Hydrocolloids

Food has long been a source of great fascination and wonder in my daily life. There was a brief and brutal period in time where I actually subjected myself to the restaurant business which I ushered myself out of wounded and wide-eyed all at the age of 23. In the years following though I have kept up and persevered, only in the sense that I’m still cooking for myself and others at home to satisfy an itching fascination with the essence of food.

Most recently, the highly controversial subject of Molecular Gastronomy has entered become of interest. This field most notably made public by the physical chemist Herve This, is an area of interest in the food world that is usually scoffed at or adorned with a religious fervor. In my case, my curiosity has led me to begin to learn as much about the subject as possible in order to be able to make an educated opinion on the matter. My mind has been buried deep, as of late, into books, blogs, restaurants, and articles all regarding the matter. There is a highly arguable angle that people tend to stray from the essence of taste in order to achieve solutions to eccentric quandaries regarding food. I have found that in most cases this is true, although there are few that take these issues to whole new levels of food. In short, the creation of the standard omelets or unparalleled success of such things like Jamon Serrano can all be arguably considered matters of molecular gastronomy. They, like most things, are processes in which people went to great lengths to understand the actual science behind creating something perfect in a food “process” and furthermore be able to recreate it again and again by virtue of that precise or, dare I say it, scientific knowledge of the matter.

In light of such matters, I decided to take a class concentrating on an aspect of food science known as Hydrocolloids. This class was made available through two fantastic Chef’s and bloggers, H. Alexander Talbot and Aki Kamozawa. They have a blog known as “Ideas in Food” and it’s just that, a daily account in the trials and tribulations of their daily lives as they pioneer new techniques in food. It has been a truly inspiring place for me and amazingly they update on almost a daily basis. Although the class was a whirlwind of information and I left feeling intimidated by the amount of technique I needed to acquire, I have decided to push forth and start giving some things a shot. Without further ado, I present my first foray in the world of Molecular Gastronomy:

Suspended Tomato Essence with a Balsamic Reduction

Tomato Essence

Now this is no feat by any means but at least it has begun to give me some understanding and inspiration towards the science behind what we eat and how it gets from kitchen to plate.

H. Alexander Talbot – Hydrocolloid class

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2 Responses to “Hydrocolloids”

  • Paco Says:

    I’ve really enjoyed your posts – keep it going! As someone said, “the unexamined life is not worth living”. I had a laugh of appreciation for your enthusiasm when I saw your suspended tomato essence, and would love to try it. The class sounds fascinating – when I was going to Berkeley I used to go to a class, in her home, given by a diminutive French woman who had been the cook for Isadora Duncan (the famed and reckless dancer of the Parisian boheme who died strangled by her own scarf when it got caught in the wheels of her speeding convertible). What is that chocolate-looking cube and swirl by the way?

  • Josh Says:

    Interesting stuff. Hope you’ve started wearing safety goggles in the kitchen- some foods have an explosive essence when you really start working them.

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