Posts Tagged ‘discussion’

Molecular gastronomy mailing list

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

It’s a while since the mailing list that was set up at [link to] went down due to a server failure. This list was set up after the Erice meeting in 2004, but there was not much activity there the last couple of months. However, at the EuroFoodChem conference in Paris several people asked about the list. So now Jack Lang has set up a new list. To subscribe, simply send an email to molecular-gastronomy-subscribe_(a) (replacing _(a)_ with @).


Blumenthal: “Molecular gastronomy is dead”

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

As a follow up to last weeks statement from Adria, Blumenthal, Keller and McGee (article, my comments) The Guardian have interviewed Heston Blumenthal. He now says that MG creates artifical boundries: “Molecular makes it sound complicated,” he says. “And gastronomy makes it sound elitist.”. And Heston isn’t keen on either (at least not anymore…).

According to Hervé This, there’s still some 25.000 cooking instructions left to test! And when it comes to the understanding of how the sense of smell works, we’ve just got started. So sorry Heston, I think it’s a bit early to dismiss molecular gastronomy already now.

Adria, Blumenthal, Keller and McGee with statement on “new cooking”

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

On Sunday, November 10 2006, in The Guardian, Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller and Harold McGee shared a statment on the “new cooking” with the readers. They feel “widely misunderstood” and argue that molecular gastronomy is “overemphasized and sensationalized”. Quite a surprising statement from people who have benefited greatly from the increased attention that molecular gastronomy has received lately. On the other hand – many journalists still tend to be stuck up with Heston Blumenthals snail porridge and egg & bacon ice cream, so I can agree that molecular gastronomy is not always properly understood. The four main points in their statement (with my comments) are:

  • Three basic principles guide our cooking: excellence, openness, and integrity.
  • Our cooking values tradition, builds on it, and along with tradition is part of the ongoing evolution of our craft.
  • Well certainly no one can disagree with the first statement… As for tradition – of course cooking has evolved a lot over the last couple thousand years – so again I would say that this is quite obvious. What molecular gastronomy (in my opinion) is about is, from a scientific viewpoint, to increase the understanding of what is going on. Tradition tells us nothing about this whereas science has told us a lot!

  • We embrace innovation – new ingredients, techniques, appliances, information, and ideas – whenever it can make a real contribution to our cooking.
  • I guess this is where molecular gastronomy (or the-science-previously-known-as-molecular-gastronomy as ABK&M might call it) comes in. I note that they only embrace it though if it “can make a real contribution” to their cooking. In other words, they embrace they technological aspects of molecular gastronomy which according to Hervé This’ latest definition isn’t really a part of molecular gastronomy.

  • We believe that cooking can affect people in profound ways, and that a spirit of collaboration and sharing is essential to true progress in developing this potential.
  • Again – nothing really new here… except that one could always wish for even more sharing and openness regarding techniques and ingredients. But all in all ABK&M have been good at publishing their recipes and findings (as should be evident from the books listed at Of course this also alludes to the intellectual property debate which was started of by this article.

    So what do we make of this? First thing is that none of them are scientists (save McGee who holds a BSc in physics and who BTW has defined molecular gastronomy as “the scientific study of deliciousness”). In a way it’s understandable that they don’t want to be viewed upon as scientists but rather artists. But it is a little strange though, because the article does have a negative stance on molecular gastronomy. This is surprising from a group of people who have both benefited from and contributed to molecular gastronomy by adding an artistic component to the underlying science. Secondly I wonder if it’s about fashion as well. Perhaps the air is going out of the balloon now? If molecular gastronomy is not í¼bercool anymore, it’s time to move on with something new to attract guests. But is it really time to “reject the cult of molecular gastronomy” (Vanessa Thorpe of The Guardian, in the article “Mad scientist? No, I’m just seroious about food”)? If you ask me, my answer is “No”!

    Molecular gastronomy misunderstood?

    Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

    Approximately a month ago Harold McGee suggested that the term “molecular gastronomy” should be ditched. Now Ferran Adrií  who has been visiting San Francisco claims that his cooking is often incorrectly labeled molecular gastronomy. More on this from

    Adrií  says what’s come out of his experimentation has often been misunderstood and incorrectly labeled molecular gastronomy or molecular cooking.
    “Come on,” he said, throwing his hands into the air. “It doesn’t mean anything. People think Ferran Adrií  and they think chemist. ”

    Harold McGee fills in:

    “What he’s doing doesn’t start or end with science,” McGee said in an interview. “It’s just one of the many tools he uses.” He takes natural ingredients and transforms them into something interesting.

    I guess Ferran Adrií  wants his cooking to be not only molecular gastronomy (or science if you like), but a lot more than that, namely art. Perhaps this can be traced back to an artificial boundry between the “hard” and “soft” sciences? At this point I think it’s important to take a look at some definitions of molecular gastronomy. Thorvald Pedersen has definied it in a way that overcomes this boundry. According to him, molecular gastronomy is “The art and science of choosing, preparing and eating good food”. This definition captures the important point that there is an interplay between art and science.

    Since Ferran Adrií  goes on using many techniques which are familiar for chemists and other scientists, but still quite unusual in the everyday kitchen, I see no reason not to label his cooking molecular gastronomy. One could say that when molecular gastronomy misses the artistic dimension, it is perhaps more of academic interest. (But those who are comfortable with science know that it has a beauty of it’s own!)

    Is the term “molecular gastronomy” obsolete?

    Monday, October 2nd, 2006

    According to Emma Marris at The Sceptical Chymist, Harold McGee, author of my favorite book “On Food and Cooking” has suggested that the term “molecular gastronomy” should be ditched.

    He noted that most chefs labeled as molecular gastronomists rejected the label and say that their experiments rarely take place on the molecular level. […] These chefs aren’t looking into molecules, says McGee, “they are cooking with ingredients. They are artists, not chemists.”