Posts Tagged ‘fun’

TGIF: Science stunts for Christmas parties

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Richard Wiseman has posted a lovely video with Top 10 science stunts for Christmas parties:


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Ten tips for practical molecular gastronomy, part 10

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Finally it’s time to round up my ten tips for moleceular gastronomy with the shortest of them all:

10. Have fun!

I sincerely believe that whatever you do, you do it better if you enjoy it. This isn’t a very scientific statement, but I’m sure there are bunches of scientific papers proving this, and my excuse is that I wouldn’t know where to start searching for them 😉 (perhaps anyone can help?)

If you had fun preparing the food it’s definitely going to taste better when you eat it. And if you enjoy the company of good friends it’s going to taste even better (as pointed out by Hervé This previously). In his elaboration of what molecular gastronomy is (or should be), Hervé This emphasizes that the social phenomena linked to cooking and eating are among the topics that should be studied scientifically. In the first post summing up the 10 tips I mentioned the research done at Grythyttan in Sweden which has resulted in the “Five Aspects Meal Model” which captures a little of this. And I also stated that

average food eaten together with good friends while you’re sitting on a terrace with the sun setting in the ocean will taste superior to excellent food served on plastic plates and eaten alone in a room with mess all over the place

Perhaps this is what Paul Bocuse was touching upon as well when he was interviewed by a local newspaper in Stavanger where the Bocuse d’Or Europe final recently was held. Being questioned about what his greatest culinary experiences were he answered (my translation):

– I’ve travelled a lot and been lucky to taste delicacies from many different countries, but nothing compares to simple dishes were the pot is placed in front of you on the table and where you have the opportunity to help yourself several times until the food gets cold.

Hey – I’d be happy to invite him over for dinner. He sounds like an easy guest to please 😉

One of my intentions with the “10 tips” series has been to move the focus a little bit away from what too many have come to associate with molecular gastronomy – foam, alginate spheres and cooking with liquid nitrogen to mention a few. For me it has been a great oppurtunity to research a number of topics and I’m very thankful for all the feedback from readers! And in case it sounds as if I’m going to quit blogging I can let you know that the number of drafts for future blog posts is steadily increasing… So many interesting topics, so little time … But I’ll try to finish some of them soon.


Not only do I have fun cooking – blogging is also great fun! Here’s my blog as viewed on an OLPC (shown in tablet mode) obtained through the G1G1 program. Notice the screen which in the picture shown operates in a reflective, high-resolution black and white mode that is sunlight readable!

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There is a summary of the “10 tips for practical molecular gastronomy” posts. The collection of books (favorite, molecular gastronomy, aroma/taste, reference/technique, food chemistry) and links (people/chefs/blogs, webresources, institutions, articles and audio/video) at khymos.org might also be of interest.

Scientific chocolate tasting kits

Monday, February 19th, 2007

Dominique & Cindy Duby, chocolatiers based in Canada, have put together two “scientific chocolate tasting kits” (one, two). Some of the science behind is explained in their “tasting notes” (copy the text into a wordprocessor to read it). For a review of the first kit, check out Rob and Rachel’s blogpost over at Hungry in Hogtown.

The kits illustrate the use of various hydrocolloids to produce foams, gels, dispersions, emulsions and pearls. The principle of flavor pairing is illustrated and binary taste interactions are explored. They also include experiments to explore crunchy vs. soft textures. Each kit comes with four different experiments and enough ingredients to make 8 servings. Furthermore they let you serve every experiment at two different tempereatures. This is neat because is allows you to explore the great influence temperature has on texture and aroma. Each kit sells for $125 – expensive yes, but from the presentation it seems like a good bundle.

Science tasting kit no. 1
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The following is illustrated in kit no. 1:

    Experiment 1: foaming of pectin and gelatin gels, spherification of a fruit juice/chocolate emulsion (there’s no info on this, but I guess the spherification is alginate based)
    Experiment 2: explore how temperature influences sweet and bitter tastes, make a chocolate emulsion (with cream, strawberry juice, wine, cocoa butter and oil) and serve it at two different temperatures
    Experiment 3: explore the fact that “taste” is 80% smell, illustrate how salt can suppress bitterness, use a special powder made from an aromatic liquid and maltodextrin which is then dried under vacuum with microwaves (sort of like freeze drying, only this uses microwaves in stead)
    Experiment 4: Hervé This’ double dispersion chocolate “cake” made with chocolate and egg white foam which is set in a microwave oven (described in his Angewante Chemie article on molecular gastronomy), short lived crunchy texture, flavor pairing is illustrated by combining cumin and coffe with chocolate

Science tasting kit no. 2
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Kit no. 2 starts of by exploring culinary “equations” which are remarkably similar to (yet somewhat less comprehensive than) the CDS formalism described by Hervé This elsewhere. The following is illustrated in the second kit:

    Experiment no. 1: a “whisky” is constructed from ethanol lignin, aromatic aldehydes, sugars, acetic acid, oak flavor, vanilin, malt etc.
    Experiment no. 2: ice cream is made without churning using foamed egg whites to incorporate air (is this what Italians refer to as a frozen parfait?)
    Experiment no. 4: meringues floating on a pool of custard sauce drizzled with caramel

If you’d rather reverse engineer the dishes, my list of hydrocolloid suppliers might come handy. The “tasting notes” also gives you some hints if you want to have a go on your own.