archive for May of 2007
Molecular gastronomy has had a gee-whiz amount of press attention over the last few years, though the idea of formally applying science or chemistry in the kitchen has been around since the 18th century. The term itself was coined by chemist Hervé This and physicist Nicholas Kurti around 1992.
When I first heard of it, I thought, well, this is a fad--people are figuring out that kitchens are really specialized laboratories and recipes are experimental procedures to be repeated. Of course it's chemistry. So I didn't really pay that much attention.
Then I saw Rufus Cartwright's photo diary about a meal at L'Enclume, a Michelin rated restaurant in a little village north of London. The photos and descriptions are amazing, and showed how far the molecular gastronomy movement has come, and how it will make a permanent mark on modern cuisine as well as fine art and design.
L'Enclume's meatball with tzatziki foam
Molecular gastonomy is a movement, complete with manifestos and offshoots. See the "statement on new cookery" by Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller, and writer Harold McGee. These chefs downplay the sensationalization that cooking with nitrogen and lab equipment has created, pointing out that cuisine should really be about making things taste better, and making people happier.
Homaro Cantu, chef at Moto in Chicago, uses inkjet printing on edible paper with food-based inks as well as lasers and other high-tech cooking techniques. There are lots of great photos and descriptions in this article at CNet.
Edible menu from Moto
Chef Simon Rogan at L'Enclume embraces taking food in an overtly futuristic direction, many steps removed from traditional meals. Based on Wainwright's description, it sounds like he is succeeding.
"The penultimate pudding was definitely the technical summit of the meal. It was called "Stiffy Tacky Pudding". Each blob had to be eaten in sequence from left to right, chewing as we went, and not swallowing until they were all in. They were each a different component from sticky toffee pudding, some solid, some liquid, encased in a transparent gel, so they could be picked up by hand. This was flabbergastingly futuristic, like something from 2001 (the movie, not the year)."
Sticky Tacky Pudding at L'Enclume
More pics at Rufus Cartwright's L'Enclume flickr set.
Coming at this from another angle, food has always been a source of inspiration, exploration, and materials in fine art. Consider Dali's obsession with bread, Mark Ryden and meat, and more recently, Cavallaro's chocolate Jesus.
Beyond simply using food as a reference in art, or designing pretty food, molecular gastronomy is helping integrate food, science, and design into something new. The confluence is creating innovations in design as well as changing how we eat.
This morning I came upon a site I'm adding to my all-time favorites: food for design. "Food for design wants to be an open source for design, food and science cross-over." The site brings it all together: molecular gastronomy, materials design, data, science, art, nature... it's very inspiring.
More to explore:
food for design
molecular gastronomy cheat sheet
food at wd-50, new york
Inspiration for a Saturday! (via BoingBoing)
It's Towel Day this Friday, May 25.
R.I.P. Douglas Adams
I'm going to have surgery on my foot next week. I'll be immobilized for two weeks and then in a hard cast for two months. I wanted to get one last good, long ride on my bicycle before the surgery. Most cyclists around here would have headed to the Burke Gillman trail, ridden out to Alki, or circled futilely around Greenlake. Not me. While those other trails were swarming with peds and other cyclists, my route was all but deserted. I feel like I know a really good secret and I probably shouldn't share it, but I will. The secret is this: You can get from downtown Seattle to Federal Way almost entirely on trails or bicycle safe roads. I don’t know, maybe I was just the last person to find out.
Riding south of Seattle
I just discovered this blog, Indexed, by Jessica Hagy. It's all charts and graphs about life on index cards.
She has a book coming out February 2008.
Another in my favorite Japanese comedy series.