Molecular gastronomy, or experimental cuisine, is a true intersection between the sciences and art; it stimulates the senses, invokes emotional response and satisfies our appetites. Molecular gastronomy involves chemistry, psychology, physics, visual arts, biology, culinary science, and sensory science. The most exciting aspect of molecular gastronomy is that there is no destination; modernist cuisine will continue to evolve and morph into areas that only imagination can behold.
Our research is interested in providing insights into the basic structure-function relationship of lipids, proteins, and polysaccharides in complex systems. The emphasis focuses on the physical attributes of food studying novel ingredient technologies, odd flavor pairing, novel food processing and hands on dish development. Ingredient technology we emphasize is hydrocolloid chemistry focusing of the physical structure of sphereification (lecithin gels), hot set gels (methyl cellulose), applications of Agar-agar, carrageenan, gelatin and xanthan. Food processing is sub-divided into sections focusing on each primary macronutrient as well as water. Lipid processing may be used to illustrate lamination in croissants and tempering in chocolate. Protein processing focused on the effects of time-temperature combinations for hard and soft-boiled eggs and well as novel methods in cooking meat. Carbohydrate processing utilized glasses, camarlization and the malliard reactions. As well, airs, whips, foams and carbonization will focus on stability as well as novel delivery agents for aromas. Freezing will focus on “liquid-nitrogen cooking” which is becoming a popular method in producing new dishes. Finally, how to use flavor wheels to create new and strange flavor pairing will conclude the course material.
Everyone seems to know how to hard-boil an
egg as soon as you are old enough to boil water you can make this dish! What seems like an extremely simple
task is much more complicated. For
example, over heat or cook too long and your egg begins to turn green, if you
under cook the egg it is too runny?
What if you want to reverse hard boil the egg (yolk is gelled but the
white is a liquid)? Experimental cuisine answers all of these questions and more.
Image from: http://www.moleculargastronomynetwork.com
Our most recent work in the field of Molecular Gastronmeny will appear in the next issue of the International Journal of Gastronmeny and Food Science. Here is a copy of the abstract.
Gelation speed is directly proportional to the concentration of calcium. Although the kinetics of gelation are altered by the source of calcium, the final alginate gel strength nor the resistance to calcium diffusion are altered. Calcium chloride reaches a gel strength plateau fastest (~100 seconds), followed by calcium lactate (~500 seconds) and calcium gluconoate (~ 2000 seconds). Calcium chloride is the best option when the bitter taste can be masked and a fast throughput is required, while calcium gluconoate may have an advantage when the membrane thickness/hardness needs to be manipulated.
The International Journal of Gastronmeny and Food Science is the priemere journal in the area of molecular gastronmeny. Here is a link to the journal page.