Aaron Lapin received a patent in 1955 for what may have been the first mainline aerosol food product — whipped cream dessert topping in a spray can — as food technology began its march toward the modern era of molecular gastronomy.
Top-rate chefs aspiring to a Michelin star or two, dinner-party throwers struggling with their soufflés or first-time cooks boiling an egg may find molecular gastronomy (MG) the answer to their prayers. Apparently, MG is not food science by a grander name. It is the science of cooking as practised at home or in restaurants. In more impressive terminology, molecular gastronomists define their discipline as the application of scientific principles to the understanding and improvement of small-scale food preparation.
The term molecular gastronomy was coined in 1988 by the late Nicholas Kurti, a renowned low temperature physicist from Oxford University, and Hervé This, probably the only person in the world with a PhD in molecular gastronomy. Kurti became interested in applying his scientific knowledge in the kitchen after he retired, and together with This, organised the first MG workshop attended by chefs, scientists and food writers in Erice, Sicily. Now held bi-annually, the next one will be in 2004.
Molecular gastronomists believe that cooking would improve if cooks understood more about the processes involved, abandoned the misconceptions of the past and embraced improvements based on rational models.
Molecular gastronomists can also use their chemical expertise to modify the taste and texture of dishes. Or what about revamping kitchen equipment? Chemists might not realise it, but apparently labs are full of potentially useful hardware for cooks.
Visit Chemistry World to read more about Molecular Gastronomy.
Excerpted with permission, www.rsc.org/chemistryworld.