Tuesday, November 24, 2009

S olid gold.

I watch Top Chef, and a couple of the "cheftestants" are brothers well-versed in "molecular gastronomy" (the Voltaggio brothers). This basically means they use technologically advanced techniques to change the texture and temperature of food to challenge how eaters approach food. Wylie Dufresne is a popular chef of this school (his restaurant is wd~50). Another chef and restaurant of this ilk is Grant Achatz and Alinea. I see his recipes on the blog Alinea at Home, and it seems they always start with pureeing, straining, and turning a food into a gel with agar agar or some other thickening agent.

In addition to gels, there are also foams and airs. Sometimes a spice smoke is trapped over a dish with plastic wrap and then you cut the plastic with a knife to release the air (and the experience). This got me to thinking about the essence of things, and which is the purest form.

Gas, Liquid, Solid, Plasma?

Is the soul of popcorn the corn saturated steam? Is an herbal infusion distilled to an extract the best way to capture a spice? Is a diamond the purest expression of carbon?

In the movie Cold Souls, they extract the soul and store it in glass containers not dissimilar in shape and size to the vacuum tubes at a bank drive thru. Paul Giamatti's soul is the size, shape, and color of a chickpea.
*drop cap by Jessica Hische



At November 25, 2009 8:18 AM, Blogger Curly Sue said...

Seems like all the contestants on the cooking shows have their schtick that they insist on using in every episode. I'm thinking of this lady one season who started EVERY damn dish with a "sofrito," explaining EVERY TIME that it was her Mexican grandmother's recipe.

At November 25, 2009 9:58 AM, Blogger CëRïSë said...

I'd never heard of Cold Souls; it sounds like an interesting film!

At November 27, 2009 12:52 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

The worst on the cooking shows is when contestants that aren't near the level of the rest stick around episode after episode because someone else has a worse dish. That sofrito woman sounds annoying, but the editors have a say in things too.

Cold Souls is a very fun movie. It has a similar aesthetic to Being John Malkovich. But I might be reminded of that just because Paul Giamatti plays himself in the film. I recommend it.


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