At 08:18 PM 7/3/2010, Skip King wrote:
>>Molecular gastronomy techniques, in particular faux "caviar"?
>I suppose you could make a case for it - but realistically, much of 
>molecular gastronomy - such as your faux caviar - rests on 
>utilization of ingredients such as Xanthan gum, which I would argue 
>is a chemical, and the addition of chemicals to the cooking process 
>is long established (salts and nitrates in meat curing, alum in 
>pickling, etc.).  Much of the rest of if relies essentially on 
>refinement of pre-existing techniques.

Getting into some fine shades of semantics here. Arguably much of 
cooking, especially baking, is the addition of chemicals. Even 
something as simple as adding a roux to thicken a sauce is food 
chemistry 101, or the Maillard reaction. IMO, when we do chemistry to 
come up with something new and novel, then that represents a new 
technique. Faux caviar, which is not xanthan gum but done by mixing a 
food puree with sodium alginate and dropping the liquid into a 
calcium chloride bath is just that. You get little spheres with an 
outer membrane and inner liquid, thus you can make carrot or beet 
caviar - something that surprises and delights.

Chemical leavening in baking was considered a new technique as well, 
enabling new baked goods where the flavor of fermentation products of 
yeast would be undesirable.

>Call it a new technique if you want.  Personally, I think it's a party trick.

Perhaps. So is tableside Bananas Foster.

Professional amateur. 

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