Molecular Gastronomy: Why It's Still Fascinating
Many people are intrigued by molecular cuisine, what it is, how it works, and why it's so fascinating. We frequently receive messages from pseudo-experts telling us that "it's passé," "it isn't entertaining," "it's chemistry," etc. While there are many fine restaurants on the planet's top lists for the best restaurants that don't use molecular gastronomy techniques, the ones that do are certainly interesting, entertaining, and worth exploring if you have the opportunity.
Molecular cuisine is a distinct branch of food science, known as trophology. Trophology focuses on physical and chemical processes that occur while preparing meals in order to cook each product in the best and most creative way possible. Molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of trophology that specifically looks at how physical and chemical processes can be used to improve the taste, texture, and appearance of food.
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Where did Science In the Kitchen Begin?
People have been experimenting with science in the kitchen since ancient times in order to achieve the outcomes they desire, but the cooking process was not viewed from a scientific standpoint. Hervé Tys, a Parisian gastronomic physicist, began his physicochemical trials on food in the 1980s. He experimented with various food additives, procedures, and equipment in order to find new ways of preparing and cooking food.
Tys' contemporary, Nicholas Kurti, was a Hungarian-British physicist who also worked with Hervé This. In 1988, Kurti and Tys co-founded the International Academy of Gastronomy (IAG), which is now known as the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST). Kurtis work in the kitchen focused on using technology to improve the quality of food and make it more consistent.
Kurti and Tys' experiments led them to some interesting conclusions about how physical and chemical processes can be used to alter the taste, texture, and appearance of food. They found that by changing the temperature, pressure, and/or time of cooking, they could achieve different results. For example, they found that meat cooked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time was more tender than meat cooked at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time.
In the early 2000s, molecular cuisine began to gain popularity in the United States. In 2001, Ferran Adrià, the head chef of elBulli, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain, was named the Best Chef in the World by Restaurant magazine. Adrià is credited with popularizing molecular cuisine and bringing it to the mainstream.
Adrià's dishes were often compared to works of art, and he was featured in many magazines and television shows. In 2006, he published a cookbook called A Day at elBulli, which detailed the restaurant's menus and recipes.
Molecular cuisine is now widely used in restaurants around the world. Many chefs have adopted molecular gastronomy techniques to create unique and innovative dishes. If you're interested in trying molecular cuisine, there are many cookbooks and online resources available. You can also find restaurants that specialize in molecular cuisine in major cities around the world.
A Few Cooking Techniques for a More Satisfying Meal
Let's take a look at the most frequent techniques in molecular gastronomy to better understand them:
1) The use of gelling, emulsifying, foaming and other food additives (agar, gellan gum, soy lecithin, sodium alginate and calcium lactate) to give any liquid or non-liquid dish its jellylike texture is known as texturization. Simply said, to transform a well-known tactile sensation (for example, the one felt when touching a runny liquid) into something entirely different (like feeling a jelly-like solid), or to improve an already existent texture by modifying it and/or making it more pleasurable.
2) Refrigeration is a method of preserving food by rapidly freezing it with liquid nitrogen. For example, to prevent the formation of huge ice crystals, frozen ice cream is frozen with liquid nitrogen. Cold snacks and desserts are also cooked in an antifreeze pan, which freezes the product at -32 degrees Celsius.
3) Sous Vide is a major step forward in cuisine in the 21st century. After being vacuum packed, the air is removed and added to a bath of water at temperatures ranging from 30° C to 95° C to cook for an extended period at a precise temperature that does not vary by more than 2°C. Su kind is now already employed in the kitchens of some of the most Michelin starred chefs in the world.
4) Cremers (siphons) are used to foam any liquid containing nitrous oxide (N2O) or to make delicate cream, mousses, and foams from almost any ingredient. One of the most basic and entertaining kitchen gadgets available today.
5) The process of making a completely uniform mass, such as ice cream, is known as homogenization. Pacogenizers, ultrasonic homogenizers or thermomixers are examples of different types of homogenerators.
6) The procedure of extracting fragrances and odors from liquids, pastes, and other materials is known as distillation. Rotary distillers, ultrasonic homogenizers, and centrifuges are all utilized in the process. Then chefs and bartenders develop unique cocktails, sauces, and other meals by combining ingredients. This article discusses the use of different types of distillates in the kitchen.
7) Lyophilization (freeze drying) is the process of drying fruits, berries, and vegetables in a vacuum at low temperatures. For products to keep their color, flavor, and fragrance, they must be frozen with a special machine. Perfect snacks, desserts, and soups are possible with this equipment.
8) The process of cold smoking foods and beverages to give them a "smoky" taste, as demonstrated by chefs and bartenders. Portable smokers are used for this purpose by chefs and bartenders.