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The Science of Food

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Molecular gastronomy.  What is that exactly?

Executive chef at boomtown casino and hotel tells us. "Why do things happen and react different ways. And the desire to learn why things work the way they do within one another. Chemical reactions. Things of that nature."

Ok I'm game.  Lets try out some food science.

My goodness. Uh Ryan. This stuff makes your mouth water and your lips pucker. "Yeah it does a little bit. This is red wine vinegar." It's purpose? "You can use it as a preservative such as pickles and canning things. It extends the shelf life of a product." What kind of part does it play in molecular gastronomy? "The acid actually retards bacterial growth." I didn't know that. "It also adds a unique taste to the product as well." I'd rather not use this in an experiment today. Because of the pucker factor mainly. Lets try something a little softer. "Sounds good."

So we go with something a little more pa liable....yogurt.

Chef Ryan Gillespie begins mixing a concoction for yogurt balls.  "The natural properties with yogurt mixed with certain chemicals. We can also do some other things with it."

And this is where the science of food comes in.  

"We're going to do some reverse specification here in a minute. We're going to take some of the yogurt and because of the acidity in it and mixed with another chemical in it will actually cause it to turn into almost like an egg yolk."

Oh...And by the way...Reverse spherification......that's  the process of turning liquid into stable edible spheres with a gel membrane.  Sounds easy enough.  So in this first food experiment we are making yogurt egg-like. We accomplish this with no eggs. Our egg yoke like substitute will be made of yogurt of course, alginate, and sugar. So we mix the sugar and yogurt. We pull it into a syringe and then it goes for a dip in the alginate. 

What is this solution doing to that yogurt? "There's a chemical reaction going on where it's encapsulating the yogurt. And it's actually forming a skin on the outside of the yogurt."

Wah-lah!  The reverse spherification is complete after the yogurt ball is dipped into a water bath to clean off the alginate.

I'm gonna try the...What did you call it again? "Reverse spherification." Reverse shperification is what I'm trying now. This is yogurt, but it's yogurt you can sort of play around with. Mmm. That is much better. Especially with the sugar in it.

Once you understand what causes different reactions they can apply to anything.

And by anything he also means ice-cream. Homemade ice cream.  Just like grandpa used to make....except with liquid nitrogen at..."Three hundred twenty one degrees below zero" according to Chef Ryan.

It's so cold it'll burn you. That's how cold liquid nitrogen is.

Ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. Gonna give it a shot. Wow. That's really good. And it tastes like ice cream. Because it's ice cream. We just cooled it off super quick.

Chef gillespie also demonstrated cooking scallops in a bag using only smoke.  Everyone who came to this particular science on the rocks got to taste the yogurt balls, smoked scallops, and ice-cream made with liquid nitrogen.  

One of the participants at this particular Science on the Rocks even had this to say. 
"All of that's new to me. And it's really intriguing. And its a way to draw people in to the science of it. And get people interested in how our food is prepared."

Sci-port hosts these Science on the Rocks events every month. They have one coming up on the 24th of this month where even the family dog can participate. And if you are looking for something fun to do for Valentines...Well on the first Thursday in February.  

For more information on these events and much more....just call 318-424-3466 or just log on at Sciport.Org.



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