Women have always been told that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Although modern women may bristle at the idea that, first, they need a man in their lives and, secondly, that they will have to be homebodies, especially cooks, to trap a partner into matrimony, the point of the aphorism is that people can be won over via the taste of the food they are served, whether by a woman or at a restaurant.
Yet, taste remains a matter of — well — taste since it can vary from one person to another. What is sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the gander. However, molecular gastronomy (MG) attempts to dive deeper into the soufflé, so to say, to find out what it is all about. Till its arrival on the culinary scene, there was no formal scientific discipline dedicated to the study of the processes involved in cooking. All that mattered was to bung the recipes together in a pot or pan and then put them on a stove or in a baking chamber.
Hence, the observation by Oxford University professor Nicholas Kurti that “it is a sad reflection on our civilisation that while we can and do measure the temperature in the atmosphere of Venus, we do not know what goes inside our soufflés”. MG intends to rectify this deficiency by investigating the chemical and physical processes of cooking, enabling adventurous chefs to enter the new world of avant-garde cuisine. The result is the production, among other innovations, of flavours so strong, such as raspberry foam, that only a few teaspoonfuls are enough. MG, therefore, is a “flavour” that is catching on eateries around the world, including one in Mumbai, the Masala Library, which is the first to apply MG to Indian dishes. While sophisticated food magazines are devoting pages to the subject, a website is attracting new devotees.