What is in the name khymos?
The name of this site, khymos (gr. χυμός), is Greek meaning “juice”. It is however related to al-kimiya, the Arabic word from which our word chemistry derives from. Other related words include Khemia, the old name of Egypt (meaning land of black earth) and the Greek khein and khymatos meaning “to pour” and “that which is poured out” respectively. So in a sense, the word khymos provides a link between chemistry and food! I therefore thought it would be a suitable name for a site dealing with molecular gastronomy and related subjects.
What is molecular gastronomy after all?
Harold McGee used to define molecular gastronomy as “The scientific study of deliciousness”. Check out the Definitions, History and Examples pages for more information. Also check out the different collections of links and the books about molecular gastronomy.
Who am I?
My name is Martin Lersch, I live in Norway and have a PhD in organometallic chemistry. I have been studying platinum complexes which perhaps one day will be used to convert natural gas to value added products such as methanol. My involvement with molecular gastronomy has been a spare time activity besides my research. Currently I’m working as a research scientist in a privately owned industrial company.
When I first became interested in the connection between food and chemistry in the late 90’s, I searched the Internet without finding much information. I did however find some very interesting books in the faculty library, including Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking – The Science and Lore of the Kitchen”. In the last couple of years a large number of books have appeared about molecular gastronomy and related subjects. Having found books about the subject, I soon started to give popular science presentations. In 2004 I was invited to attend the “International Workshop on Molecular Gastronomy” in Erice, Sicily. This was a great experience and I enjoyed meeting many of the scientists, writers and chefs involved with molcular gastronomy. The material found on this page originally started of as a collection of books and links related to my popular science lectures. After I left the University of Oslo, the page was moved to it’s present location at khymos.org. I believe the collected information is of interest to anyone interested in molecular gastronomy and the science of food and cooking. In many ways the pages represent what I whould liked to find at the time I became interested in the subject.
What is my motivation?
Part of my motivation for giving popular science lectures and also setting up this site, is the popular notion that chemistry is dangerous. This picture of a soda can I bought in London a couple of years ago exemplifies this:
The producers of this soda can of ginger ale state that they have avoided “obscure and weird chemicals”. What they forget is that food is chemistry!
A part from that, being a scientist, I’m very curious. And since I enjoy cooking and eating, this naturally led me to ask many questions in the kitchen. Why didn’t that recipe work? Do I really have to mix the ingredients in the given order? What happens if I heat this a little more? Luckily, being a chemist, I could also answer some of questions. A number of great books have appeared and I have no doubt learned a lot from them.
Have you made any strange observations in your kitchen? Or do you know about other books or weblinks on molecular gastronomy, kitchen chemistry or everyday chemistry that should be added to the site? Feedback is welcome to webmaster at khymos dot org. You can also use the contact form.