What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
34 views
34 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018
Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
68 views
68 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018
University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
107 views
107 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018
Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
92 views
92 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018
Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
121 views
121 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018
In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
165 views
165 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018
Brighton Needs You!
News
124 views
124 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
260 views
260 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
204 views
204 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
216 views
216 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
247 views
247 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
Bliss Signal Album Review
News
1 views
1 views

Bliss Signal Album Review

Ryan Bridgewater - October 18, 2018
194 Views
2 Comments

Molecular Gastronomy

Do you know the theory behind what you eat everyday? (pbmoustache.wordpress.com)

Ever wondered how your taste buds work? Why you like something that others detest? Maybe you’re an amateur chef, interested in improving your favourite recipe or simply interested in the science behind what you eat.

In a world of ever growing knowledge, where we seek the answers to all life’s puzzles – be they big or small – you can now find out. Scientists from all different areas are studying the secrets of gastronomy, whether directly or not.

Spanning biochemistry, neuroscience, psychology and genetics, discoveries and innovation have led to a better understanding of what we eat. And to better cooking?

Well we shall see!
The science now known as molecular gastronomy is the study of the physical and chemical processes that occur during cooking. It was the first discipline in its field. The term “molecular and physical gastronomy” was coined in 1992 by Hungarian physicist Nicholas Kurti and French physical chemist Herve This.

The idea came from cooking teacher Elizabeth Cawdry Thomas who had an interest in the science behind cooking. At a conference in Italy, she initiated talk about the topic, ultimately leading to Kurti and This, alongside famous science writer Harold McGee, to set up official workshops. The first was held in 1992 in Erice, Italy with the mission of connecting professional cooks and scientists.

These workshops have been held every few years since 1992 – the most recent in 2004. Every conference has a specific topic like sauces, food flavours or interactions of food and liquids. Some of the seminars held have included: chemical reactions in cooking, heat conduction and stability and flavour.

The scientists and chefs originally worked on 5 objectives:
– investigating culinary and gastronomical proverbs
– exploring existing recipes
– introducing new tools, ingredients and methods in the kitchen
– inventing new dishes
– helping public understanding of the contribution of science to society

Some of these objectives have become somewhat obsolete and outdated. The three components of the current objectives are more succinct: social, artistic and technical.So what has happened to those who set this all up? Nichola Kurti, who famously was one of the first TV chefs with his show “The Physicist in the Kitchen” in 1969, passed away in 1998. But not before organising the main events at the Italy conference for several important years. Hervé This still lives in France where he heads a research lab dedicated to investigating molecular gastronomy everyday. He is the author of many books on the subject and several blogs covering his work.

Harold McGee is still very much part of the affair currently teaching classes and writing a column for the New York Times – The Curious Cook. And the teacher who started it all? Elizabeth Cawdry Thomas sadly passed away in 2007, not without leaving behind her a series of recipes and a new foody craze!

Many restaurants and famous chefs are very taken by the topic. In the UK, you have probably heard of Heston Blumenthal or watched one of his wacky cooking sessions on TV. Although he dislikes the term, deeming it too complicated, he is an avid molecular gastronomer, researching and putting into action various aspects of the science.

His restaurant The Fat Duck is where the proof is. Other well-known adepts are French chef Pierre Gagnaire, Spanish owner of elBulli, Ferran Adrià and American restaurateur Grant Achatz.

So what can the study of food, its cooking and our eating of it help us understand? What can it teach us of our everyday eating habits? Let us take a more personal point of view. How do taste buds work? What composes different aromas and how does our brain translate them? We shall decode some worldwide cooking myths. Which old wives tales are worth the story?

Nicholas Kurti is famously quoted to have stated: “I think it is a sad reflection on our civilization that while we can and do measure the temperature in the atmosphere of Venus we do not know what goes on inside our soufflés”. Let’s find out if we have!

So what are taste buds and how do they work? Taste buds cover our tongues, allowing us to receive the taste sensation and transmit it to our brains. The buds can be found in taste pores – small opening on the tongue’s surface – and are usually flask shaped with a broad base and small neck-like opening onto the skin. There are around 100 cells of two different kinds in taste buds : supporting cells and gustatory cells.

The supporting cells are thought to simply be a source of basic sensation while the gustatory cells (also known as chemoreceptors) are where it all happens. They usually sit at the centre of the bud and are spindle shaped. They have gustatory hairs at the top of them near the tongue’s surface and are innervated by the seventh, ninth and tenth cranial nerve. It is these nerves that will pass the information from your mouths to our brains.

