Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Modernist Beat Volume 3

I have been sitting on this one for a little while.  Mostly trying to cover science-y/food convergence type things.  If you have links to suggest for the next one, just pop a comment up in this bitch.  Without further adieu:

From the 'how do you get to be a test subject for this study' dept.
Scientists have improved on the perfect hangover cure: The Bloody Mary.

Where Math And Sausage Infinitely Converge.
I give you... the Mandelbratwurst.

In the 8th case of its kind, a man self cannibalizes his own finger. Is this a horrifying trend, or is it really just self foraging? I personally look forward to the negative Yelp review.

Obligatory Modernist Cuisine Book give away
Marcel's Quantum Kitchen is sponsoring a Modernist Cuisine Book giveaway over at grubstreet. All you have to do is suggest a theme for a future episode. I suspect that Marcel detractors have already suggested self cannibalism or some form of modernist mutilation.

Do white chocolate and epoisses pair well together?
Probably not, but go to Foodpairing.com to find out. They just got a stellar makeover and the site is looking slick.  Now all we need is for Khymos to set up another TGRWT.

Speaking of Khymos...
Martin has an excellent post on making the perfect egg yolk.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Espuma Matata (Culinary Foam Worries)

I have been working on a list of modern cooking technique debates I hate witnessing and the "Do Foams Suck?" debate is filled with jackassery from both sides.  I am a proponent of all culinary techniques regardless of trendiness.  They just have to be well executed and service the dish.  That being said, I think us pro-foamers do need to check ourselves when we attempt to engage the enemy.

Say you are minding your own business when some foam hating douche walks up to you and says:
I hate foams and everyone that likes 'em!
The initial response as programmed by the Internet will invariably be:
You hate all foams?  You know that x is a foam right?
Where x is:
  1. Bread
  2. Mousse
  3. Cappuccino
  4. Beer
  5. Your Mother
Hocking that loogie is a total red herring.   Obviously, when someone says they hate foams, they are being more specific than any solid or liquid with a gas trapped inside of it.   So, let's stop channeling that nerdiness from high school that got you into this whole modern technique thing to begin with.  It didn't win friends in high school and it won't today.  Also, least convincing argument ever.

One Foam Is A Cinnamon Foam (Lecithin),
The Other Is A Lemongrass and Clementine Zest Foam (Hand Soap).  
Informed persons should be able to dislike foams and not receive contempt.  There are a couple of reasons to hate foams:
  1. Aesthetic.  Since I am rummaging through the ole trope drawer, let's pull out the old 'you eat with your eyes first' bit.  It is a cliche, but it is also true.  And some people see foam as soap scum or spittle, or perhaps as a sign of microbial growth.  My woman is one of them.  I force-fed her a foam last night.  Does.  Not.  Want.   
  2. Texture.  While foams can vary in texture dramatically, many of them can have unappealing textures to people.  I hate Gummi thingies.  It doesn't matter what form of gummi thingie it is, I just can't like it.  If it rained blow jobs and money every time I ate a Gummi Bear, I'd still hate eating Gummi Bears.  Which would suck, cause my entire life would be reduced to eating Gummi Bears and sleeping.  
  3. Flavor muting.  Depending on the construction and the ingredient, foams can reduce the flavor of an otherwise tasty component.  While this is often the intended affect,  and can be a win for some, it can also make a foam tasteless.  
Combine esthetically and texturally unappealing with flavorless and I can see why some people wouldn't like foams.

Buuuuuuut... On The Other Hand

I think there are definitely a fair number of people who don't like foams for the reasons stated above.  However,  I also think there are people who express their foam-y hatred as a euphemism for saying they hate modern technique influenced cuisine and/or its associated trendiness.

I suspect Top Chef Season 2 is to blame for this.  Chefs and judges alike kept harping on Marcel's use of foam.  Millions of people's first foam experiences were colored by it.  I am sure that there were also a lot of bad foams put out there by chefs dabbling with them.  People also might conflate the trend with the component.

Ultimately, the foam has become The Scarlet Letter of modern cookery.

So when you say
I hate foam
know that I hear something as ridiculous as:
I hate sauce 
I hate protein
Foams can be nuanced in both texture and flavor (just like sauces and proteins).  Maybe you just haven't found a foam you have loved.  Culinary close-mindedness is a terrible crime, and my contempt for you is as endless and unrelenting as the entire controversy around foams.

Just kidding.  Maybe.

Let's Put A Bow On This Pig

IF YOU ARE A CHEF, continue to make or not make foams.

IF YOU ARE A DINER, continue to eat or not eat foams.

CONTEMPLATE THE VALIDITY of the other side, while you



I Ate One Of These In The 80s.
Two Special (and Fecal) Notes
  1. I have had these thoughts in my writing colon (that's where my writing ideas are stored) for quite some time.  I would like to thank eGullet for performing the high colonic that relieved me of this Reggie Bar of a post.
  2. Like a child that painted with his own excrement, I am incredibly pleased with the title of this post.  

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