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The Father of Molecular Gastronomy Whips Up a New Formula 144

Posted by Zonk
from the delicious-science dept.
An anonymous reader writes "French chemist and cook Hervé This maintains his quest to find the scientific precision behind great tasting food. Chef This is just one of a growing number of cooks that approaches food from a scientific perspective; making recipes in a lab instead of in the kitchen. The difference is that This was one of the pioneers of the field. 'This and a colleague, the late Oxford physicist Nicholas Kurti, conducted the experiments in their spare time. In 1988, the pair coined a term to describe their nascent field: molecular gastronomy. The name has since been applied to the kitchen wizardry of chefs like el Bulli's Ferran Adria and Alinea's Grant Achatz. But This is interested in basic culinary knowledge -- not flashy preparations -- and has continued to accumulate his precisions, which now number some 25,000.'"
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The Father of Molecular Gastronomy Whips Up a New Formula

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  • by utenaslashed (882318) on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:51AM (#20127895)
    Every reply has "Reply to This"... and 'This et al.' could be abbreviated as 'These'..endless fun..pun?
    • by CptPicard (680154)
      Just imagine the amount of mail the poor guy is getting when apparently all replies on slashdot go to him!
      • This ambiguity comes from this This (and all Thises). These Thises should know better than to be named for a demonstrative pronoun [usingenglish.com] like "this".

        This is another example of misnominy, the practice of naming people in really unfortunate ways. Movie stars started this trend by naming their kids after fruit and physical abstractions ("Apple", "River", "Moon", etc.) Now it's spreading to scientists and cooks.

        Someone, please stop the insanity! For the children!

  • More on This (Score:5, Informative)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@gd[ ]aud.net ['arg' in gap]> on Monday August 06, 2007 @04:15AM (#20127995) Homepage
    He has a monthly page in the french edition of Scientific American (Pour La Science [pourlascience.com]) and several books out: He's also a nice guy and I've exchanged cooking tips with him by email !
  • by simong (32944) on Monday August 06, 2007 @04:27AM (#20128023) Homepage
    And his restaurant [fatduck.co.uk]. He has become notorious for his creations such as smoked bacon flavoured ice cream and snail porridge (which is actually supposed to be a snail risotto made with oats). He also says that Molecular gastronomy is dead [guardian.co.uk], so who do we believe?
    • by edittard (805475)

      He also says that Molecular gastronomy is dead, so who do we believe?
      Certainly not the grauniad. What does netcraft say?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by otie (915090)
      As the article you linked says, Blumenthal just said the term "molecular gastronomy" is confusing and elitist. He doesn't mean the actual field where scientific precision is used to examine cooking is dead.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by uohcicds (472888)
      Blumenthal's restaurant (complete with a research kitchen) The Fat Duck in Bray was named the Worlds' Best Restaurant in 2005 by "Restaurant" magazine (see http://www.theworlds50best.com/ [theworlds50best.com]). It also came second in 2004, 2006 and 2007. I always enjoyed the columns he wrote for the Guardian (he now writes for the Sunday Times), which I found fun, interesting and not pompous at all, unusually for the food industry. He's recently done some TV in the UK in a series called "In Search of Perfection", where he trie
    • by julesh (229690) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:10AM (#20128341)
      One thing I've tried and loved is Blumenthal's ideas for low temperature cooking [wikipedia.org]. There's something about a joint of beef, roast for 10 hours at 55 degrees, that is hard to imagine until you've tried it...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sjwaste (780063)
        If anyone's interested in this and is in the DC area, you can taste it affordably. Central Michel Richard, I think on 12th and Pennsylvania, has short ribs on the menu cooked sous vide. And it'll only set you back like $25. I had 'em, definitely the best thing on the menu.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jfengel (409917)
          Also, chef Jose Andres at Cafe Atlantico among others. One of my favorites: his "magic mojito", consisting of a ball of mojito-flavored cotton candy and a wad of "lime air", which is an intensely-flavored foam with a consistency of soap bubbles. (It's got to be some sort of edible emulsifier and lime oil.)

