Harvard Lectures: The Science of Cooking and Molecular Gastronomy

Mar 03 2011 Published by under Food & Cooking

The Science and Cooking Public Lectures were a popular series of lectures presented through the Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences last fall. Now it's available online for everyone to watch*.

The introductory lecture features Harold McGee (author of On Food and Cooking), who talks about the history of using science in cooking up through current techniques in molecular gastronomy. That first session also includes a lecture and demonstration by Spanish chefs Ferran Adria - considered one of the "best chefs in the world" and head chef at elBulli - and José Andés, who was trained by Adria and now has several restaurants in the Washington DC area.

You can view the entire lecture series on YouTube or iTunes

Subsequent lectures include "Sous-vide Cooking: a State of Matter", "Brain Candy: How Desserts Slow the Passage of Time", and chemistry of olive oil, chocolate, meat glue and more.

It's very cool stuff. The only bummer is that YouTube doesn't let us sample the food prepared during the course.

Additional information on some of the topics and historical books mentioned during the first lecture:

• Harvard Professor L. Mahadevan's studied the "The Cheerios effect" (technical PDF). You can read a non-technical explanation at LiveScience.com.

• Harvard Professor Kevin Kit Parker helped invent a cotton candy-inspired machine for spinning nanofibers, with possible applications in creating artificial organs.

Modern Cookery for Private Families was originally published by Eliza Acton in 1845.

•  "Housekeeping in the Twentieth Century" by Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards was published in the March 1900 issue of the American Kitchen Magazine. It's the source of the quote "each family has a weakness for the flavor produced by its own kitchen bacteria". She also imagines a future where "we shall eat to live and not only live to eat", and have pantries stocked with factory-prepared foods.

The Physiology of Taste (La Physiologie du Goût) was published just before author Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's death in 1825

• For recipes using sodium alginate and calcium chloride (as in the lecture's demonstration) and other gelling agents, check out Martin Lersch's free e-book Textured: A hydrocolloid recipe collection. He also has a brief post about the chemistry.

There are additional videos and information links on the official Science and Cooking Public Lectures web page

* It looks like the lectures were made available online several months ago, but I just discovered them now.

(Via Martin Lersch's Khymos blog)

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