Water, water everywhere: A study in texture

Wylie Dufresene (wd-50), with Ted Russin (CIA)
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Public Lecture 06 (2012)
Flow: An important aspect of the consistency and mouthfeel of many liquid foods is how easily they flow.
Wylie Durfesne, the head chef at wd-50 in New York, discussed his collaborations with food scientist Ted Russin, now a consultant with the Culinary Institute of America, to create unconventional textures in food.

Overview of this Week's Science

Motivation: wouldn't it be awesome to deep-fry mayonnaise?

This was the question that Wylie overheard from an intoxicated guest at a dinner party, which led to a whole realm of culinary exploration. He wrote to the food science branch at the CIA to ask about recipes for deep-fried mayonnaise -- and got back the standard recipe for mayonnaise. He had to explain that he was a professional chef, and learned how to make mayonnaise on the first day. Eventually, he was put in touch with Ted Russin, who helped find new products that could make a heat-stable version of the condiment.

Some polymers are better than others for certain applications, depending on the sizes and shapes of their molecules.
Polymers can act as thickners or gelling agents, depending on the concentration.

Equation of the Week

You can calculate how the elasticity, E, of a material is related to its viscosity, η by a time constant, τ.

$$ \eta = E \cdot \tau $$

Soft matter scientists use a special tool called a rheometer to quantify this relationship, but you can still see everyday applications of this. For instance, if you try stirring honey too fast, it feels like a solid, but if you slowly drag the spoon, then the honey can flow around like a liquid.

Beyond the lecture

Wylie thinks that edible shaving cream would be amazing. This could be a reserach project idea for future Science and Cooking students or enthusiastic home cooks.