I’ve never been to the Fat duck. I’d like to. But there’s no way I could ever afford it. But a few things strike me about ‘molecular gastronomy’, the science of flavour.
It seems quite a macho cuisine. It definitely appeals to the boys being arguably less girly than wearing a pinny in the kitchen. You get to wear a lab technicians coat and muck about with test tubes and complicated bits of equipment: an immersion circulator, a vacuum sealing machine, a ‘super bag’, a digital thermostat costing £2,000. Cooking techniques such as ‘flash-freezing’ are more akin to something from Marvel comics than Mrs Beeton. The ingredients are also alien: methylcellulouse powder, liquid nitrogen. Can we buy these in Tesco’s? On the exotic (top) shelf perhaps?
Some of the dishes seem a bit ‘worked’. Do I really want a nice bit of Parmesan turned into a gelée? Other dishes should be reported to trading standards… calling something a ‘raviolo’ when there is no pasta around it!
I don’t like the meaness either. Just like that other trend, now irredeemably naff, ‘nouvelle cuisine’, it’s all tiny, plus you don’t get much sauce. If the sauce is good, I don’t want a smear, a dirty protest, I want a big puddle!
I’m sure, like in many things, LeCorbusier in architecture for instance, the originators are good, Heston Blumenthal, Ferran Adria etc, but it will spawn a host of lesser imitators.
Speaking of chemistry, my only litmus test is my tongue.
Molecular gastronomy is the opposite to what I do, armed with merely a ladle, a cast iron oven and an iphone.