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Anyone else fed up with "molecular gastronomy"?

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diropstim Oct 31, 2006 04:06 AM

I mean sure, if I'm in Spain I'll go to the godfather.(Because why not?). But I live in NYC and have never felt the urge to spend my money on someone else's "experiments". Hence no Dufresne, no Liebrandt.(As far as I know, that's about it for New York: Chicago and D.C. are way ahead of us [or behind us, depending how you see it] in this area). And Liebrandt is easy enough to miss-- the guy gets fired more than a Tommygun in Prohibition Chicago, even after the three-star NYT review @ Compass. My postgraduate work was in art history (hence I cook as a profession) so I am well-versed in the virtues of the avant-garde in literature, art, music blah blah blah... but when it comes to dinner I'm not at all sure that I want my meal to be smarter than me.Or think that it is.
Thoughts?

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    Kagey RE: diropstim Oct 31, 2006 09:22 AM

    Fair enough.

    I'm not even really sure what "molecular gastronomy" is, and I'm not sure I want to know. I ate at WD-50 once, and I enjoyed it. But I enjoyed it the way I enjoy something that's interesting but not necessary. It's fun to try cornbread ice cream and cucumber-flavored foam and tomato-flavored disks of gelatine. Like it's fun to eat cotton candy. It's a novelty, but I will never crave it as food, like I crave pho or meatloaf or millions of other "real" foods.

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      FlavoursGal RE: diropstim Oct 31, 2006 01:02 PM

      What you're seeing is just the beginning...

      It's going to get bigger and bigger.

      1. Infomaniac RE: diropstim Oct 31, 2006 01:14 PM

        Change is the only constant. Some people don't adapt well, and others thrive on it.

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          Steve RE: diropstim Oct 31, 2006 03:18 PM

          Ah I can see it now, Applebee's introduces their foam menu.....

          1 Reply
          1. re: Steve
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            Cinnamon RE: Steve Nov 1, 2006 04:30 AM

            Bad visuals!

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            Grubbjunkie RE: diropstim Oct 31, 2006 04:07 PM

            This kind of cooking exposes a lack of real understanding. It also challenges you to learn more. That can be fun and interesting, or uncomfortable and more than you want from a meal. The good thing is that you can choose to eat something else if you want.

            But it's inevitable that people will continue to explore food science and build on the knowledge of those that came before. There are no limits, and eventually some creations/discoveries trickle down.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Grubbjunkie
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              Cinnamon RE: Grubbjunkie Nov 1, 2006 04:31 AM

              Sigh. And I'm still amused that fresh fennel tastes like a cross between celery and licorice.

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              Flynn1 RE: diropstim Oct 31, 2006 09:15 PM

              You're kidding of course. You really believe that if you're in Spain you can just show up at El Bulli and get a table?? Getting a reservation at El Bulli, often rated as the best restaurant in the world, is not easy to put it mildly. The restaurant has limited seating and is open only 6 months out of the year and most people have to plan about 6-12 months in advance just to try to get a reservation.

              One food critic wrote an article about El Bulli's chef, Ferran Adria, and compared him to the "Salvadore Dali of cooking." So if you don't like that "experimentation" which has so many admirers, you're welcome to your opinion. However, how can you be tired of it if you've never dined there?

              4 Replies
              1. re: Flynn1
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                FlavoursGal RE: Flynn1 Oct 31, 2006 09:37 PM

                I heard Harold McGee speak at the Cuisine Canada culinary conference in Winnipeg a few weeks ago. His topic was molecular gastronomy, and he was really passionate about it. He's been to all of the "foam" restaurants, as well as restaurants here and abroad that create foods that look like something, but taste completely different from what they represent. His slide show was fascinating.

                For what it's worth, if Harold McGee is excited about molecular gastronomy, it's my bet that it will continue to grow and catch on.