          Next week I'm going to his Minibar, basically a 30-course showoff of molecular gastronomy (and a lot more than $25, I'm afraid. It's a birthday present to a foodie friend of mine and a once-in-a-lifetim
          • by sjwaste (780063)
            I hear minibar is great. Gotta reserve months out for it, too. I'm hoping I get to go sometime this year.

            I had to cancel a reservation at Cafe Atlantico for this past Sat, but I'll try the mojito next time I'm there. Thanks for the tip!
            • by jfengel (409917)
              Minibar takes reservations exactly 1 month in advance. So basically you pick a date, and call one month before at 9 AM. They usually fill up by 9:05. And no cancellations.

              I've watched the minibar from the tables at Cafe Atlantico, and this should be fantastic.

              BTW: at Cafe Atlantico, the pre-dinner prix fixe meal is an excellent bargain. I also highly recommend Jaleo, just around the corner. It's tapas, and the menu is continually changing; I never order the same thing twice (even though it's all fantastic
              • by sjwaste (780063)
                Thanks for the tip on reserving. I'll have to figure out when I can go, then try and reserve it :)

                I've been to Jaleo (in Bethesda, though), and I completely agree. There are a couple things we tend to order as standard and then a few plates of whatever's new or seasonal. Never a bad meal there. Might have to do that pre-theatre menu at Atlantico then too.
      • by Otter (3800)
        There's something about a joint of beef, roast for 10 hours at 55 degrees, that is hard to imagine until you've tried it...

        I puzzled over how cold your home must be if you can cook at 55 degrees (and my wife always complains because I keep the thermostat at 60!) before realizing you meant 55 C!

        Here in Fahrenheit Land, we call cooking like that "barbecue" and it's long familiar to even the lowliest hillbilly. But as you say, it's hard to imagine how good it is until you've tried it.

        • by sjwaste (780063) on Monday August 06, 2007 @10:23AM (#20129679)
          Barbecue is very similar, but the method I think we're talking about is sous vide. Basically, the meat is sealed up in a vacuum bag and cooked at even a lower temp than bbq generally is done, usually at the "done" temperature of whatever it is you're cooking. So for a medium rare piece of beef, you put the pouch in 130 degree water for sometimes days until its done.

          Barbecue uses slightly higher temperatures and smoke as its dry heat source. Also, the meat is not sealed up with its juices. So you get something similar (and delicious), but not quite the same. If you ever come across it, give it a shot.
          • by Otter (3800)
            Ah, I see -- thanks! I read an article about sous vide in the Amtrak magazine (I think it featured the place you mentioned in your other post) on a long, slow ride from Boston to DC with nothing to eat but Amtrak hot dogs and frozen pizzas. I'd have rushed off to the restaurant immediately upon arrival if the train hadn't come in at 1 am.
          • Sous Vide (Score:2, Informative)

            by edsel (73916)
            Amanda Hesser did a NYT piece [nytimes.com] on Sous Vide cooking a while back. Pretty good overview of the technique along with some history.
          • by packeteer (566398)
            Just don't forget to sear the meat to lock in the juices!

            *ducks*
      • by edittard (805475)

        There's something about a joint of beef, roast for 10 hours
        Sounds nice, but I hope the starters come in generous portions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ChrisMaple (607946)
        As you are a good scientist, by 55 degrees I realize you mean 55 degrees Kelvin.
        • by The Mayor (6048)
          As you are also a good scientist, I'm assuming that when you say "55 degrees Kelvin", you mean "55 Kelvin", as there are no degrees with Kelvin.
  • by DrogMan (708650) on Monday August 06, 2007 @04:36AM (#20128053) Homepage

    There was a (UK) TV program on recently with a bloke who specialises in puddings (Sweet Baby James or something it's called and he makes the most fantastic easy to make puddings!!!) and he challenged a scientific chef and Mrs Farmhouse cook to bake a Victoria sponge cake... The boffin at HQ went to great lengths about how important it was to measure the ingredients and combine them in such a way and timed the cooking to the second... Mrs. Farmhouse woman just put in some of this and enough of that and beat it up with a hand whisk until it looked OK then baked it "until it's done".

