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Molecular GAStronomy: Glamourising industrial gases
[ 14 May 2009, Katie Hill, gasworld.com ]
gasworld explores a growing trend, which has seen restaurant kitchens the world over turned into science labs. Michelinstar-ridden chefs continue to up their game, trying to create the best tasting, most aesthetically pleasing dish; in recent years this has prompted the introduction of a most unusual ingredient to the restaurant kitchen, gas. Until recently, the only gas present in a kitchen would be that which burns with a blue flame and heats the base of a saucepan. For many years however, chefs like HestonBlumenthal and Ferran Adrià have been quietly experimenting with industrial gases like carbon dioxide and liquid nitrogen in their kitchens, and media coverage of late has catapulted them into the spotlight, bringing molecular gastronomy to the forefront of the culinary scene. The term ‘Molecular and Physical Gastronomy’ was coined by France’s most famous Physical Chemist, Herve This, and HungarianPhysicist, Nicholas Kurti, in 1988; 10 years later, This shortened it to simply, ‘Molecular Gastronomy.’ The name refers to the study of processes that occur in cooking, both physical and chemical. This spoke exclusively to gasworld about the term, he said, “On the 16th March 1980 I was doing a Roquefort cheese soufflé and the recipe said to add the egg yolks two by two. I decided it was an oldwives tale, and added all my yolks at the same time – the soufflé was poor. The next time I did the soufflé I came across the same sentence, and decided I would add the yolks one by one – it was better. The next day, I repeated the experiment with the two by two method, opened a notebook, and decided I would collect and test culinary old wives tales.” The soufflé was the beginning of a culinaryrevolution; This’ many books and writings on the subject discuss ingredients as though they were chemical mixtures – clustered compounds reacting together when their environment is changed. By conducting experiments, often using gases to change the chemical properties of an ingredient, he has been able to either dispel or confirm culinary precisions - the old wives tales, tips and sayings, andprovide practical tips for everyday cooking. In addition to the practical tips, there has also been some other fascinating, but rather useless outcomes – how to uncook an egg for example, or produce one cubic metre of whipped egg white from one egg. “Funny results can be obtained when you put gooseberries in a siphon with carbon dioxide cartridges,” he tells gasworld. “The gas dissolves in the waterthat composes the fruits, so that when you eat the fruits, they are sparkling, just as sparkling water.” It is these weird and wonderful results that have inspired chefs to experiment with their food; boundaries have been blurred and deep rooted rules, disregarded; why should something that looks like a frozen pea, taste like a frozen pea? A blob of sweet, green-coloured puree dipped into liquidnitrogen might look exactly the same, but it certainly won’t taste the same, and it will have a liquid centre. It is this confusion of the senses that chefs of the 21st century have thrived upon; it has prompted them to embark on their own experiments, with the end product often being served up in a top restaurant, to a customer who has waited months for a table.
© Miv Photography
Atelier's'pot brownies' with congnac pearls made using liquid nitrogen.
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Molecular GAStronomy: Glamourising industrial gases - Gasworld Industrial Gas News
One such restaurant is Atelier in Ontario, Canada, where chef and owner Marc Lepine runs a successful tasting menu. “The attraction to this particular style of cooking is the new...