Food + Science

updated 11.15.2012

Welcome!  This page was born because I attended some inspiring lectures about food and science, and feel compelled to keep track of the things I’ve learned.  I’ll continue to update as I come across interesting bits of information.

Food + Science + Me

I wouldn’t describe myself as a hardcore foodie.  I will eat a medium rare rack of lamb and Wendy’s fries dipped in chocolate frosty with the same amount of gusto (not all together).  I’m not particularly precise when I cook or even, dare I say, bake.  And creating complicated things to eat is not something I especially aspire to do, though it can sometimes be a fun challenge if I’m in the mood.  I do think food is inherently visually engaging if not beautiful, and tasty in most forms.  I appreciate well-made food, its ability to nourish, warm and bring enjoyment to people, and I want to learn how to make it.  I also find working with my hands satisfying.

Neither am I a hardcore scientist.  I like science an awful lot and get excited about it, but I’m no whiz.  I do easily get excited and curious about things though, and I like knowing why I do the things I do.

Why the Science of Food?

I enjoy making food, but often can’t help but feel that I’m merely imitating things that I see;  I want to have a sense of ownership over the food I make.  Growing up, I saw my mother cook almost every night, often branching off from traditional Cantonese cuisine, being creative.  I guess I want to be the same way!  I’ve done adventurous-feeling things like add sour cream to cake (only after much googling for advice from others), toasting pecans for a cookie that did not call for toasting pecans, and adding both shallots and extra garlic to a sauce…but I want more.  I realize that cooking involves multiple factors – vision, creativity, willingness to try new things, a reasonably discerning palate – but I think understanding the science of cooking can help as well.  And it’s interesting!  The opportunity came when my dear hobbit of a cousin informed me one day, of a FREE lecture series about food and science (I’m all about free). I’ve always  – well, ever since I realized that I would one day be responsible for feeding and keeping myself and possibly others alive – been curious about what makes good cooking, well, good.  And at an even more basic level, how do you know what ingredients go together and how to make them come together?  What would happen if one actually understood this?  Freedom from cookbooks!  Limitless possibilities!  Innovation!  And most importantly, tastier food!  …Maybe?  Anyway, the opportunity presented itself to satisfy some of my curiosity.  There was also free cake at the end of the first lecture.  I didn’t know that going in, but it certainly confirmed my suspicion that this whole lecture series business was a very good idea..

Notes

– coming some day –

Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter
2012 Public Chef Lecture Series
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

11/5:  The Science of Cake  (Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery)
11/12:  The Science of Good Cooking (Jack Bishop, Editorial Director at Cook’s Illustrated and an Editor on The Science of Good Cooking;  Dan Souza, Associate Editor of Cook’s Illustrated)

3 responses to “Food + Science

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