New Food Fad: Molecular Gastronomy

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

My introduction to Molecular Gastronomy consisted of some blurry pictures from the inside of Alinea. My sister and her husband raved about concoctions that were freeze dried, laser fried or pulverized beyond recognition. They described round popping balls of flavor that burst all over your face if you didn’t close your lips fast enough. I was interested, but the price tag of a visit to Alinea was enough to keep me watching from the sidelines.

Now, it seems that I can’t read my RSS feeds without hearing about some exclusive restaurant that specializes in molecular gastronomy. What is it? According to Wikipedia:

Molecular Gastronomy is the application of science to culinary practice and more generally gastronomical phenomena.

The chefs use scientific techniques to create food, thus the liquid nitrogen, lasers and pulverizers.

This concoction, called Whim 03 was served at L’Enclume in Cartmel, Great Britain.

Whim 03 from L’Enclume

Here is the description from That’s How It Happened:

It was the first dish that absolutely knocked me into a cocked hat for technical brilliance. The white block was an impossibly light, and yet completely sturdy marscapone foam, topped with salmon roe, on a bed of parsley puree. The pink powder was grated frozen tuna, which reminded me of freeze dried astronaut food. The white puree was grapefruit foam, with passion fruit seeds. This was a riot of contrasting textures, with absolutely surprising complementary flavours.

Marscapone foam, salmon fish eggs, parsley puree, grated frozen tuna and grapefruit foam. It sounds like a good mixture for the “I’ll eat anything and you pay me money if I don’t barf” game. The diner at L’Enclume was quite pleased with the food, but it all smacks of the Emperor’s New Clothes to me. Sure, the tuna fish is frozen and pulverized, but in the end, it’s still tuna.

Has eating hit such a pinnacle that it is no longer about sustenance but extreme diversity in tastes and textures?

When an egg is no longer an egg, what is the point anymore?

This is not an egg

According to Slashfood, this is not an egg:

It looks like an egg – maybe poached, maybe fried – right? You’re close, but…not really. That’s Marcel Vigneron’s Cyber Egg, made with no egg whatsoever. Rather, it’s a dollop of carrot-cardamom puree that has been mixed with sodium alginate into calcium chloride to create the appearance of a “yolk,” and coconut milk mixed with agar hardened in a ring-shaped dish.

Eating at one of these restaurants is said to be an experience that is beyond the food, but I’m having a hard time believing it. I’m waiting for the next food fad: simple and whole food served fresh, and I’m not talking about that Raw Food fad either.

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3 Responses to “New Food Fad: Molecular Gastronomy”

  1. Rob Ejliah Says:

    “I’m waiting for the next food fad: simple and whole food served fresh, and I’m not talking about that Raw Food fad either.”

    That was California cooking circa 1972. See: Alice Waters et al.

    The “new” cuisine you speak of takes fresh ingredients as a given and adds technical brilliance, creativity, and a bit of science to it (at times). It sounds like you have yet to eat at one of the great outposts of this style… I suggest you try it, you might be surprised.

  2. iportion Says:

    I wouldn’t mind going to moto the scince food there sounds a lot more fun.

    PS I don’t think that looks like an egg.

  3. Gal Josefsberg Says:

    Rob, I have tried, both here in the SF Bay Area and in other locations. I remain unimpressed. These new techniques try to produce something new and unique but in return, they usually ask me to spend a significant premium in money. Why? I can find something unique and new just by trying a new ethnic cuisine. I can find something healthy and fresh at any local restaurant here. So why should I pay 10 times as much for Tuna that was frozen and then shot with a laser or whatever!

    GJ http://www.60in3.com

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