    Then they took the cakes to the cake buyer/tester in Harrods. Guess which one tasted and looked the best? The Mrs. Farmhouse one, of-course!

    There's also a series on right now hosted by some scientific cook bod - it's quite entertaining, (especially when he deep fried a whole chicken in the last series - left it in a second too long and it caught fire) but I can't help thinking his name ought to be a "new millenium" substitute for "Gordon Bennett"... It's "Heston Blumenthal".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by transiit (33489)
      you're getting bogged down in the sensationalism.

      An understanding of some of the chemical or molecular interactions in your food can be handy knowledge. It'll keep you away from the old Swedish Lemon Angel [everything2.com] debacle at least.

      My limited experience with food scientists suggests that they rarely think about measuring things to infinite precision, but rather think about the underlying systems. More of a hacker mentality.
    • by julesh (229690)
      It's worth noting the Blumenthal runs a restaurant considered by many to be one of the best in the world.

      Just saying...
    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:24AM (#20128405) Journal
      Cooking, molecular or otherwise, is not about getting the recipe right to the nth decimal. As someone wrote in another post, you'll always have variations in products, temperatures, cooking ware etc. Completing a recipe to perfection has a lot to do with reacting to feedback: knowing your ingredients, smells, texture, taste. Mrs. Farmhouse got it right with her "looks ok" approach; the "scientific chef" was being a silly. If you ignore the feedback and just watch the egg timer, it won't come out as good.

      Cooking science is about understanding what happens to food when we prepare it. It won't give us a runbook to achieve that perfect flavour, but it will help us to understand the process so that we get better at managing it.
      • by spun (1352)
        The lady must have made a lot of sponge cakes to get it right without a recipe. Baking is far harder to get right than cooking, and sponge cakes can be very tricky. In baking, a difference of 1/4 teaspoon in some ingredients, or 10 degrees, or for puff pastry, the humidity, can totally change a recipe.

        Cooking science isn't just about what happens to food when we prepare it. Food scientists know that different people react to different flavors differently. Some people can't even taste certain flavors.
        • by Reziac (43301) *
          I don't know about sponge cakes, but I make regular cakes by the "some of this, a handful of that" method, and to add insult to injury I bake them in the microwave. And I'm not much of a cook, I just have a good eye for proportions, and enough of a feel for how the raw product should look, feel, and taste to get it right. About this sweet, about that thick, about so much.

          (For a really strange cake, forget to add the eggs. The texture is just weird, sortof like liquid sand.)

  • I don't see what's very new about this story.

    Come on, this is Slashdot. Half of the people here live off food that was flavor-engineered in a lab and vacu-formed into some sort of food-like eXtreme cheese thing.
    • by RuBLed (995686)
      yummy pizza...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pla (258480)
      Come on, this is Slashdot. Half of the people here live off food that was flavor-engineered in a lab and vacu-formed into some sort of food-like eXtreme cheese thing.

      I highly recommend the book "Twinky, Deconstructed" to elaborate on your point. Informative, and despite the subject matter, makes for a light, enjoyable read.

      I've always cared about what I eat and could identify at least the basic purpose of most items on an ingredient label ("Sugar, sugar, an emollient, another sugar, preservative, etc"
    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... m ['hoo' in gap]> on Monday August 06, 2007 @10:35AM (#20129827) Journal
      Okay, I have a theory that a certain number of geeks love to cook and are really very good at it. I've been cooking since I was eight and I can make almost anything without looking at a recipe. I may be wrong, but I imagine some very good cooks post here.