But how does do these receptors, and then the brain, differentiate between the difference tastes we subject them to? The five different “taste sensations” have been defined as: sweet, bitter, savoury (sometimes referred to as unami), salty and sour. Although the myth goes that there is a map of the tongue, with different areas controlling different tastes; it is now thought that the taste qualities are spread all over the tongue, even if some regions may be more sensitive than more. With between 2,000 to 8,000 taste buds by tongue, how does the brain differentiate?

Now for some basic neuroscience. Different receptors in the taste bud cells are thought to be responsible for differentiating tastes. As most of us probably know, signals are transmitted to the brain via an electrical current coursing through nerves. There are many different ways of activating this current, most of which involve the transport of ions through a communication channel between cells and neurons.

The idea here is that different channels could “code” for different tastes. Salt and sour are supposedly measured by a flow of cations (positively charges molecules) through these channels. Sweet, bitter and unami and through to use a group of more elaborate receptors called GPCRs (G Protein Coupled Receptor) which are activated by the presence of particular proteins. Research into which specific receptors are responsible for which taste is still underway. For example, A taste receptor named TAS2Rs has been shown to be responsible for the ability to taste bitter substances.

Part of the reason for these receptors, like most things in our body, is the ultimate goal of keeping us alive. Our ability to “like or dislike” certain tastes were initially set up to protect us from eating poisonous foods and push us to consume those our bodies need to function. For example, we have a basic dislike of things that are sour, like some berries. This is probably because many berries are highly poisonous!

And why do we like sweet things? Our bodies need glucose to maintain a level of activity, thus it pushes us to seek foods containing it. Although these rules may not apply in the modern whole we now live in, our taste buds had originally evolved to guide us to the right foods.

A little side note: why has unami (savory) only just been recognised in the West when it has always existed in Japan? Unami is meant to describe the taste of meat, cheese and mushrooms. The main substance we are detecting is called carboxylate anion of glutamic acid, an amino acid present in meats (particularly bacon). It can be used as a flavour enhancer, particularly its salt components.

You might have heard of it being often used in Asian cooking – it’s called MSG. The reason we have only just started taking it into account, is that the separate receptors for unami were only discovered in 1996 at the University of Miami. Before that, it was only considered as a sensation mix of the other tastes.

The interesting thing about taste buds is that we can trick them. It’s just a case of mind over matter. Many experiments have proven this in the past. Take for example, a group of wine buffs. They can supposedly separate various tastes in the wine they are drinking, from oak to cherries. They often comment on the texture and weight of the wine. A lot of this they can tell not only by smelling and tasting the wine but by looking at it. Thus a white wine will often be perceived as light and crisp with fresh fruit or citrus tastes. Red wine is heavier and dustier, maybe with the taste of berries. But what happens if you switch the wine colours? Experiments have been performed of transforming red wine to a white colour and vice-versa. The wine tasters where completely duped, analysing completely wrong associations in the wine simply due to the colour it showed. Other similar experiments have been made showing how our perceptions can alter our taste. Taste some ice cream. It takes… well ice creamy! Now taste it whilst thouching some velvet cloth: the ice cream will seem creamier. Taste some whilst touching some sand paper: the ice cream will feel gritty. How do we fool ourselves? These are some of the things scientists and chefs are trying to investigate within molecular gastronomy.

Although these concerns are of a more serious scientific nature, one particular aspect of their research might be very useful. In a field where good cooking practice is all word of mouth and grandmothers hidden recipes, the molecular gastronomers are taking it into their own hands to rectify some basic cooking myths. For all you kitchen lovers, these have probably been drilled into your head (as they had mine), but have no scientific basis whatsoever. Myth number1: always add salt to water when cooking green vegetable.

This one has an array of reasons: to keep the vegetables green, salting the water or heightening the boiling point. All untrue. The pigment in vegetables is not affected by salt but mainly by the acidity of the water (usually the calcium content). Adding salt to water does in theory increase the boiling point, but by a fraction of a degree. This is less than the difference between boiling the water at the top of a block of flats or at the bottom.

Myth number 2: the cooking time for a roast is dependent on its weight. Now, any mathematician can probably work this one out. The point of timing a roast is to get it to a stage where the inside is as cooked (or uncooked depending on your tolerance for rare meat) as needed. The time it takes for the heat to diffuse to the centre of your roast is not dependent on its weight but on its diameter. Imagine chopping your roast into two segments along the width. The diameter would still be the same, thus the time it takes for the heat to reach the centre will not have changed. According to tradition, roast baking time would have been halved. And the best for last.

