Note-by-Note Cooking

Note-by-Note Cooking: The Future of Food

TRANSLATED BY M. B. DeBEVOISE
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/this16486
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Note-by-Note Cooking
    Book Description:

    Note-by-Note Cookingis a landmark in the annals of gastronomy, liberating cooks from the constraints of traditional ingredients and methods through the use of pure molecular compounds. 1-Octen-3-ol, which has a scent of wild mushrooms; limonene, a colorless liquid hydrocarbon that has the smell of citrus; sotolon, whose fragrance at high concentrations resembles curry and at low concentrations, maple syrup or sugar; tyrosine, an odorless but flavorful amino acid present in cheese -- these and many other substances, some occurring in nature, some synthesized in the laboratory, make it possible to create novel tastes and flavors in the same way that elementary sound waves can be combined to create new sounds.

    Note-by-note cooking promises to add unadulterated nutritional value to dishes of all kinds, actually improving upon the health benefits of so-called natural foods. Cooking with molecular compounds will be far more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable than traditional techniques of cooking. This new way of thinking about food heralds a phase of culinary evolution on which the long-term survival of a growing human population depends. Hervé This clearly explains the properties of naturally occurring and synthesized compounds, dispels a host of misconceptions about the place of chemistry in cooking, and shows why note-by-note cooking is an obvious -- and inevitable -- extension of his earlier pioneering work in molecular gastronomy. An appendix contains a representative selection of recipes, vividly illustrated in color.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53823-7
    Subjects: History, Chemistry, Technology, Sociology, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. A NOTE ON THE TRANSLATION
    (pp. ix-x)
    M. B. DeBEVOISE
  4. TABLES, FIGURES, AND COLOR PLATES
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION WHY THE NEED FOR NOTE-BY-NOTE COOKING SHOULD BE OBVIOUS
    (pp. 1-36)

    NOTE-BY-NOTE COOKING?Trust me: I always use words with due regard for what they mean—but I don’t deny myself the luxury of metaphor. In the phrase “note-by-note cooking,” the noun that is modified iscooking. In French, the wordcuisinedenotes a room, the kitchen, but it refers above all to an activity, cooking, well described by the title of a book I wrote a few years ago that was published in English under the titleCooking: The Quint-essential Art.The original title is more revealing:La cuisine: C’est de l’amour, de l’art, de la technique.By this I...

  6. ONE SHAPE
    (pp. 37-53)

    HOW SHOULD WE GOabout creating a note-by-note dish? In creating a traditional dish, some chefs begin by making sketches; others go to the market; others simply sit down and think. Any of these methods, even the second one, might work in note-by-note cooking. But let’s try sitting down—in front of an empty plate.

    A plate? It may seem an oddly conventional choice considering that what we are trying to do is to imagine a truly new way of cooking. Foods are physical objects, and so they can be served in many different ways. They can, of course, be...

  7. TWO CONSISTENCY
    (pp. 54-113)

    IN THE FIRST CHAPTER,where we started from the empty plate that the cook seeks to fill, I barely touched upon the question of consistency, ignoring gases and considering only liquids and solids. But these are crude notions. Cooks know perfectly well how to make things that are much more interesting than ordinary liquids or common solids: emulsions, sauces of various kinds, pastries, and so on. Between solid and liquid an entire continent remains to be explored—an almost infinite number of variations waiting to be discovered by anyone who is willing to go to the trouble of producing them....

  8. THREE TASTE
    (pp. 114-149)

    NOTE-BY-NOTE COOKINGwill sound the death knell for the false theory of the four tastes. Once chefs and gourmets taste pure compounds, they will notice real differences that until now have been hidden from them by four simplistic and misleading terms:salty,sweet,acid,bitter. Words do sometimes lead us astray, it is true. A new vocabulary will have to be introduced.

    The difficulty facing anyone who wishes to have a better understanding of taste is that gustatory perception is influenced to a very substantial degree by color, consistency, smell, and so on. When we eat, our perception of tastes...

  9. COLOR PLATES
    (pp. None)
  10. FOUR ODOR
    (pp. 150-171)

    NO ONE WILL DISAGREEthat aromatic plants have an aroma, that wines have a bouquet, that flowers have a fragrance—and that meats have an odor. In reality, however, meats, like all foods, have two odors: an “orthonasal” odor that is perceived by smelling and a “retronasal” odor that appears when the odorant compounds released by chewing pass through the air inside the buccal cavity and then rise up into the nose through the retronasal passages. But why aren’t retronasal and orthonasal odors the same? After all, the odorant compounds are the same in each case. There are two other...

  11. FIVE COLOR
    (pp. 172-184)

    FOOD DYES ARE OFTENdisparaged today, but, as Cicero tells us, a man who knows only his own generation remains always a child. The history of cooking shows that coloring agents have been popular since the earliest times. In the Middle Ages, cooks used a variety of substances derived from spices and vegetables, even insects. Green was obligatory in the Christian West, where it symbolized the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Modern cooks continue to use the green pigment of spinach to color sauces, for example. Nothing could be simpler: grind up some spinach leaves in a blender, press out the...

  12. SIX ARTISTIC CHOICE + CULINARY NOMENCLATURE
    (pp. 185-201)

    BEFORE WE TAKE A CLOSER LOOKat the fears and uncertainties that the adoption of a radically new approach to cooking is bound to arouse, let me continue to try to make the strongest possible case on behalf of note-by-note cooking, which in any case is rapidly being brought into existence in many parts of the world. Shapes, consistencies, tastes, odors, trigeminal sensations, and colors can now be created independently of one another, or very nearly so. The main problem facing us at this point is that there are too many possibilities!

    The chef is seated before his piano. What...

  13. SEVEN NUTRITION, TOXICOLOGY, MARKET DYNAMICS, PUBLIC INTEREST
    (pp. 202-226)

    I SHOULD LIKE TO CONCLUDEby briefly taking up a series of topics that will need to be considered more carefully if note-by-note cooking is to win broad popular acceptance: the nutritional value of pure compounds; the level of toxicological risk entailed by their use; the selection of suitable compounds, and their commercial availability; and the political issues raised by note-by-note cooking in relation to agricultural production, food safety, energy use, and public education.

    Humanity is at a turning point in its alimentary history. In the industrialized countries, our generation is the first not to have known famine. At the...

  14. APPENDIX A FEW RECIPES
    (pp. 227-236)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 237-255)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 256-256)