      One resource I can't recommend highly enough is Cook's Illustrated magazine, put out by the folks who do the PBS show, America's Test Kitchen. It has no advertisements, just in depth recipes and reviews you can trust. In each recipe, the highlight common problems and the solutions they've found through experimentation. They also tell about the failures and why they failed, and the science behind what went right and wrong.
      • by Convector (897502)
        Naturally, I never have mod points when I actually want to use them. I'm with you on the Cook's Illustrated. They also have a series of cookbooks under "The Best Recipe" title, which I find quite handy, and which I'm sure you're aware of if you get the magazine.
  • harold mcgee (Score:3, Informative)

    by romit_icarus (613431) on Monday August 06, 2007 @04:46AM (#20128083) Journal
    One of the best books to offer the basics of the 'science' of cooking is Harold Mcgee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. http://www.amazon.com/Food-Cooking-Science-Lore-Ki tchen/dp/0684800012/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-1551306-21 10061?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186389795&sr=8-1 [amazon.com]
    • For the Germans among us I can recommend the books of Thomas Vilgis [mpip-mainz.mpg.de]. It doesn't cover the total range of food science and food history as McGee does, but does a nice job bringing the main physical principles of food technology.

      As for the people that confuse this 'molecular gastronomy' with 'Engineered food' and preprocessed food, you miss the point. It is about taking the normal ingredients, you could even get it from the organic food store if you want, but trying to understand what the background-cause i

  • Science and cookery (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 19061969 (939279) on Monday August 06, 2007 @04:47AM (#20128085)
    This article reminds me of a course that used to be run at Bristol University called, "The physics of a Black Forest gateau" by Peter Barham. By all accounts, it was tremendously popular and always fully booked, so much so that other culinary treats were dealt with in the same manner (http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2005/874.html)
  • I'm afraid of what happens if he decides to kick it up a notch.

    BAM!
  • lab vs home made. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Monday August 06, 2007 @05:33AM (#20128227)
    There very good reasons that home made always tastes better then anything manufactured in a lab, and it's nothing to do with love or "vibe" or any of that hippy crap.

    one reason, is that at home we have the ability to adapt to variations in the raw product, which you will get no matter how hard you try to control in a lab.

    the other, is that the taste and smell receptors in our mouth are many factors more sensitive then lab equipment, meaning cooking "till it's done" is just a laymans way of saying a good cooks sense of smell is a much better indication of when food is ready then any lab insturment.

    so while the IDEA that food can be scientifically expressed is correct, we are a LONG way from being able compete with those old nanna's down the road who make that awesome apple pie.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by DecPascal (539598)
      Do not missunderstand This. His purpose is knowledge of what append while cooking, not the way or where it is done.
      One of his first discovery was the yellow part of an egg is cooked at 68C and white part at 63C. It seems nobody ever wonder about it!
      The direct application of this knowledge is to make "perfect" boiled eggs. Simply put eggs in an oven at 65C. (You can do it at home, like I did ;-) )
      Other example: He discovered that quicker an ice cream was frozen, smaller were cristals in it, and smaller crita
      • by TheLink (130905)
        Nobody wondered about the eggs? I don't think he was the first to discover it.

        After all even Jules Verne mentioned it a long time ago: http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/v/verne/jules /v52oc/chapter7.html

        quote: Instead of 100 degrees, the instrument registered only 66 degrees. "Take my advice, Ben Zoof," he said; "leave your eggs in the saucepan a good quarter of an hour."

        "Boil them hard! That will never do," objected the orderly.

        "You will not find them hard, my good fellow. Trust me, we shall be able to
    • Another factor is that commercially produced food is made to be more easily transportable and to last longer, and is not as fresh when it gets to a person. It is also often made in ways that improve efficiency at the cost of taste.
  • And you really think the following are made or formulated in Granny's kitchen and not by chemists in some industrial-sized 'lab':

    Cola & other soft drinks
    Yoghurt
    Cheese in spray cans
    Extruded corn snacks
    Fast food burgers
    etc.

    • And you really think the following are made or formulated in Granny's kitchen and not by chemists in some industrial-sized 'lab':

      well, let's see.