                At the same conference, Dominique and Cindy Duby (of DC Duby Wild Sweets in Vancouver, B.C. - http://www.dcduby.com/ ), gave a wonderful workshop on molecular gastronomy. These chocolatiers have put their scientific and psychological knowledge to work in their chocolate production. Mind-boggling!

                1. re: Flynn1
                  Das Ubergeek RE: Flynn1 Nov 1, 2006 04:09 AM

                  I'm missing something, or maybe I missed an edit. Where did the OP -- or any of the responses -- talk about just showing up at El Bulli?

                  I *was* in Spain, I had enough time to make a reservation, and I still didn't. I don't eat foam. I don't need to be experimented on. There's such great Catalan food, from rustic food served with pa amb tomaquet to incredibly complex food like Cal Pep, that I didn't feel the need.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                    JMF RE: Das Ubergeek Nov 1, 2006 12:50 PM

                    "I mean sure, if I'm in Spain I'll go to the godfather.(Because why not?)." is a reference to Ferran Adria

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek
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                      butterfly RE: Das Ubergeek Nov 3, 2006 09:08 PM

                      The whole foam thing is a myth. When I ate there one out of 30+ dishes had an element resembling foam. For what it is worth, Ferran Adria does not associate himself with the molecular gastronomy movement or even believe that it exists...

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                    scott123 RE: diropstim Oct 31, 2006 11:27 PM

                    Molecular gastronomy isn't necessarily synonomous with the type of cooking put out by the likes of Adria, Blumenthal, Dufresne and Achatz. It can be novel/strange/experimental but it doesn't have to be. If one were to take science and create a better meatloaf, that would fall under molecular gastronomy. The customer may not even be aware of it.

                    1. cayjohan RE: diropstim Nov 1, 2006 04:19 AM

                      I might be fed up with HEARING about it, but since I have never been "foamed" I cannot say I am tired of it. But what about this: we are always expanding our knowledge of the world. So, we can play with things from time to time. If someone bankrolled a trip to Adria's table for me, I would enjoy the foam with the best of them. Still, I will dip my finger into the Thanksgiving gravy along with my daughter and savor the age-old. I will eat peanut butter on toast, but perhaps think about "that flavor" without all the guilty calories. I will envy the richest among us who can afford the esence of a food without the burps that accompany a meal of cabbage rolls and tomato gravy. Who's to say that there aren't those on the other side? Water will find its own level (sorry for the cliche) and eventually people will want to do what they have done for millennia: eat, rather than just taste. Those who have just "tasted" are not immune to the need, and we will all continue to eat. Those who taste will also inform this need. I hope. Please, futurists, no full-meal-pills in my lifetime. I like food too much.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cayjohan
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                        scott123 RE: cayjohan Nov 1, 2006 01:17 PM

                        "Still, I will dip my finger into the Thanksgiving gravy along with my daughter and savor the age-old. I will eat peanut butter on toast, but perhaps think about "that flavor" without all the guilty calories."

                        Again, neither 'age-old' Thanksgiving gravy nor peanut butter on toast are inherently molecularly ungastronomical.

                        If the members on this thread want to be anti or pro-novelty/debate the pros and cons of Adria, that's fine, but, please, don't equate novelty/Adria with MG. Novelty is a very small subset of MG. It gets a lot of press, so it's easy to equate the two, but to do so would be tremendously shortsighted.

                        MG and classical cuisine intertwine. MG and comfort food overlap. MG is as ubiquitious in the culinary universe as salt. It's everywhere- not pigeonholed into foams or white chocolate and truffles. Or restaurants requiring reservations far in advance.

                      2. applehome RE: diropstim Nov 1, 2006 04:39 AM

                        You should see Tony Bourdain's Decoding Ferran Adria. He starts out as a real skeptic - a dyed in the wool bistro chef that knows what's good and what's not - and comes to understand what MG is all about. I love that they start the journey in a Jambon Iberica shop - tasting that lovely meat. And the point is made that this ham undergoes a transformation to make it what it is. MG helps identify and define transformations chemically and physically - it isolates and controls changes, and allows chefs to understand that transformation so that they can better use it in their cooking. No wonder McGee is so hot on MG.

