mardi 1 mai 2018

Answers to questions

This morning, an email that I have to answer !


Dear Hervé This,
Hi, my name is xxxxx xxxxx, and I am 11 years old, and in 5th grade in the U.S. In my school district, as an end of elementary school project, all of 5th grade is doing a project called xxxxxx. For xxxxx, students are allowed to pick any topic of choice to study and create a presentation on; to present to younger grades. My topic of choice is molecular gastronomy. I chose this topic since it seemed really interesting to me and I wanted to learn about it. One of the requirements for xxxxxx is; after researching your topic, you need to interview an expert on your topic of choice (in this case for me it’s molecular gastronomy), and I thought there would be no better person to interview other than you!
    I was wondering if I could ask you a list of questions for my project? If so, here they are:
    How did you come up with the idea of molecular gastronomy?
    What do you think is the purpose of molecular gastronomy?
    Why has molecular gastronomy become so popular?
    What is your favorite part about making molecular gastronomy?
    Has molecular gastronomy impacted your life in any way? If so, how?
Also, do you recommend any books or articles I could read (in English) to find out more about molecular gastronomy? If so, it would be great if you could send me some sources of information, as well as the answers to my questions.
Thank you for taking your time to read this, and I hope you can get back to be soon.


Here are my answers: 

How did you come up with the idea of molecular gastronomy?









The answer was given many times, and in particular on my internet site https://sites.google.com/site/travauxdehervethis/. 
Go to "questions and answers" : https://sites.google.com/site/travauxdehervethis/Home/et-plus-encore/pour-en-savoir-plus/questions-and-answers
Indeed all began because I was cooking a cheese soufflé the 16th of March 1980 : the recipe was advising to add the yolks two by two... and I realized at that time that this was non sense... and I decided to collect such "culinary precisions" in order to test them experimentally. This led to the creation of molecular gastronomy, but also to molecular cooking, molecular cuisine, and more recently to note by note cooking (have a look on this !)

What do you think is the purpose of molecular gastronomy?The purpose is very clear and simple, and it is given by the definition of molecular gastronomy: it is looking for the mechanisms of phenomena occurring during culinary professes.

In other words, when one cooks (i.e. makes a dish), there are transformations : expansion, browning, sizzling, water evaporation, odor appearing, taste changing... and all these are phenomena. Being a scientific discipline, molecular gastronomy is trying to understand why and how these phenomena occur.
And because molecular gastronomy is a scientific activity (contrary to molecular cuisine or molecular cooking, or note by note cooking), the method for looking for the mechanisms is :
1. identify clearly the phenomenon that you want to study
2. characterize it quantitatively (you "measure")
3. make "laws" (i.e. equations from data of measurements)
4. find mechanisms (theory)
5. look for a testable consequence of the theory
6. test this consequence experimentally
and over and over.

Why has molecular gastronomy become so popular?For many reasons, but in particular because there was a confusion between cooking and science.
For molecular cooking, the success was certain, because it was obvious that a modernization of culinary activities was needed. Oh, yes, I have to tell you the definition of molecular cooking: cooking using modern tools coming from chemistry labs (such as thermocirculators, etc.).
After 1992, some chefs began using the tools that I was proposing since 1980, and the became famous... because the dishes that they were producing were new. And for any new activity, the journalists are willing to advertize it, so that molecular cooking developped rapidly.
At the same time, because populations had enough to eat, media began developing programs such as top chef, iron chef, etc. And molecular cooking became very popular.
Since the beginning, there was in the public a confusion between molecular cooking and molecular gastronomy... but molecular gastronomy developped as well... for many reasons, and in particular because it was helpful for education: students were more willing to study science when linked with such as a wonderful activity as cooking.
Also, and I should have said this first, molecular gastronomy introduced many new scientific ideas (DSF, dynagels, etc.).
 

What is your favorite part about making molecular gastronomy?
I don't know: I love maths, but I love also well done experiments.

Has molecular gastronomy impacted your life in any way?
If so, how?
Tremendously. Indeed it is my life. I work with passion at the lab, but I also lecture all over the world. How could I say...

Also, do you recommend any books or articles I could read (in English) to find out more about molecular gastronomy? If so, it would be great if you could send me some sources of information, as well as the answers to my questions.

I published many books in English (Molecular Gastronomy, Building a Meal, Note by Note Cooking, Cooking, a quintessential art), and even more in French, and there hundreds of podcasts on the AgroParis Tech site : http://www2.agroparistech.fr/podcast/ 
But there are also on line courses, both in English https://tice.agroparistech.fr/coursenligne/main/document/document.php?cidReq=FIPDESMOLECULARGASTR or in French

Indeed, don't miss the next Note by Note Contest !