TGIF: Periodic tables of food

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Does food fit into this table?

Here at Khymos I aim to cover things related to food and chemistry, and as I stumbled over a periodic table of cupcakes (with clickable “elements” linked to recipes) I couldn’t resist to dig a little deeper. And look what I found! The periodic table of elements is iconic, but the periodic table has also become an organizing metaphor for all sorts of things, including food. The Internet database of periodic tables holds more periodic tables than you could ever dream of, but it’s not complete – at least not with regards to food. Here are the food related periodic tables that I’ve been able to find. Fun? Yes! Useful? No, not really 🙂 At the end of the post I’ve also included examples of how the real periodic table of elements can be illustrated in a more or less edible fashion. All images are linked to the page where I found them. Are you aware of other periodic tables of food? Please let me know and I’ll include them in this post.

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Source: Mantis Design. High res available here.

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Available as a poster

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In case you wondered, it’s a periodic table of breakfast cereals!

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HighRes flash version

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Condiments that periodically go bad

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Cupcakes – what else! And each “element” is linked to a recipe. Very well made!

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Period table of food from Disneyland in Los Angeles (Photo: Martin Lersch). Click for a larger image.

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Available as a poster

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Available as a poster

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Available as a poster

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Available as a poster

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HighRes version available

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Two cropped scans available from Slashfood. Original was published in “Simple Life” fall 2006.

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Available as a poster

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Available as a poster

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The menu at “Miracle of Science Bar & Grill” in Boston is a periodic table painted on the wall. More info at the C&EN blog. Photo: Scott Beale/Laughing Squid


Periodic table of preserves. Full resolution view available through this preview (browse to page 22 of the preview, book pages 48-49).

The real periodic table of elements represented in food
If you think fitting some kind of food into a periodic table is stretching a little too far, why not make an edible version of the real periodic table? In the process you may even learn the name of some elements 🙂

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Photo by melpenguin

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A nice idea for Halloween?


As the name suggests, the TGIF posts are a little less serious than what I otherwise post here at Khymos. I hope you enjoy it 🙂

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Filed under: fun with food

Comments

  1. Harlan Says:

    Hah, reminds me of Herve’ This’ academic work on building formulas for various foods. They look sorta like chemical formulas, but they describe the way various types of matter (liquids, solids) are combined and heated.

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/BJN20041352

  2. Alex Says:

    As a chemistry teacher and a moderately-talented cook, I frequently have these hanging in my classroom, but some of these are ones I’ve not seen before. Awesome!

  3. Erin Swing Says:

    Thank you for posting this. It put a big smile on my face. Who know so many different epicurean based “periodic tables”?

  4. Patti Says:

    When I bought my first home, my geeky housewarming gift to myself was the Periodic Table of Vegetables. Over 20 years and two houses later, it hangs in my kitchen. It sure has faded a lot!

  5. Bertus Says:

    Really interesting, funny Periodic Table posters. Too sophisticated for the kitchen but maybe I can buy some of these for the lab.

    Nice blog, Martin, congrats!

  6. Bill T. Says:

    I hope that the Se cupcake was full of brazil nuts — only appropriate!

  7. Xesko Chef Says:

    Hi Martin,
    I’m a reader of your site and Blog, and I’ve enjoied it several times. Very interesting 🙂

    About the table of elements, I think food doesn’t fit inside.

    But I can put down something similar for one ingredient, broccoli for example, several way to cook it.

    Can be useful to create tables with different recipes for a product and “crossing” with other similar table.

    A kind of “pivot table of excel” for food.

    I’m a Chef, Italian, I work in Russia, Siberia
    Francesco 🙂

  8. Alexander Wood Says:

    Hi Martin,
    have been reading the blog for some time, great work love this post as a distraction from the seriousness of food quality which we all need, after all if its not fun, what is the point? also thank you for the compliation of the hydrocolloid recipe collection, we use as a bit of a bible here and has kept us on the right path more than once, thanks again.

    anyway to the point of repling here, I agree with Xesko that a food table would be too difficult either that or would have to be written on a poster about the size of the African continent, however a breakdown of some key foodgroups, or indeed some cooking methods may be an interesting excercise. as for ‘crossing’, perhaps a 3D table of sorts where foods or techniques meet up.

    thanks again and keep up the great work

    Alex.

    Alex.