                        In my view, MG puts fusion, and all the so-called creative but compromising attempts at creating new dishes by combining traditional ones, to shame. Instead of blending flavors and techniques, it isolates them, and seeks to understand why something has historically worked, so that something truly new can be invented.

                        When Adria has Tony and his guests simply hold a sprig of rosemary under his nose while eating something, it looks like something out of a Dali painting. But his experimentation led to an understanding of what the effect of the aroma is on the food, and that it isn't necessary to overcome the food by having it covered in rosemary.

                        Chefs that are just using techniques developed by Adria, Blumenthal and others are no better than those that typically steal trendy menu items. That's missing the entire purpose of the experimentation that is key to MG. They are providing the masses that can't fly to Spain or England with some of the experiences - certainly there's some value to that, especially if done well. I just don't understand the scorn that others feel towards Adria and the other pioneers in MG. Of course, if I were in Spain, I'd eat other things - I'd find that ham shop for one. But I would not turn down an opportunity to eat at El Bulli, or The Fat Duck in England.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: applehome
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                          rainey RE: applehome Nov 1, 2006 10:14 PM

                          "And the point is made that this ham undergoes a transformation to make it what it is. MG helps identify and define transformations chemically and physically - it isolates and controls changes, and allows chefs to understand that transformation so that they can better use it in their cooking."

                          Well said!

                          I must say, for me it is purely academic and will probably always remain so. Still, as you say, little comes to us in its natural unadulterated form. So why reject out of hand expanding the frontiers? What's gained by shutting off inquiry and discovery? It's not as though anyone would ever be precluded from the traditional gravy of which I too am a big fan.

                          Fundamentals and experimentation. Right hands and left hands. Heads and tails. Let's have it all. ...especially before we go making decisions.

                        2. cayjohan RE: diropstim Nov 1, 2006 05:11 AM

                          applehome: I love what you have to say about McGee. He's amazing, and I appreciate snd admire his scientific approach. After seeing his passion for flavor on the PBS/Gourmet collaboration "Diary of a Foodie", I was really moved to think about the whole flavor isolation idea. (Plus I think that if Bourdain can be budged, anyone can.) Still (I hope this is not too inappropriately philosophical) can we really separate the taste from the food? the experiences of the senses from the filling of our bellies? the intellectual appreciation from the feeling of satiety and well-being? I'm curious to see how the MG approach will develop in the coming years. I don't foresee my taking part in it more than smelling my own herbs as I ready them for the pot...but that's what Adria has Bourdain doing, in essence. Maybe we are not so different after all, despite old-school and new-thought designations. If it makes for better taste and enjoyment of what we eat (in an ethical and healthy manner), it's...as my kids say..."all good."

                          1. jpschust RE: diropstim Nov 1, 2006 01:07 PM

                            Let me approach this from another vantage point. I've now dabbled in this eating at both Moto (very good) and Minibar (kind of bad). Twenty years ago it was sushi in the United States, ten or so years ago it was the organics movement, today it's molecular gastronomy. It's really nice to see chefs out there doing something unique and new with food in the restaurants these days. I mean in reality some steaks are better than others but a steak is a steak is a steak and the rest is window dressing. This is something truly unique and unseen before. I really like to see this level of innovation. I'm still on the debate as to whether it makes the food truly taste different or if most of it is theatrics, but I think it might be a combination of both. In all it's changing the landscape of dining right now and I enjoy it.

                            1. b
                              beevod RE: diropstim Nov 1, 2006 01:22 PM

                              As for "molecular, "atomic," or other forms of gastronomy, Mencken said it best: Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: beevod
                                monkeyrotica RE: beevod Nov 2, 2006 04:29 PM

                                Molecular gastronomy reminds me of that Onion headline:

                                "Concept Rock Band Theoretically Good."