      Cola & other soft drinks

      Well, Cola was originaly created by a chemist/pharmacist type of person, and nowadays that pretty much equates to industrial lab.

      Yoghurt

      Well, maybe you are fooled by the ultra expensive left-turning specially formulated guaranteed to extend your life by 10 year or 5 minutes (whichever is less). I however eat regular yoghurt. As has been made for thousands of years. Sure, the mass production probably occurs in controlled, sterile conditions. But not much industrial lab in there.

      Cheese in spray cans

      Well, if you want

      • Speaking as one who lives in the middle of the country and buys all their produce at local farm shops, I think you are taking my post too seriously.
        • Speaking as one who gets sick of people complaining how hard it is to eat healthy food when all they have to do is stop with the candy and start with the carrots... well yes you're absolutely right.

          btw I'm not kidding. Here in the netherlands I've heard people complain about how hard it is to eat healthy and even the consumer union said that supermarkets weren't doing enough to label healthy foods! My god, look it's an apple! what's that in the sky, is a brocoli? is it a brussel sprout? No its supper fo
          • by chefbb (691732)

            and even the consumer union said that supermarkets weren't doing enough to label healthy foods!
            My theory is that the fewer the labels, the healthier the food. The peach I'm eating has one tiny sticker on it. The granola bar my coworker is eating is covered with labels. I rest my case. :)
          • A good few years ago I travelled from the UK to the USA and worked in Cincinnati for two weeks. After a few days of hotel food and restaurants I fancied a break so I asked someone where I was working if there was somewhere local (ie: walking distance) I could buy some fresh fruit - they thought for a while and could only come up with a supermarket several miles outside town.

            Hopefully things have changed!?
            • by cduffy (652)
              I can't speak for Cincinnati, but to my knowledge most US cities in areas with any local agricultural community have farmers markets at least weekly; Austin, San Jose and Chico (roughly my last three places of residence) have all had these, and farming co-ops are not by any means unheard of (my mother is a member of one in her hometown near Seattle, where she assists with gardening in exchange for a reduced price on the food they grow). Whole Foods and its ilk also have significant penetration within the US
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Monday August 06, 2007 @05:55AM (#20128299)
    I must say that working (and playing) with computers all of my life, I thoroughly enjoy cooking as a welcome diversion from the world of silicon into the world of the organic.

    My general rules for cooking are as follows:

    1. The wok is my best friend - in it I can do anything from simple stir fries to complex curries & other Asian dishes.

    2. Stir, stir and stir some more.

    3. Despite being a techie and part time programmer where accuracy and preparation are paramount, I NEVER obey a recipe. Cooking is always about tasting and making things up as you go along, I cannot stand the formality around eating - serve it up with a nice wine or two to friends and just get on with enjoying it.

    4. Unless you do something really silly, or try to make a recipe that's far too complex, it's impossible to mess things up. Again, it's all about making it up as you go along with a rough knowledge of what herbs go with what meats or fish.

    Any other programming cooks reading this?

    • by timmarhy (659436)
      i cook - a lot. and i program a lot. in fact i grow my own herbs and brew my own beers, purely for taste. as far as most herbs go fresh (real fresh, not 2 week old supermarket "fresh") is the best.
    • Though I would agree that a wok is a very useful tool, I'd have to disagree with your last two points.
      You should follow a recipe the first time around, but more importantly than that, you should compare as many different recipes for a given item as you can get your hands on to see which are the most basic, most fundamental, and accurate. You can therefore toss out the ones that won't work. There are a lot of broken recipes around.
      Second, you most certainly CAN screw up. A lot of people do. I've been cooking
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TheJasper (1031512)
      Actually I know a lot of cooking nerds. In fact, Andrew Tanenbaum has even written a cookbook called 'How to prepare your input'.

      My rules are:

      1. Taste it. Taste it raw, taste it cooking and taste it done. Taste herbs, spices, meat, fish, oil, vinegar. basically everything. Am I being clear on this?

