Food and Science

Harold McGee and Dave Arnold
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Public Lecture 01 (2012)


Introduction: The goal of cooking is to transform raw ingriedients into something that is more nutritious or appealing. This course enables students to see how each of these scientific applies ot these transformations. They also gain practice in applying to scientific method to answering their own culinary questions.
In the lecture video, Harold McGee gives a brief overview of the history of applying science to cooking; starting with experiments hundreds of years ago, through the rise of Nouvelle cuisine, to the Modernist Cuisine movement led by Ferran Adria and others.
Key Lesson: Molecules in Food. This week showed students how to see food in terms of much smaller building blocks, called molecules.
In the lecture, Dave Arnold shows demos the demonstrate the unique properties of different types of molecules: the carbohydrates in agar, the proteins in eggs, and the ethanol in alcohol.


Overview of this Week's Science Concepts

Below is a brief introduction to molecules.

Equation of the Week

Each week in the class has an equation that connects the scientific concept to the culinary applications. The equation this week allows you to convert between the number of molecules and the amount of an ingredient in a recipe.

Beyond the Lecture

Large molecules that interact with water, called hydrocolloids by chefs, have changed what is possible with cooking. Most of these are polysaccharides.

You can read more from the Cooking Issues Hydrocolloids Primer or the Kyhmos Hydrocolloid Recipe Collection, in addition to later lectures in this series.