forum members here are fans of Takeaway Challenge which uses a sort of debased blind taste-off to see whether Ainsley or Rick can cook jerk chicken and peas or fish and chips better than some take away in Merthyr Tydfil.

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No way was that burger "two fingers" thick by the time they'd finished with it- two hands would have been closer.

Quite an interesting show I thought, but why go to that immense time and trouble grinding your own burger meat and laying it out a particular way as it comes through the machine; spending 3 months (3 'ucking months!!!) finding a suitable bun recipe and creating home made cheese slices and tomato sauce, only to use crappy jarred mayo, squeezy mustard and iceberg lettuce with no explanation why. It undermines the whole process in my view.

If you're going to ask viewers to suspend disbelief for 30 minutes and go with the idea that, for example, a tv crew really needs to spend licence fee money on traveling to New York in order to cook a burger then you've at least got to maintain the internal logic for the duration of the programme.

If you're going to go to Holland to discover if Heston's bites of a burger are the same size each time (as Heston's mouth stays the same size throughout the eating process I reckon there's a bloody good chance that he might) then you've really got to explain why you've ended up with a gigantic burger when you we're aiming for a much slimmer one. Maybe the programme makers should watch a couple of episodes of Mythbusters to see how well popular science can be done.

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It undermines the whole process in my view.

The only process at work is the process of making a television show that makes vague sense and comes in under budget. There were a couple of things on the Chicken Tikka Masala show that I felt the same about, I'm guessing it'll be a recurring feature of the show.

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