I come from an extremely foody family.
I’ve always explained it to people as follows: “you know that place in their hearts where fundamentalist religious people keep their god? That’s where my parents keep food’.
So yes. And I now find myself living in a particularly foody city (Wellington has, apparently, the highest number of eateries per capita in the world), and with a flatmate who is also, well, you get the point*. And it’s Wellington on a plate at the moment. Sigh.
Food’s something of a passion, in other words. Also, interestingly, it’s a pretty sciencey thing: understanding the complex interactions between the ingredients and flavours can make the difference between a bad and glorious meal, or a comfortable (and creative) and nervous, disastrous cook. I’ve experienced both of the latter over the years.
So with that in mind, I have decided to share books/papers to do with the science of cooking
First up! Cooking for Geeks is proudly brought to us by the guys at Maker Shed. It will teach those interested how to calibrate their tools, the chemical reactions they need to understand, how to (properly) play with their food, and also share knowledge from those more, um, knowledgeable. Including the xkcd guy
Secondly – ta da! I’m not sure if it’s the world’s most expensive cookery book, but it’s certainly not the cheapest. Coming in at a cool $500 (US) and six volumes totalling 2,400 pages, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking is due to be released later this year. In addition to enlightening us about the underlying principles of cooking, it also, apparently, has very, very pretty pictures. Which is always a happy thought. I’m considering seeing if a few friends want to club together with me to buy it. And then perv over it.
Finally, not so much a book as a paper. I came across it earlier this year, and thought ‘Ooh! My mum would love this this, so I should blog it!’. This was before I realised that it’s 53 pages long, and goes into a great deal of detail on the subject of molecular gastronomy, on which a brief note.
A sublime mixture of the scientific and the tasty, the field looks at the science behind food, its preparation, and our interaction therewith. I’m certain there have been programmes about it on the food channel – sometimes looking very test-tubey, but hey – and I think I remember strangely coloured smoke in one. Nonetheless, despite its early treatment as something of a science sideshow, it appears to have been gaining in credibility, and usage, over the last few years.
So much so, in fact, that two of the world’s top restaurants, El Bulli (Spain) and The Fat Duck (UK) adhere to its principles. And I hear local restaurant Martin Bosley’s also likes to play in that particular sandpit.***
Anyhoo, said paper, entitled Molecular Gastronomy: A New Emerging Scientific Discipline, is available in its entirety, and a big thumbs up to Chemical Reviews for publishing it.
Postscript: I intend to start blogging about actual research again shortly. But first I need to write about Semi-Permanent, which was absolutely wonderful
* Srsly. We throw huge dinner parties at least weekly, and the food, my god, the food! And wine. Ahem.
** A tome if ever I saw one. And I have. Running wild through the forests at night…Oh, wait. Never mind.
*** And has a very fine degustation menu, according to friends who were recently there. They also sell an awesome spice mix, called ‘vadouvan’. Buy! Consume! Roll around in!