Myth number 3: when making a meringue, if there is a spot of egg yolk in the egg white mix it will not rise. Every tried making a meringue? It takes some effort! Foody author Peter Barham rumanged through his cooking books and found a recipe for a different cake which also demands the whisking of eggs to stiff peaks. The recipe calls for egg yolks and whites. And it works. So don’t panic next time you get some yolk in your egg whites, it’s all a myth!

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam
What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
34 views
34 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018
Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
68 views
68 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018
University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
107 views
107 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018
Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
92 views
92 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018
Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
121 views
121 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018
In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
165 views
165 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018
Brighton Needs You!
News
124 views
124 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
260 views
260 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
204 views
204 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
216 views
216 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
247 views
247 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
Bliss Signal Album Review
News
1 views
1 views

Bliss Signal Album Review

Ryan Bridgewater - October 18, 2018
Name Changes Made Easier for Students
Campus News
5 views
5 views

Name Changes Made Easier for Students

Matthew Nicholls - October 18, 2018

2 Comments

  1. Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s truly informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future. Numerous people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

De-Stressing with Rob Cowen’s Common Ground
Arts
17 views
Arts
17 views

De-Stressing with Rob Cowen’s Common Ground

Hal Keelin - October 18, 2018

Upon my transfer to Sussex University, I found Robert Cowen’s Common Ground a particularly comforting read. After nearly a year out from academic study, I was finally…

What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
34 views
Arts
34 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018

  All you need to know about autumn at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts If you have not seen the ACCA’s new autumn programme, you…

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
68 views
Arts
68 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018

In celebration of Black History Month, Sussex Student Union organised a number of interesting talks and events across October. One of these exciting opportunities was a chance…

Review: Suzanne Ciani & Martin Messier at the ACCA
Film & Theatre
60 views
Film & Theatre
60 views

Review: Suzanne Ciani & Martin Messier at the ACCA

Anonymous - October 10, 2018

At the outset, Mr Messier’s FIELD at once invoked The Matrix and Daedalus’ Boiler Room set.  The basic concept of this mixed media performance relies on transducer…

Shelf Help: The Organisation Encouraging Self-Development
Arts
91 views
Arts
91 views

Shelf Help: The Organisation Encouraging Self-Development

Kate Dennett - October 10, 2018

To commemorate to this year’s Mental Health Awareness Day, I found it increasingly difficult to draw attention to just one book of relevance in recognition of this…

Freshers’ Week from a second year perspective
Campus News
87 views
Campus News
87 views

Freshers’ Week from a second year perspective

Chris Ahjem - October 9, 2018

Annually, the University of Sussex welcomes thousands of new students to our Falmer campus and every year the Student’s Union and Brighton based clubs and businesses increase…

National Badger Day: 10 fun facts you might not have known
News
123 views
News
123 views

National Badger Day: 10 fun facts you might not have known

Chris Ahjem - October 6, 2018

To celebrate National Badger Day here are 10 fun facts about our animal kingdom namesake Badgers can run up to 16-19 miles per hour which is the…

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
107 views
Arts
107 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018

This coming week marks the celebration of Libraries Week, an event solely dedicated to praising the work of libraries across the UK. This annual event is taking…

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
92 views
Interview
92 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018

The young star is often a tricky title to navigate. There are the big names, who explode into the world with noise, bright light, a big record…

How Fenty Beauty changed the face of the makeup industry
Lifestyle
123 views
Lifestyle
123 views

How Fenty Beauty changed the face of the makeup industry

Rachel Badham - October 3, 2018

Fenty Beauty, launched in September last year, is a makeup line created by global superstar Robyn Rihanna Fenty, better known as Rihanna. It’s not uncommon for celebrity…

Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
121 views
Lifestyle
121 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018

Once an art form disregarded by many, 2018 bears witness to the continuous rise of drag as a legitimate, celebrated art. Spearheaded by RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag…

In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
165 views
Arts
165 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018

This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Alannah Myles, the 1991 Grammy winner for best female rock vocal performance for her outstanding vocal abilities for the…

Brighton Needs You!
News
124 views
News
124 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018

Brighton is a vibrant and thriving city that many students at Sussex are lucky enough to call home. But there are many in the area in need…

Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
260 views
Arts
260 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018

Starting university comes with both exciting but potentially daunting changes, with both moving away from home and studying at degree level posing to be two new challenges.…

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist
Film & Theatre
192 views
Film & Theatre
192 views