                                1. re: beevod
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                                  Fleur RE: beevod Dec 11, 2006 06:51 AM

                                  Or, in the words of that great American philosopher, P.T. Barnum, "there's a sucker born every minute".

                                  I find that here in NY,in home cooking, perhaps as a reaction to all that, we are coming home to more traditional and classic dishes. American, French,Italian,and Middle European. Good comfort food. A good Tuna Noodle Casserole is the best revenge.

                                  The Emperor has no clothes.

                                2. MC Slim JB RE: diropstim Nov 1, 2006 07:39 PM

                                  I find it eminently possible that the culinary mad scientists can contribute something wonderful and delicious to the gastronomic canon. I certainly enjoyed a meal at WD-50 on its merits, and didn't find the odd bit of futuristic weirdness particularly distracting, nor did it bother me in philosophical terms.

                                  Sure, there are plenty of classic dishes that "don't need no improvin' on", but surely you've also enjoyed something in the past twenty years that employed some relatively new technique? Haven't modern refrigeration, freezing, and other food shelf-life-extension technologies immeasurably expanded the palette that pro and home cooks have to draw from?

                                  Foam isn't bad *per se*, nor anything else in the MG bag of tricks. Some chefs will use it in a good way, others to distract from their other shortcomings and/or beguile the novelty-crazed. Dismissing new cooking and serving techniques outright on the grounds of "purity" or "realness" seems oddly reactionary to me. I will continue to seek out exponents of both the tried-and-true and the bizarre-and-unfathomable. I think it's the Chowish thing to do.

                                  1. c
                                    celfie RE: diropstim Nov 1, 2006 07:56 PM

                                    what exactly is wrong with being part of an experiment? in this post-modern age of unlimited potential, we should applaud the fringes for their daring passions. Sure it becomes a little nauseating when the masses gobble up your esoteric favorites but why critique the desire to experience the familiar in unfamiliar ways? in my opinion, there's nothing more boring than a french bistro.

                                    1. d
                                      diropstim RE: diropstim Nov 1, 2006 10:05 PM

                                      Not to turn on my own post, but I guess if you get down to basics, all cooking is, and always has been, MG. As properly noted, McGee has demonstrated as much. If you are to cook at all, you will find it necessary to understand how heat denatures protein and why there are one hundred and one folds in a chef's toque.(One for each different way of preparing an egg, at least apocryphally.)And technically that's all MG.
                                      Maybe I'm just tired of hearing the highfalutin' term bandied about, like it's somehow a more noble or intellectually rarefied enterprise than mere "cooking". Could be that my whole problem with the genre is semantic in nature. But I still don't know why we need to make perfectly good fish into noodles or solidify mayonnaise so it can be deep-fried.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: diropstim
                                        babette feasts RE: diropstim Nov 2, 2006 01:46 AM

                                        Why? Chefs gotta have fun too!

                                        1. re: diropstim
                                          jpschust RE: diropstim Nov 2, 2006 12:40 PM

                                          Try thinking of it this way- a) get past the hipster notion of it- hipster or not it's still a meal and that's not relegated to a group of foodies or anything in particular. b) it's just something newer and different. I just tend to like that it feels more creative at times. Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it fails, but I'll take the risk of a bad meal and failure for the sake of the adventure that comes with it.

                                          And yes, all cooking has been MG, for all time, but I think the term has taken on a newer meaning as of late to describe a certain limited style of cooking. I just think the term itself is evolving with different usage.

                                          1. re: jpschust
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                                            scott123 RE: jpschust Nov 2, 2006 08:14 PM

                                            No, the term isn't evolving. It's only being associated with experimental cooking because that gets the most headlines. For those that delve beyond fads/popularity, MG is a much larger umbrella.

                                          2. re: diropstim
                                            s
                                            scott123 RE: diropstim Nov 2, 2006 08:09 PM

                                            "Not to turn on my own post, but I guess if you get down to basics, all cooking is, and always has been, MG."

