To understand better what molecular mixology is, we have to answer a few questions.
1. History of Molecular Gastronomy
2. What is Molecular Mixology?
3. Why do we have to bother to learn and use these techniques? Are there any benefits for us as bartenders or business owners?
4. How – methods or techniques
One might ask about the need to know the origins of Molecular Gastronomy, it is going to help us make better dishes or drinks, and the answer is probably not. Looking back at history, though, will give us a better understanding of the reason for creating and developing a scientific approach. With this help, we can see the in-depth chemical and physical transformation occurring during cooking.
The father of Molecular gastronomy is the French physical chemist Hervé This. Together with the Hungarian scientist Nicholas Kurti, a professor of physics at the University of Oxford, they coined the term in 1988. They were interested in the science behind all the phenomena during culinary processes.
Before them, some other scientists took an interest in the chemistry of food, such as 18th-century chemist Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier who studied meat stock. A German chemist Friedrich Christian Accum, whose A Treatise on Adulterations of Food and Culinary Poisons (1820) raised awareness of food safety, and the 19th-century French chemist Michel-Eugène Chevreul, studied the chemical composition of animal fat. These are some scientists who helped set up the foundation of today’s food science.
Food science has existed for a long time time, but with a focus mainly on industrial production and the chemical ingredients composition of the food.
Hervé This and professor Kurti took different approaches. They were more interested in the culinary processes at a restaurant and home level of cooking.
The objects of their interest were the traditional recipes and cooking methods passed on from one generation to the next. They were using scientific methods to find out what was going on during the chemical transformation of the ingredients on a molecular level. Professor Kurti’s famous quote shows that learning about the culinary transformation of the food we eat is as important as any other science out there.
“I think it is a sad reflection on our civilization that while we can measure the temperature in the atmosphere of Venus, we don’t know what is going on inside our soufflés.”Professor Kurti
Developing new ways of cooking based on science became one of the main goals of Molecular Gastronomy.
Hervé This and Nicolas Kurti felt the gap between science and actual cooking is still too large. Four years later, in 1992, Erice, Italy, initiated the Erice workshop “International workshop on molecular gastronomy.”
With the help of the American Elizabeth Cawdry Thomas, cooking teacher Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, and Heston Marc Blumenthal from the Fat Duck restaurant – the only cook as the first workshop. Since then, these meetings have been organized every few years, as the last was in 2004. Hervé This continues his research at The International Center for Molecular Gastronomy AgroParisTech-INRAE.
The Molecular Gastronomy innovations were quickly adopted by chefs and used in their restaurants to create new and exciting dishes, in places like Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli, Blumenthal’s Fat Duck, Grant Achatz’s Alinea, and chef Homaro Cantu, as well as in many other establishments where the food and the drinks became the center and the main topic of conversation.