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist

Olek Młyński - September 18, 2018

One key film in the development of anyone who grew up in the early 2000s was The Incredibles (2004). It’s comedy, vibrancy, and general sense of fun…

France in Fine Fettle
Sports
204 views
Sports
204 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Prior to the start of the quadrennial tournament this summer, football fans across the world grew sceptical over Russia’s credentials and ability to host the most prestigious…

Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
216 views
Arts
216 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Boredom is impossible when you throw yourself into everything this weird and wonderful city has to offer. The specific and unique cultural wonders of Brighton are indeed…

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
247 views
Arts
247 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018

During this year’s Pride Festival, Brighton had the honour of welcoming international pop star and voice of the early 2000s, Britney Spears, to the main stage. Undoubtedly,…

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
1303 views1
Campus News
1303 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Bliss Signal Album Review
News
1 views
News
1 views

Bliss Signal Album Review

Ryan Bridgewater - October 18, 2018

By Ryan Bridgewater CD/Vinyl/Download At first glance, the worlds of black metal and electronic dance music do not seem to have very much in common. The former…

New Student Energy Project Launches at Sussex
Campus News
3 views
Campus News
3 views

New Student Energy Project Launches at Sussex

Jessica Hubbard - October 18, 2018

A new Student Energy Project has started at Sussex. The project is run in collaboration with The Student Energy Project, the University Sustainability team and Sussex Students’…

Name Changes Made Easier for Students
Campus News
5 views
Campus News
5 views

Name Changes Made Easier for Students

Matthew Nicholls - October 18, 2018

The University of Sussex will now accept unenrolled deed polls as proof of name change to those who wish, granting more freedom and anonymity to those in…

Sentences Quashed for Fracking Protestors
News
26 views
News
26 views

Sentences Quashed for Fracking Protestors

Jessica Hubbard - October 17, 2018

The court of appeal has quashed sentences handed to 3 fracking protestors calling them "manifestly excessive". Jail sentences of 15- 16 months were given to the three…

In Conversation with Peter Tatchell: Gender, Direct Action and Brexit
News
27 views
News
27 views

In Conversation with Peter Tatchell: Gender, Direct Action and Brexit

Jessica Hubbard - October 17, 2018

Veteran human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, gave a talk on campus. Known for his work with the LGBTQ+ community, he spoke about free speech under attack and…

NUS Backs ‘People’s Vote’
News
17 views
News
17 views

NUS Backs ‘People’s Vote’

kenyon55 - October 17, 2018

The NUS has expressed its support for a national referendum on the final Brexit deal, also referred to as a ‘People’s Vote’. This came after Labour MPs…

Over 1,000 Sign Sussex Fracking Open Letter
Campus News
21 views
Campus News
21 views

Over 1,000 Sign Sussex Fracking Open Letter

Jessica Hubbard - October 17, 2018

An open letter started by Sussex academics has gained over 1,000 signatures. The letter, entitled ‘Open letter from UK academics: The harsh sentencing of anti-fracking campaigners sets…

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Resumes
National News
41 views
National News
41 views

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Resumes

Jessica Hubbard - October 16, 2018

Written by Danielle Ball Shocking witness statements have been heard from the fire crew and call handlers involved in the response to the tragedy The Grenfell Tower…

Renting Unaffordable for Young People
National News
30 views
National News
30 views

Renting Unaffordable for Young People

Jessica Hubbard - October 16, 2018

South East among the most expensive areas to rent as revealed by BBC research. Research carried out by The BBC has found that renting is unaffordable for…

Joe Armon-Jones Brings Jazz to Patterns
Music
52 views
Music
52 views

Joe Armon-Jones Brings Jazz to Patterns

Lara Antoine - October 13, 2018

Photo by Vojta Dvrocek Whether you’ve seen him in Ezra Collective or featuring alongside other breakthrough neo-jazz artists like Mr Jukes. Pianist Joe Armon-Jones is no stranger…

“Climax” review – The return of the French provocateur
Arts
60 views
Arts
60 views

“Climax” review – The return of the French provocateur

Olek Młyński - October 11, 2018

The newest film from the notorious Gaspar Noé was so critically acclaimed at the Cannes Film Festival that the director himself could not believe it. Climax opens…

Kode9 & Burial – Fabriclive 100
Music
98 views
Music
98 views

Kode9 & Burial – Fabriclive 100

Ryan Bridgewater - October 5, 2018

Released 28th September Available on: CD/Vinyl/Download   The anticipation couldn’t have been greater when the final instalment in London nightclub Fabric’s legendary DJ mix series was announced…