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Molecular Eats

Someone once remarked in my presence that the world would be so much better off if we just banned chemicals. Hmmm….

Plumbing the depths of such sentiment is probably pointless, but among the losses in a chemical-free world would be all the things we eat. Perhaps this is why there is burgeoning interest in the charmingly named field of molecular gastronomy, i.e., the chemistry of food and cooking. Googling the term yields 279,000 hits, ranging from the comical to the scholarly.

If you are inclined in this direction, check out the “molecular cooking sets” at cusine-innovation.com. You will be rewarded with dessert possibilities using agar and carrageenan; very scientific-seeming kitchen utensils like alimentary-grade silicone tubing and graduated pipettes;  and recipes for “special foams.”

If such delicacies convince you we really would be better off without chemicals, remember that, in addition to no food, there would also be nothing to drink. Unappealing indeed.

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Periodic Tabloid is an ongoing record of the activities of the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s staff and scholars, whose work tells the story of chemistry over the centuries up to modern times. Stay tuned for behind-the-scenes coverage of our events, exclusive supplemental materials to our publications, analysis of pressing contemporary scientific issues, and much more.