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Q: A history of Molecular Gastronomy ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: A history of Molecular Gastronomy
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Restaurants and City Guides
Asked by: feast-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 06 Oct 2005 14:28 PDT
Expires: 05 Nov 2005 13:28 PST
Question ID: 577311
What is the history and relevance of Molecular Gastronomy in the
context of the modern restaurant trade?
Subject: Re: A history of Molecular Gastronomy
Answered By: wonko-ga on 06 Oct 2005 19:17 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
"The term molecular gastronomy was coined in the 1980s by a French
scientist, Hervé This, and Nicholas Kurti, who was a professor of
physics at Oxford University in England. Both men were interested in
food science, but they felt that empirical knowledge and tradition
were as important in cooking as rational understanding."

Molecular gastronomy has manifested itself in the modern restaurant
trade in three ways.  First, it has led to a better understanding of
why traditional approaches to cooking work (or do not).  For example,
science has led to an improved understanding of how to make a perfect
soufflé.  Second, it has led to novel pairings of foods, such as white
chocolate and caviar.  The Fat Duck has used the discovery of unusual
combinations of ingredients to earn three Michelin stars, one of only
two British restaurants that have received this honor.  Third, it has
led to novel methods of food preparation.  "As a result of this
crossover between science and cooking, outstanding restaurants around
the world are serving unusual dishes such as tobacco-flavored ice
cream made with liquid nitrogen and sardines on sorbet toast. Utensils
such as blowtorches, pH meters, and refractometers, which were
previously relegated to science laboratories, are now creeping into
the kitchen."

"Food: his passion, his science" By Émilie Boyer King, Christian
Science Monitor (February 18, 2004)

Among the novel methods of food preparation that have been discovered
at manifested themselves in hypercuisine.  An especially popular
technique is sous vide, which consists of Cryovacking ingredients
under vacuum in plastic bags and then cooking them for many hours in
warm water at modest temperatures.  Cryovacking is more commonly used
for perishable deli items to package cheeses and meats, both at
processing plants and at store level.  Restaurants such as Dry Creek
Kitchen have embraced this technique extensively to create meals with
unusual textures and tastes.

"While the enthusiasm for hypercuisine is new, the methods developed
by Goussault and Pralus are not. Vacuum-packing has been used by food
companies while pasteurizing foods since at least the 1960s, but the
temperatures initially employed were very high. Starting in the
mid-1970s, Goussault and Pralus, working with the Cryovac division of
the W. R. Grace Company, explored ways to cook "under vacuum" at lower
temperatures. Goussault discovered that low temperatures were
sufficient to cook foods so that they could be safely eaten. At first,
the technique was used on an industrial scale by hotel chains,
airlines, and railways; but it has gradually been adopted by younger
chefs like Adria and Voltaggio (although it should be noted that the
latter cook also prepares other dishes by more traditional means).

Sous vide is only one of the techniques seized upon by the
practitioners of hypercuisine. Everywhere, chefs are consciously
altering the chemical structures of proteins, starches, and fats to
produce hitherto untasted flavors and textures. They are
flash-freezing sauces, emulsifying weird combinations of oils and
juices, and beating vegetable broths into airy froths."

"Technology and Hypercuisine" By Jason Pontin, Technology Review
(October 2005)

An extensive listing of molecular gastronomy resources is available at
"Molecular Astronomy Resources" a Ia cuisine (November 20, 2004)

Additional articles you may enjoy:

"MOLECULAR GASTRONOMY" Michael Quinion, World Wide Words (2005)

"Molecular gastronomy and the science of cooking" by Martin Lersch
(August 2, 2005)

"Molecular Gastronomy in the UK" by Peter Barham (August 2004)

Search terms: Molecular gastronomy; cryovac low temperature cooking

Request for Answer Clarification by feast-ga on 07 Oct 2005 08:26 PDT
very nice answer. I would like to better understand the relevance to
modern cooking - how it is viewed by people like Alice Waters or


Clarification of Answer by wonko-ga on 07 Oct 2005 10:30 PDT
The Technology Review article describes it as being a revolt against
Alice Waters and traditional approaches:

"The practitioners of hypercuisine represent a kind of insurgency
against the ideals of good food that have dominated restaurants for
the past 25 years. Those ideals, first championed by Alice Waters at
Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, emphasized the use of fresh, seasonal
foods that were simply but perfectly prepared.

"But chefs and diners got bored," Voltaggio argues. "Now that people
can buy restaurant-quality grills and ovens, anyone can braise veal
cheeks. I want people to ask, 'How did he do that?'"


feast-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars

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