Posts Tagged ‘Hervé This’

Book review: Ideas in food – Great recipes and why they work

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Readers well aquianted with the food blogosphere will likely be familiar with Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot’s blog Ideas in food. Since December 2004 they have generously shared pictures, ideas, insights and inspirations online. As chefs they have eagerly integrated modernist techniques and elements in their cooking, allowing technology to improve their cooking whenever possible. No wonder I’ve been a long time follower of their blog! And needless to say I was also exicted to receive a review copy of their recent book Ideas in food: Great recipes and why they work.

First and foremost the book is a great collection of ideas explored by the authors. The ideas are exemplified through recipes (about 100 in total) which showcase the creativity of the authors, from the simple (more…)

London Gastronomy Seminars

Thursday, November 12th, 2009


In New York the Experimental Cuisine Collective has been arranging regular seminars since 2007, in Paris Hervé This’ monthly seminar has been running for many years – and now finally the London Gastronomy Seminars are about to launch. To their upcoming event on November 30th they have invited Hervé This, Tony Conigliaro and John Forbes to speak about on Flavor extraction. You might remember that I’ve blogged about the wonders of extraction here previously (focusing on water, ethanol, oil and more specifically on espresso and walnut liqueur) – it’s a really fascinating topic and I wish I could take part in the seminar! If you’re in London or live nearby I would strongly recommend you to visit the seminar 🙂

(Too many?) New books

Friday, September 11th, 2009


Last year’s book bonanza (Remember The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, Alinea and Under pressure right? Not to mention BakeWise, The Flavor Bible (not science, but I love their systematic approach), Cooking – The Quintessential Art, A day at el Bulli, the bilingual Sous-Vide, the German Verwegen Kochen and the Danish Molekylí¦r gastronomi – did I miss any?) will be difficult to beat, but several interesting books will appear this fall as well. It’s as if this field is exploding with books now. When I first set up the webpages which later evolved into Khymos only a handful of books were available (you can travel back in time and view the single page from 2003 – only in Norwegian, sorry), but even I have a hard time now keeping track with all the books which cover the interesting intersection between cooking and science, aka molecular gastronomy. Sometimes I think – is this book really necessary? Do we need it? What does it add? But addicted as I am, I can’t help it – so I’ll probably get hold of most of these books as they become available 🙂


New Hervé This website

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009


Hervé This has launched a new website: Travaux de Hervé This. As with his two blogs it’s difficult to follow unless you speak French. But at the same time it’s hard to get around Hervé since he’s a pioneer in the field! Machine translation of the French websites is available from Babelfish and Google, but the translations still leave a lot to be desired.

Building a meal

Friday, March 13th, 2009


There’s a new book by Hervé This available in English: Building a meal – From Molecular Gastronomy to Culinary Constructivism. In the book he examines six bistro favorites — hard-boiled egg with mayonnaise, simple consommé, leg of lamb with green beans, steak with French fries, lemon meringue pie, and chocolate mousse — and discusses the chemistry of the preparation and the eating of these dishes. I haven’t seen the book yet, but it seems to be something like In search of perfection meets On food and cooking. I’ve also had troubles finding the original French title for this one. There is an excerpt chapter covering consommés available from the publisher website.

Has molecular gastronomy reached the plateau of productivity?

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Loquat fruit (known as pipa in Chinese) piled up at Mercat St. Joseph in Barcelona.

Molecular gastronomy was recently chosen as word of the month (not quite sure exactly which month this was). They give the following definition:

the art and practice of cooking food using scientific methods to create new or unusual dishes

This is not the best definition I’ve seen, to be honest. Why should one limit it to new or unusual dishes? When taken to extremes this only results in gimmickery. Strangely enough there are no hits when I search for “molecular gastronomy” at, so one might wonder whether they changed their mind? Personally I feel that molecular gastronomy should strive to improve both home cooking and restaurant cooking. That’s also what I tried to convey with my 10-part series with tips for practical molecular gastronomy.

The Webster’s New Millennium dictionary has this definition:

Hervé This is blogging

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Hervé This

I just recently discovered that Hervé This has jumped on the blogging train as well now. Admittedly I normally don’t post about new blogs popping up, but after all it’s Hervé – I think it’s worth lending him an ear or two. There are two blogs, both in French, but as you all know automatic machine translation is really great (although it sometimes produces silly and strange translations):
(Translations: Google, Babelfish)

He started off in November with the words (translation by Google):

Some ideas that I want to share …
Confusion reigns: molecular cuisine, molecular gastronomy, science, technology, art, crafts, art …
Could we just evaporate the fog hanging over our intellectual world?