                                            Really, I never knew :)

                                            McGee has, indeed, demonstrated as much. As well as Herve This.

                                          3. Robert Lauriston RE: diropstim Nov 2, 2006 02:05 AM

                                            I can't be fed up with something I haven't had the opportunity to try. I heard of one place in the San Francisco area doing that stuff, but it wasn't conveniently located and closed.

                                            I think people around here feel like Heston Blumenthal, noted chemist-chef of The Fat Duck: "If I could get perfect vegetables, I wouldn't need to do all this." We can, so we don't.

                                            http://www.ryanadams.org/Thread.aspx?...

                                            1. d
                                              daveklop RE: diropstim Nov 2, 2006 02:53 AM

                                              I'm interested that no one has noted the Slow Food movement, whose bi-annual summit is going on in Italy as we speak (http://www.chow.com/stories/10182). Is slow food, with its ideology of local traditions and natural ingredients, the foil of Molecular Gastronomy? Is Ferran Adria the nemesis of Alice Waters? Are they competing movements, vying for the souls of foodies, or is Slow Food a reactionary response to the future of food, which MG represents?

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: daveklop
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                                                Flynn1 RE: daveklop Nov 2, 2006 04:17 PM

                                                Slow Food and Molecular Gastronomy do not compete against each other nor will one cancel the other out. Delicious food is an art form and chefs like Ferran Adria and Alice Waters are pioneers and do not compete - they create - and chowhounds are the winners.

                                                1. re: Flynn1
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                                                  daveklop RE: Flynn1 Nov 3, 2006 11:25 AM

                                                  Actually when i looked deeper into Chow's writeup of Terra Madre, I saw that Adria was a featured speaker. So they must have some common ground!

                                              2. w
                                                Wanda Fuca RE: diropstim Nov 2, 2006 08:16 PM

                                                Every time I hear "molecular gastronomy" it invokes yawns. Maybe those boobs can discover why their research has the same sleep inducing properties as a big turkey dinner yet provides none of the pleasure while ingesting it.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Wanda Fuca
                                                  applehome RE: Wanda Fuca Nov 3, 2006 01:51 AM

                                                  Out of curiosity, where have you had MG cuisine?

                                                2. opinionatedchef RE: diropstim Nov 3, 2006 04:03 AM

                                                  Applehome, MCSlim, Flynn, I am completely in agreement with your perceptive and articulate views on this. While foams are , for me, an unfortunate choice for the 'flagship' of this movement, I have NEVER in my life of chefing and International eating- had a more fascinating or rewarding experience than our long evening spent at Jose Andres' Minibar at Cafe Atlantico in D.C., last December. When I left, I told my husb. that, "were I a 'millionaire chef', I would send every chef I have ever admired- to experience this."

                                                  1. pitu RE: diropstim Nov 3, 2006 12:13 PM

                                                    The only thing that makes me *tired* of molecular gastronomy is pretenders like the kids on Top Chef that use MG jargon; buzzwords without skills = annoying.

                                                    Fun thread to read - thanks folks!

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                                                      Tjaart RE: diropstim Dec 10, 2006 10:11 AM

                                                      I think it will come and go as did nouvelle cuisine and all the other food fads, and maybe leave behind a few interesting ideas. I must say I find the molecular stuff particularly decadent in its most negative sense - rich people playing with their food.

                                                      1. c
                                                        chaz RE: diropstim Dec 11, 2006 02:59 AM

                                                        I'm not so sure about this foam thing. Like I made Chicken soup and when it was gone I put the pan in the sink with some liquid soap and ran the really hot water into the pan. Soon on the top wss this huge foamy thing. I said what the hell-foam-so I tried it. Yuck! It tasted like chicken flavored soap. What a disappointment. Jeesh!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: chaz
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                                                          hummingbird RE: chaz Dec 11, 2006 03:44 AM

                                                          Thanks for the laugh!