      2. Nothing makes up for good ingredients and good materials. I generally don't like aluminum pans because the thermal properties suck.

      3. Because of being a programmer where accuracy and preparation are
      • 2. Nothing makes up for good ingredients and good materials. I generally don't like aluminum pans because the thermal properties suck.

        Copper rules!

        3. Because of being a programmer where accuracy and preparation are paramount, I NEVER obey a recipe. You see, recipes don't take into account local variations. Thus they are only guidelines. Following a recipe to the letter is often a prelude to disaster. anyway most recipes aren't even that exact. A pinch of salt. Medium heat.

        I like the advice of an earlier

        • Copper rules!

          Cast Iron FTW!

          • How about diamond plated pans? Diamond has very good thermal conductivity and if done right the surface will have a low coefficient of friction.

            And how about an oven that can behave like a "thermos flask" instead of heating your kitchen[1]. Set the temperature you want, it should get there quick and stays there.

            I'm sure we can use heat pipe and phase change technology somewhere. :)

            [1] More efficient to use a heat pump for heating your kitchen. Dump the heat from the thermos oven slowly after you are done wi
            • Such a device exists, and has done for a very long time. What you need is a hay box. [google.co.uk]

              Diamond plated pans seem like a terrible idea, they may have high conductivity, but it would still have to go through the metal centre and then the diamonds as well, so why bother with the diamond? unless the pan was made of solid diamond.

              Secondly, heat conduction is not the key, what you need is a high heat capacity, so that your heat stays nice and constant, and doesn't fluctuate if you lift the it off the heat to

      • by chefbb (691732)

        1. Taste it. Taste it raw, taste it cooking and taste it done. Taste herbs, spices, meat, fish, oil, vinegar. basically everything. Am I being clear on this?
        Crystal. :) You will NEVER be a really good cook until you can identify what good food tastes, smells, looks, sounds and feels like. Try as many dishes as possible.
      • Number 2 is wrong. Aluminum has fantastic thermal properties for baking cakes and delicate confections. Its use on the stovetop is undesirable because it is such a direct conductor. Aluminum is useful in a wider array of circumstances than cast iron or glass, so it makes little sense to demonize it.

        As for number 3, a "pinch" actually is a technical amount (generally equal to 1/16 t or 1/4 to 1/2 of a gram depending on the ingredient--the precision to which you obey those measures is a personal preference
    • I've cooked even longer than I've worked with computers, and the latter started at around age 9 or 10. I love science and am a huge fan of physics and chemistry from a semi layman (I majored in chem briefly and worked some in the industry) standpoint. I'm a huge geek in many areas. I also loathe this approach to cooking. To me cooking is an art, and the subtle vagaries (which often bring to mind Chaos theory and it's ilk) are one of the most beautiful things about it.

      I think we're as likely to break dow
    • by Kantana (185308)
      I'd consider my self a programming cook - allthough my cooking is only a hobby.

      My approach is a bit different than yours, seemingly - I'd say get some good recipes, and obey them.

      Why? Obeying recipes is generally an efficient way of avoiding poor results. Sure, lots of stuff is easy to make, but say you want to make Creme Brulee, or thick 'n chewy chocolate chip cookies or a nice italian risotto? Unless you're careful, the creme brulee will turn grainy, your cookies won't be chewy and the risotto will be so
      • by flewp (458359)
        The problem with following recipes exactly though is that they don't take into account the variations that can occur in the kitchen. Temperature, humidity, subtle differences in ingredients, etc. This is why they should be used as a guideline, and why it's smart to know the whys and hows of cooking. If you know why something happens, or how to make it happen, you will be a far better cook than if you just follow a recipe. Also, experimenting with recipes will give you a greater understanding of cooking
    • by jrjarrett (949308)
      3. Despite being a techie and part time programmer where accuracy and preparation are paramount, I NEVER obey a recipe. Cooking is always about tasting and making things up as you go along, I cannot stand the formality around eating - serve it up with a nice wine or two to friends and just get on with enjoying it.

