Friday, September 10, 2010

Foams, Emulsions and Polymer Melts: Dinner!

I know this isn’t news, but I just found out that one of our many on-staff chefs is going to be a guest lecturer at Harvard this fall. That’s right: Harvard! University to the best and the brightest! Including, of course, our very own MO and BO. I must say, this begins to explain a lot.

bomo Harvard Law grads and over-achievers. In addition to being President, BO was also a Community Organizer and  guest lecturer of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago. MO, in addition to being FLOTUS is also World-Famous Fashion Icon and Busy Mom™

Bill Yosses, our dessert-is-not-a-right chef, has been announced as one of the guest lecturers for a new undergraduate science course offered for the first time this year at Harvard:

 Science of the Physical Universe 27, “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter

Don’t even get me started on “the Science of Soft Matter.”

The course offering is from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, in which Harvard brings the applied technology of Ferran Adrià’s molecular gastronomy to the classroom. You may recall this from our pre-Spain discussion of Ferran’s el Bulli restaurant. It’s all about dinner-as-science-project, as explained in the course description:

Adrià is considered a pioneer of exploiting scientific principles to push the limits of modern cuisine, manipulating the physical and chemical processes of cooking by using substances such as hydrocolloids, or “gums” that enable a delicate fruit puree to be transformed into a dense gel, and deconstruction techniques like spherification, creating a resistant skin of liquid.

styrofoam foodFerran’s “crunchy dehydrated strawberry meringue,” aka Styrofoam food


No wonder we’ve cancelled our Space Shuttle program: we’re going to turn NASA into a science lab for fake food.

All of which I find a little confusing - what with our interest in organic produce, locavore products and “healthy” eating. Do you know what goes into molecular gastronomy dining? Sodium Alginate, Calcium Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Isomalt and – I hope you’re sitting down -   Transglutaminase …  that’s …  Meat Glue! I can’t say for sure, but maybe we’re expanding our “organic” food line to include anything listed in the “Organic Chemistry 101” textbook.

Anyway, chefs use these mysterious chemicals to create “food” that they then call “foams, emulsions and Polymer Melts.” Mmm, mmm, mmm.

 foams Foam with bits of organic matter suspended in it: precious!

spherical balloons the spherification of zygotes

Did I just read something about there being an education bubble about to pop? I mean besides Glenn Reynolds article? Because I think this might just cinch their case.

O/T, but be sure to tune in for Big Guy’s presser at 11:00 AM. He’ll be announcing our new economic czar: Austan Goolsbee: I guess we’ve just decided to start writing the material for the late night comedians ourselves, since they’re going to pick on us anyway.

goolsbeeGoolsbee and Frank, doing their homework.