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Molecular Gastronomy 101: Chocolate Mayo

Molecular Gastronomy 101: Chocolate Mayo

Chocolate mayo: a creamy texture. (Photo KK)

Katie Kwan | Chef's Blade

There are a few books I would like to finish: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee, Molecular Gastronomy by Herve This, and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

One of them is about the exploration of spatial dimensions — including a very sexist and fascist portrayal of the two dimensional world of ‘flatland’. Another is an encyclopedia of food science-including photos of gluten and fat molecules under an electron microscope. The next is a discussion on how food science of today leads to innovation tomorrow. The first three books highlight my affinity for the applied sciences while the last is a hilarious book about a slovenly slug, who slings a 400 page indictment against our times.

I will focus on the second and third books, those concerning food science. These books are not everybody’s bedside table books. They are not coffee table books either. They may, perhaps, act as large blocks under which you weigh down a simmering pot of dolmas. But I dare say that they are that they are for me.

Let’s narrow in on the matter of emulsions, which is mentioned in both books: the unlikely marriage of fat and water. This phenomenon occurs when water and oil get together under the generosity of the globular proteins.

As a review, water and oil regard each other with equal contempt. Think of them as republicans and democrats – shit-slingers. Now think of proteins as these large globular masses that appeal to each side – money, power, and the senate. Begrudgingly, they must unite under the bi-partisanship of the legislative senate to make progressive changes like healthcare reform &ndash errr – all the while able to sleep with their lady lovers on the side. **Caution: disturb the balance, by throwing in too many republicans or democrats and the house falls down.

That, my friends is an emulsion. A protein structure that attracts both fat and water in its mass. What are examples of emulsions? Caesar salad dressing for one: The proteins in the egg yolk join oil and vinegar in a happy love tub. Milk as another: The milk fats and waters doing the hippie dance with proteins. Mousses, pates, and ice creams are some more!