                                                        2. h
                                                          howund09 RE: diropstim Dec 11, 2006 04:31 AM

                                                          My mom told me not to play with my food.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: howund09
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                                                            HenryT RE: howund09 Dec 18, 2006 03:36 AM

                                                            Julia Child told me _to_ play with my food.

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                                                            suse RE: diropstim Dec 11, 2006 12:29 PM

                                                            Really interesting thread. I know so little about this, but it seems like a bit of an art movement within the world of cooking. So, why not? If it amuses you and you can afford it, have at it.
                                                            I have read about foam here and there and it hasn't exactly made me salivate, but hey, I'd try it if someone wanted to foot the bill. I wouldn't expect a warm and fuzzy dinner experience, but rather an encounter with art.

                                                            1. h
                                                              howund09 RE: diropstim Dec 11, 2006 09:38 PM

                                                              Julia Child said of Nouvelle Cuisine, "It's beautiful but it looks like the Chefs hands were all over it." When you take food that far away from it's origin it is self indulgent for indulgences' sake. I admire the technique but mostly I eat because I'm hungry.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: howund09
                                                                applehome RE: howund09 Dec 12, 2006 09:30 PM

                                                                Some live to eat and others eat to live. I think that people who are chowhounds belong to the first group. Of course, we're hungry when we eat - but the pleasure we get from eating is far and beyond what the average person does. If that pleasure doesn't include the satisfying of any sense of curiosity or desire to experience new and better, then indeed, that person cannot be a chowhound, even if we interpret that pleasure in a strictly empirical way. Why do we search for the best burgers? Isn't there a McDonald's around the corner?

                                                                Julia was a wonderful place to start - 30 years ago.

                                                              2. jen kalb RE: diropstim Dec 11, 2006 09:48 PM

                                                                At the heart of it, when I sit down to eat, I want to be thrilled with deliciousness, not taken on an acid trip or shocked. That goes unless I am expecting atypical sensations at a particular restaurant - unexpected sensations can be shocking and unpleasant take a bite taking a drink of milk expecting orange juice, etc - Any use of special techniques needs to be subtle and cant outrage normal expectations if a real public is going to be found for this work.

                                                                1. applehome RE: diropstim Dec 12, 2006 09:17 PM

                                                                  So - it's acceptable if someone takes cous-cous, douses it with shoyu, wraps a grape leaf around it and calls it middle eastern sushi. But it's unacceptable if someone looks at the essence of what grape leaf smells and tastes like, why it's been used in food the way it has for millenia, and figures out a new way of developing the flavor, then serves it in an as yet unheard of way - with perhaps different textures - yet maintaining the same flavour essence.

                                                                  Fusion's been going on for a long time - and most of it is just pure junk, because people are combining the end products of what different cultures have come up with over many years of development and experimentation, without a really good understanding of why these developments became what they were. MG is about science and a deeper understanding of food lore than these fusion experimenters have gone to. Two of the greatest food scientists we have - Harold McGee and Herve This - are declared MG enthusiasts and supporters. Between them and Harold Blumenthal, we are getting far more than foams and gelees. We are getting a better understanding of the physics and chemistry involved in food preparation. The knowledge will far outlast yesterday's new fad, even if specific items, like foam, do not.

                                                                  Herve This's book from last year was called:

                                                                  Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)

                                                                  This was part of the write-up in Scientific American about this's book:

                                                                  "A well-known chemist, a popular French television personality, a best-selling cookbook author, the first person to hold a doctorate in molecular gastronomy, and, coincidentally, a former editor at Pour la Science, the French edition of Scientific American. All these appellation come together in Hervé This, a scholar-gastronome who now has his first book available in English. One of the founders of molecular gastronomy, which brings the instruments and experimental techniques of the lab into the kitchen, the author blends practical tips and provocative suggestions with serious discussions—about how the brain perceives tastes, for example, and how chewing affects food."