Let’s hope the machine translations won’t add more fog to the discussions 😉
(Translations: Google, Babelfish)

Presently the second blog seems more like a copy-paste from a word document (which I’ve received by email earlier). It’s also poorly formatted – tables are a mess and URL’s are not clickable. There are however some interesting pieces of information here and there – for instance listings of restaurants, suppliers, books, websites etc.

A Christmas wish list

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

The avalanche of books in the food/science intersection this fall has been truly amazing. Three books in particular have showcased special restaurants: el Bulli, Alinea and The Fat Duck.

Recent academic articles

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

There are a couple of recent academic papers that have been published the last 2 years which I haven’t mentioned in blog posts, but they really deserve attention. Here’s the list (with quotes from the abstracts):

Molecular gastronomy: a food fad or science supporting innovative cuisine? Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink (Trends Food Sci Technol 2008, 19(7), 372-382)

The concepts, history and approaches of molecular gastronomy are discussed with an emphasis on the relation to food science and technology. A distinction is made between molecular gastronomy and science-based cooking (…) We discuss how chefs are dealing with the available systematic knowledge on food and cooking, and how molecular gastronomy can facilitate the cumbersome, but much needed discussions among food scientists and chefs.

Molecular Gastronomy: A Food Fad or an Interface for Science-based Cooking? Erik van der Linden, David Julian McClements and Job Ubbink (Food Biophysics, 2008, 3(2), 246-254)

A review is given over the field of molecular gastronomy and its relation to science and cooking. We begin with a brief history of the field of molecular gastronomy, the definition of the term itself, and the current controversy surrounding this term. (…) On the one hand, it can facilitate the implementation of new ideas and recipes in restaurants. On the other hand, it challenges scientists to apply their fundamental scientific understanding to the complexities of cooking, and it challenges them to expand the scientific understanding of many chemical and physical mechanisms beyond the common mass-produced food products.

The life of an anise-flavored alcoholic beverage: Does its stability cloud or confirm theory? Elke Scholten, Erik van der Linden, Hervé This (Langmuir 2008, 24(5), 1701-1706).

The well-known alcoholic beverage Pastis becomes turbid when mixed with water due to the poor solubility of trans-anethol, the anise-flavored component of Pastis in the water solution formed. This destabilization appears as the formation of micrometer-sized droplets that only very slowly grow in size, thus expanding the life of the anise-flavored beverage. (…) experiments on Ostwald ripening show an increase in stability with increasing ethanol concentration, the results based on our interfacial tension measurements in combination with the same Ostwald ripening model show a decrease in stability with an increase in ethanol concentration.

Formal descriptions for formulation, Hervé This (Int J Pharm 2007, 344(1-2), 4-8)

Two formalisms used to describe the physical microstructure and the organization of formulated products are given. The first, called “complex disperse systems formalism” (CDS formalism) is useful for the description of the physical nature of disperse matter. The second, called “non periodical organizational space formalism” (NPOS formalism) has the same operators as the CDS formalism, but different elements; it is useful to describe the arrangement of any objects in space. Both formalisms can be viewed as the same, applied to different orders of magnitude for spatial size.

Lavoisier and meat stock Hervé This, Robert Meric, Anne Cazor (Compt Rend Chim 2006, 9(11-12), 1510-1515).

Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier published his results on meat stock’ preparations in 1783. Measuring density, he stated that food principles’ were better extracted using a large quantity of water. This result was checked.

New book by This and Gagnaire

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

In the seemingly endless series of new books related to molecular gastronomy appearing this fall I just found out that Hervé This and Pierre Gagnaire also have a book due in October: “Cooking – The Quintessential Art”. The book is part of the California Studies in Food and Culture series which features interdisciplinary texts and has been characterized as “an intellectual exercise wholly removed from food-entertainment television”. The book is divided in five parts with the following titles which give further clues to the style of the book: The Beautiful Is the Good, Classical Ideas of Beauty, Beauty in the Middle Ages, Artistic Creativity Unbound, and The Present and Future of Cooking.

The book opens with the question “How can we reasonably judge a meal?”, signifying that this is not a cook book. According to the publisher:

This explores an astonishing variety of topics and elaborates a revolutionary method for judging the art of cooking. Many of the ideas he introduces in this culinary romance are illustrated by dishes created by Pierre Gagnaire, whose engaging commentaries provide rare insights into the creative inspiration of one of the world’s foremost chefs. The result is an enthralling, sophisticated, freewheeling dinner party of a book that also makes a powerful case for openness and change in the way we think about food.