Sunday, 2 October 2011

Too Old Too Slow Too Good

6 comments:

steve said...

Great review in the weekend Australian today George and Di-congratulations!

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Thanks Steve and the Catters did so well....

Thermomixer said...

As Steve said - congrats on positive write up from Mr L.

At first I thought the heading was related to the article! Keep it up. Hopefully the T'rak Tractors won't fill the car park & deprive us regulars.

Thinking of you as we wander through markets of Paris & Spain. Had to buy food & cook it in the apartment, just to get the bug out of the system. Hate the lack of veg in restaurants while travelling.

Love to Di & again, great job.

Thermomixer said...

Just looking at your Slideshow is making me hungry for great fruit & veg!

Elliot and Sandra said...

Hi George, Thanks for a beaut lunch last Saturday and the discussion about new developments in cooking. I thought you might like to read this
By Bill Gates
Can Science Improve Cooking?

The scientific and technological frontiers of cooking are comprehensively explored in "Modernist Cuisine", a new, six-volume guidebook by Bill’s long-time friend and colleague, Nathan Myhrvold. For Bill, the book is fascinating for its in-depth explanations and its potential for making good food even better.

I’m always quite interested in learning about the science involved in our everyday lives. Take, for example, cooking. There’s a lot of interesting physics, chemistry and biology involved in how food tastes, how cooking changes its taste, and why we like some tastes and not others. So, for me, Nathan Myhrvold’s new book, Modernist Cuisine, is fantastic.

I've known Nathan for more than 25 years. He’s a brilliant guy, a physicist. At Microsoft, he did an amazing job of launching our research group. Later he created Intellectual Ventures. IV is a company built around inventions in many different fields, like using lasers to kill mosquitoes and fight malaria. Nathan has always been interested in cooking, and right next to the IV laboratory where they build prototypes of their inventions, there’s a cooking lab where Modernist Cuisine was developed and tested.

The book is really more like an encyclopedia than a cookbook, although it has some incredible recipes. It explains a lot about the science of cooking, and explores new food-preparation techniques that bring out amazing new flavors. A lot of the recipes involve preparation techniques that probably wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago, like using liquid nitrogen to rapidly cool food to very low temperatures, which dramatically changes its texture and taste.

Nathan brought a bunch of great chefs together to work on the book, and he hired a great photographer and designers to illustrate it. Gradually the book got bigger and bigger. The final result is six volumes, weighs 40 pounds, and has 1,500 recipes and 3,200 photos. The pictures alone make the book a masterpiece. You can see how food changes as it cooks, and understand how different flavors come together to make something really great.

When Nathan gets involved in something, he goes all out, and in this case he’s really dived deep into the science and technology of cooking, explaining things like why we like meat so much, and why cream-based sauces are so good. Which leads to interesting questions, like could we create those tastes in ways that are less expensive, less fattening, and less work? At almost $500, Modernist Cuisine will be out of reach for many people, but for aficionados who want to understand everything there is to know about what they’re cooking and eating, it is a huge contribution.
If you get the opportunity you are sure to be astonished by this book.
Best wishes
Elliot

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Hi Elliot

It was lovely to meet you again on Sat.
My you have brought in the big guns!
How can a small enterprise like ours compete with the likes of Mr Gates? I could comment on the whole article but..
A short response in reference to the bit below

"It explains a lot about the science of cooking, and explores new food-preparation techniques that bring out amazing new flavors. A lot of the recipes involve preparation techniques that probably wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago, like using liquid nitrogen to rapidly cool food to very low temperatures, which dramatically changes its texture and taste."

I am saddned to see the foodie world so easily seduced by such statements as above.
As we were discussing over the bar spherification was developed by Unilever in the early 1950's, quick cooling, low temperature cooking has been arround for many decades. What new textures and tastes? Many of the results of the methods described in the book have been on the shelves of Asian and other food stores for many years. The sachets of Indian food, the dehydrated rolled cuttlefish of Malaysia and hundreds of other convenience foods use the techniques described in the book and have done for many decades. Remember Deb dehydrated mashed potato.. before that there was chuno from ancient Aztec cooking still being done in the Andes Yes, while providing good strng flavours and convenience they are not new. They provide convenience food to large food manufacturing processes to feed the multitudes. I ask questions when such preparations are highlighted in "cutting edge" "modernist" "top shelf" expensive Western restaurants that purport to do fine food.
Real fresh seasonal food is much harder to get, store and present in restaurants. These supposed modern techniques merely make it convenient to deconstruct preserve and reassemble to a "modernist" restaurant sensibility.
Yes I have seen the books you refer to and have to say that I have not seen such overblown hubris in print for quite some time. Someone with even the most basic knowledge of physics and chemistry woud be bored by its overblown content.
But it would look good on a reproduction Eames coffee table.

Dont get me wrong Elliot I do not consider my self to be a luddite and we are constantly looking for better ways to keep food fresh, seasonal and tasty but real food takes much more of a commitment than joining the processed food brigade.
I predict a wave of cooks who are now probably in late primary school who will rebel and look for fresh food of integrity that has had minimal interference with a fine gastronomic sensibility in a green not greenwashed envoirnment.
I really enjoyed our discussions.. Back to the weeding and trying to pick the trifecta.

Cheers

George