November 26, 2008
The like problems behind molecular gastronomy and modern artmaking
Our own Mogan Meis and Stefany Anne Golberg in The Smart Set:
1811: a French confectioner named Nicolas Appert publishes The Art of Preserving Animal and Vegetable Substances for Many Years. He discovers that if you boil your mutton and eggs in sealed glass jars, you can eat them much later. Napoleon, in person, gives him a prize and canned food is born.
Early 1970s: American schoolchildren are introduced to thermostabilization, rehydration, and freeze-drying via space food. Tang becomes an American staple and likewise, the Tang moustache.
1974: The National Food Processors Association examines a 40-year-old can of corn found in the basement of a California home. Far from being just a rancid memory of food, the corn was, in fact, safe to eat, full of nutrients, and moreover, tasted just like freshly canned corn.
1986: The compact microwave is introduced into the family kitchen. Mothers around the nation proceed to make the driest roasts in world history with sides of flaccid broccoli.
Such are the trials and tribulations of food in the industrial age. They illustrate the obvious — industry and technology have had a massive impact on what we eat and how we eat it. The focus, however, has generally been convenience and cost rather than taste and gastronomic pleasure. Mass populations need mass-produced food as well as cheap and efficient means to package and transport them. The cuisine of classical fine dining, by contrast, tends to ignore all such developments. At most of your finer restaurants, canned foods and microwaves are not to be found, much less liquid nitrogen or a dehydrator. For 500 years, Western fine dining has been primarily dominated by a focus on fresh ingredients and authoritative (generally French) skills.
During the ’60s and ’70s, however, people started to play around a little.
Posted by S. Abbas Raza at 01:27 PM | Permalink