                                                                  In the Chowhound community, we say, "if it tastes good, it's good". Little deference is paid towards knowledge and understanding - everything is based on the empirical experience of the moment - there is no value given to learning and understanding. And so it's probably natural that MG doesn't get much of a shake. Who cares about the details of emulsions and Maillard reactions - if we put it into our mouths and it tastes good, that's all there is to it.

                                                                  But that's not all there is to it. Study and experimentation are bound to increase our knowledge and understanding. It will make food better.

                                                                  Going back to Bourdain's trip to El Bulli - the only shock that he and his fellow guests had were pleasant ones - ones where they looked up in wonder at the way a flavor or texture had been captured. Nobody went on an acid trip - what a ridiculous thought - equating MG food with illicit drugs. More FUD - fear, uncertainty and doubt to keep the empirical masses from accepting and trying foods they have not had before.

                                                                  I don't think that a lot of us are going to get to El Bulli or The Fat Duck anytime soon, but trashing that experience is just pure envy - shadenfreude - those people that waited for El Bulli for years must just be having a miserable time...

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: applehome
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                                                                    butterfly RE: applehome Dec 12, 2006 09:35 PM

                                                                    I agree with you 100% (particularly the riff about fusion). I have had the pleasure of dining at El Bulli, but I am much more excited about the potential that this kind of research has on a more democratic scale.

                                                                    Adria, is part of a government-funded foundation that is researching how gastronomic research can reach the masses--particularly children--and encourage healthier and more sustainable eating habits. He has shared the recipes from each season in the history of El Bulli. I believe that this kind of research and creative exchange is very good for traditional cooking (and my experiences eating around Spain for the past years have borne this out). Already, these ideas of essences of flavors and distilled tradition are filtering down to much more humble settings.

                                                                    With all due respect, those who look at the incredibly hard work that these geniuses are doing and see only foam just don't know what they are talking about...

                                                                    1. re: applehome
                                                                      howler RE: applehome Dec 16, 2006 01:25 PM

                                                                      "But that's not all there is to it. Study and experimentation are bound to increase our knowledge and understanding. It will make food better."

                                                                      really? here's a counter-example: do you think all the intense studying and chemical classification of the compounds in wine has made wine better?

                                                                      its always about what happens in the mouth. the rest is so much sales hype.

                                                                    2. h
                                                                      howund09 RE: diropstim Dec 17, 2006 03:46 PM

                                                                      Well, yes, it has made wine better. Most of it anyway. And more of it has been made better. No one is questioning the genius or the good heart of Adria. He some how manages to take a tomato apart physically and emotionally, for the diner. But what about the chefs that do it for themselves. When did dining become an extension of the Chefs ego and not an extension of his/her love. Why have you done this to this tomato? Because it needs it? Because it wants it? Or are you doing something to this tomato that you should be doing in the bathroom by yourself.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: howund09
                                                                        applehome RE: howund09 Dec 17, 2006 06:37 PM

                                                                        I agree - there are always pioneers and followers. Some of the followers are bound to get it wrong. Making foam for foam's sake can't be taken any more seriously than making sushi out of couscous. And yet - there's always the argument that these folks are providing a taste of some of the guru's works for those that can't make it up the hill.

                                                                        I guess I don't understand the argument (from howler) that all that matters is what's in the mouth, in this context. If that's true, then by looking at the faces of Bourdain and his guests when they put some of the strange looking items in their mouths, there was obviously, overwhelming approval - the kind of looks that when I see it in restaurants, I ask the waiter over and find out what they had.

                                                                        But the experience they had in their mouths was a result of the analysis and work Adria had done for months (6) before he ever served the dish. Separating the two, as if this incredible taste just appeared out of thin air, is ludicrous.

                                                                        Food science has for too long been the sole purview of Cargill and their cohorts. As they managed to transform corn into everything from plastic to coca-cola, they affected our lives in ways we cannot imagine. Yes - they fed the world, but they gave us heart attacks in the process.