      Ugh. I, too, am a techie geek and I find when I deviate even the slightest from a recipe, I create something that you could use as an adhesive to hold the tiles on the Space Shuttle.
      • 3. Despite being a techie and part time programmer where accuracy and preparation are paramount, I NEVER obey a recipe. Cooking is always about tasting and making things up as you go along, I cannot stand the formality around eating - serve it up with a nice wine or two to friends and just get on with enjoying it.

        Ugh. I, too, am a techie geek and I find when I deviate even the slightest from a recipe, I create something that you could use as an adhesive to hold the tiles on the Space Shuttle.

        I actually

    • by raddan (519638)
      Of course. My favorite dishes are usually more along the French lines-- they are often weirdly counterintuitive.

      But my favorite subjects for food preparation are beer and bread. Yeast is such an amazing and versatile organism. Think-- beer and bread are quite similar: the basic ingredients for beer are grain (usually barley, but also wheat), water, yeast, and hops. Bread is grain (usually wheat), water, yeast, and salt. But they are so different! With beer, you utilize the alcohol-producing phase o
    • by decken (883938)
      I work as a line cook in a French restaurant, and the owners (being utterly against all things precise and formulaic) won't let us make a recipe book of sauces and dressings, instead insisting we always make everything to taste. It probably saves time if we don't have to reference anything and don't have to measure ingredients out, and it's really easy to scale the amounts if you know what you're doing. I don't think they'd approve of molecular gastronomy...
    • by jetpack (22743)

      I NEVER obey a recipe.

      I'm guessing you don't do much baking.


    • Cooking is an art...

      Baking is a science...

      Cooking you work with it as you go until you get what you want....

      Baking you follow the instructions EXACTLY or you don't get what you want....
  • by gosand (234100) on Monday August 06, 2007 @10:29AM (#20129739)
    One of the best cooking books I own (note: it isn't just a cookbook) is Cookwise by Shirley O. Corriher. You Good Eats fans would recognize her as the portly grey-haired lady that has appeared on some episodes. This book is absolutely fantastic, and describes the WHYs of cooking. It also has some great recipes. Ever wonder what makes cookies chewy, crispy, puffy, or flat? It shows a great chart in that section that shows "more of this" leads to "more of that". e.g. if you want to make your cookies chewy, use more brown sugar and bread flour.


    I think that the right tools help immensely with cooking. Get 3 very good knives, and keep them sharp. I would recommend Wusthof: 8" chefs knife, paring knife, and a bread knife. Get 3-4 plastic cutting boards of decent size. That will get you started, and try to avoid all the gadgets that you see. Learn good techniques, like how to do basic chopping/dicing, and you won't need the gadgets to do it for you.


    Next, I would suggest you try some classic recipes. Use good ingredients, and learn what everything tastes like. And enjoy it!

    • by jetpack (22743)
      Another great book is The New Best Recipe [amazon.com].

      It doesn't just give recipes. It also explains the testing and experimenting that went into developing the recipes. An interesting and useful book, for sure. I've done a fair bit of cooking and baking with this book and it has never let me down.

  • Needed for those many nights playing WOW and posting on /.

    Mini robots go into your bloodstream from the "Dew" and convert raw sugars in your bloodstream to pure caffine.

  • Scientific approaches to gastronomy and other aspects of food preparation are NOT new. It just doesn't impinge on the attention of the nerd community very often.

    Basic and advanced degrees in "food science" - including biochemistry, microbiology, science of taste, safe canning (home and industrial), cooking at all scales and with special requirements (home, restaurant, bakery, hospital, large institution, military base, ...), management of kitchen crews, operations, and fincancing, design of industrial food
    • (For instance, one of the best has been the University of Washington, located in an area with one of the highest densities and species count of botulism spores.)

      Correction: That's Oregon State and the "botulism belt" is the Willamette valley.

This is now. Later is later.

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