                                                                        Seeing these privateers attack the problems, but from a somewhat more foodie vs. profit perspective, is a great step in the right direction, in my mind. It's as enlightening as Alice Waters was when she proclaimed that freshness and simplicty were key, and natural growth and diversity were our real birthrights. I believe that the current trends in Molecular Gastronomy will have the same impacts over time - it will be more of a movement than a fad. And yes, there will be some strange results - you can't tell me that you haven't found a chef that was affected by the natural foods movement, but that never really got it, and that serves crap on a plate. MG will open up another dimension.

                                                                        1. re: applehome
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                                                                          diropstim RE: applehome Dec 19, 2006 12:02 AM

                                                                          I had no idea that El Bulli and The Fat Duck were privately owned yet government-commissioned armed ships tasked with attacking and harassing enemy shipping. Boy, the things you learn on these boards...

                                                                          1. re: diropstim
                                                                            applehome RE: diropstim Dec 19, 2006 03:21 PM

                                                                            That's obviously because you haven't read Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, nor have you actually worked in a kitchen. Privateers is a mild analogy - somtimes it's more yo ho, a bottle of rum, with no sanctions and no holds barred!

                                                                            Hey, dude... It's a metaphor.

                                                                            1. re: applehome
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                                                                              diropstim RE: applehome Dec 19, 2006 06:01 PM

                                                                              Wrong on both counts, applehome. Read the Bourdain thingy twice and have spent the last fifteen years in the kitchens of three continents, working my way from garde manger through Executive Chef and beyond. Most of this work was done in places far superior to anything described by Bourdain (let's not forget that he didn't become a "celebrity chef" on the strengths of his cooking.) In serious kitchens the cooks tend to see themselves as craftsmen, not swashbucklers or buccaneers. And by the way, an analogy is not the same thing as a metaphor.

                                                                              1. re: diropstim
                                                                                applehome RE: diropstim Dec 19, 2006 08:33 PM

                                                                                Nevertheless, I used privateer in context with food science and Cargill (et al) - and I stand by that usage. The private chefs that have been pioneering MG (and some are actually "sanctioned" by governments and groups that are interested in promoting this level of food science), are attacking an area of food that has been used by the "nasty corporates" in bad ways, and they are sailing their creative dreadnaughts into treacherous waters, indeed.

                                                                                The context as a whole is an analogy. The usage, as a stand-alone term without like or as, is a metaphor.

                                                                                So - I take it by your posts on this thread that your main issue is with the "press" about MG - and perhaps the laudatory aspects (including my specific references to the individual efforts - swashbuckling or otherwise) are what bothers you most about this. After all, all chefs experiment to whatever degree - that's what's called being creative - and just because you've never worked anywhere that they could get away with only opening up for half the year and playing around the other half, why should this kind of specific attention be paid to this area of work?

                                                                                I can see that. But given my own moments of envy and mistrusts of other people's "discoveries" in my areas of expertise, where I am now unemployed (along with 400,000 others), I would caution against abstaining from a movement that may end up surpassing the limitations you see today.

                                                                                An executive chef in NYC poo-poo'ing the Fresh and Natural foods movement in 1970 would not have been in trouble - they all did, in fact. But today, if it's not part of their kitchen, they're not serving the best meals. Who knows what aspects of MG will be commonplace in kitchens in 5, 10 or 30 years?

                                                                                35 years ago, I was swashbuckling in a resort, ostensibly prepping and slicing various parts of my thumb off, burning myself... We cooked, drank, played tricks on each other, and generally treated the FOH like the vermin they were. (Today, I way overtip...) But that's probably why I built my career away from food service... and why I identify with Bourdain so much. Argghh!

                                                                        2. re: howund09
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                                                                          HenryT RE: howund09 Dec 18, 2006 03:38 AM

                                                                          On average, research has made wine much better - by chopping off the bottom end. The top end is less enhanced - but there's more of it.

                                                                        3. d
                                                                          diropstim RE: diropstim Dec 19, 2006 11:29 PM

                                                                          Well defended, 'homey.

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